Sun dismantle Broncos in season opener

The Okanagan Sun kicked off 2018 with a bang, defeating the Kamloops Broncos 56-6 at Hillside Stadium on Sunday. Both offences engaged in an early battle for field position, as the game remained scoreless midway through the first quarter. It was the Sun defence that opened up the scoring, as Broncos quarterback Reid Vankoughnett and his receiver got crossed up. His pass sailed right into the arms of all-star cornerback Tye Kitzman, who ran it all the way in for a pick-six. That gave Okanagan a 7-0 lead with 2:33 left in the first.

In the second quarter, the Sun offence settled in and began to march up the field. Veteran running back Kelton Kouri made it 14-0, on a 19-yard reception from quarterback Jakob Loucks. After a botched Broncos punt lead to a fumble right in front of the goal line, Loucks punched in his first rushing touchdown from one yard out, to extend the lead to 21-0. Minutes later, Jesse Amankwaa ran it into the endzone from 12 yards out, which quickly built up a 28-0 lead. Before the half came to an end, Kouri added his second touchdown of the day, this one coming on the ground, from 6 yards out. Leading 35-0, Sun kicker Isaac Wegner connected on a 42-yard field goal, which gave Okanagan a 38-0 lead at the half. With a lopsided score, the Sun took the opportunity to get some backups into the game over the course of the second half. A 29-yard field goal from Isaac Wegner pushed the lead to 41-0, before Kamloops got on the board.

With Sun quarterback Matthew Mahler under pressure, the ball was knocked loose as he was hit by lineman Damian Person. Fifth-year teammate Kurtis Mutschmann grabbed the ball, and rumbled in for a touchdown. After missing a two-point convert, the score was cut to 41-6. But on the ensuing kickoff, linebacker Conor Richard turned on the jets, and returned the kick more than 70 yards for another Sun score, giving his team a 48-6 lead.

Things settled down in the fourth quarter, until Wegner attempted a 41-yard field goal. His kick missed the uprights, but went out the back of the endzone, which extended the Sun lead to 49-6. The offence finished off the scoring a couple minutes later, when Mahler connected with rookie receiver Cole Stroud, for his first reception and touchdown catch in a Sun jersey. Wegner connected on his seventh convert of the afternoon, giving the Sun a 56-6 victory.

Up next, the Sun continue a four-game season-opening road trip on the Island, against the Westshore Rebels.

Kickoff is set for next Saturday (Aug. 11) at 4 pm.

You can watch the game live  by clicking here, along with a radio broadcast live on AM 1150, beginning at 3:30 pm.

Evan Cooke

Okanagan Sun Play by Play

Okanagan Sun Win Opening Game by 50

A Sun ‘Loops’-sided opener

The Okanagan Sun put their highly touted recruit class on display in their BC Football Conference opener Sunday in Kamloops.

But, it was three returning veterans who stole the show in a 56-6 romp of the Broncos.

While the newly retooled offence took a quarter to get untracked, veteran defensive back Tye Kitzman showed why he is one of the league’s best.

Kitzman, who picked off six passes in 2017, including one for a touchdown, picked up where he left off with a pick-six late in the opening quarter, to put the Sun up 7-0.

Kelton Kouri scored a pair of touchdowns, on through the air and one on the ground, during a dominant second quarter.

Linebacker Conor Richard returned a third quarter kickoff for another Sun major, and stripped the punter from the ball during a punt attempt, giving the Sun the ball on the Broncos one.

Taking its cue from the defence, the offence started rolling, putting up points on its next five possessions.

After a poor punt gave the Sun good field position at mid field, highly touted quarterback Jakob Loucks needed just four plays to find the end zone, hitting Kouri on a 19-yard strike on the opening play of the second quarter. The drive was capped by Loucks’ 26 yard scamper.

After Richard stripped the punter of the ball on the one, Loucks snuck over on the next play to put the Sun 21-0.

Newly-signed running back Jesse Amankwaa found pay dirt from 12 yards out, before Loucks engineered another four-play drive, capped off by Kouri’s second major, a six-yard run.

Isaac Wegner converted all five touchdowns and booted a 42-yard field goal to put the Sun up 38-0 at the half.

It could have been worse, but Loucks mishandled the snap on third -and-goal from the one on the final play of the half.

The first year pivot finished the half eight for 13 for 127 yards and the touchdown.

He gave way to second-year quarterback Matthew Mahler, who directed the team during the second half, as most of the starters gave way to the second team over the final 30 minutes.

Mahler engineered one scoring drive, hitting rookie receiver Cole Stround with a late fourth quarter strike.

The lone bright spot for the Broncos came midway through the third quarter when veteran Kurtis Mutschmann stripped Mahler of the football and rambled in for a touchdown. The two-point convert was not successful.

Richard made sure the momentum would not swing, taking the ensuing kickoff all the way to the house, putting the Sun up 48-6.

In other first week action, the Valley Huskers snapped a 31-game losing streak spanning three-plus seasons, upsetting the VI Raiders 33-31 in Chilliwack.

The Huskers scored 30 unanswered points, including 21 in the final quarter in a thrilling 33-31 upset of the reigning BCFC champion VI Raiders.

The Westshore Rebels opened the season Saturday with a 19-16 win over the Langley Rams.

The Sun get an early season test next weekend when they travel to Victoria to face the always tough Rebels.

Article Via Wayne Moore and Castanet News


CJFL Season Preview: Okanagan SUN

By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

The Okanagan Sun earned a home playoff date last season, but it didn’t help as they were upset by the eventual Cullen Cup champion VI Raiders.  That loss has fueled their fire entering this year.

The Sun have retooled with a number of players from U Sports particularly on the offensive and defensive lines.  If these players perform as expected they could be difficult to deal with this season.

Ryan Watters talks with head coach Ben Macauley who enters his third season and is about to kick-off with their main camp.


Sun Announce 2018 Signings

We were and continue to be aggressive this offseason in our recruiting efforts. We have a great mixture of guys with high potential for the future as well as guys who will compete at an elite level right away. Coaches Nathan Mollard and Johannes Van Leenen have done an outstanding job.”

            Head Coach – Ben Macauley













Photo by Troy Fleece.

Nicholas Dheilly takes on UBC running back Ben Cummings

By: Mike Sill – June 6th, 2018

The University of Regina Rams defence took a heavy hit this past Monday, as 2016 Canada West Rookie of the Year and 2017 Canada West All-Star Nicholas Dheilly officially de-committed from the program.

Dheilly — whose 10.5 career sacks rank fourth all-time in program history — says the decision came down to a variety of factors, including wanting to be on a “Vanier-caliber” team for his draft year in 2019.

The defensive end will suit up for the historically strong Okanagan Sun of the Canadian Junior Football League this season, as due to transfer rules, he needs to sit out a full year before moving on to a new U SPORTS school for his draft year.

Dheilly alongside Sun head coach Ben Macauley. Photo by the Okanagan Sun


“After next year, [the Rams] lose a lot of guys and we’re going into my draft year, so I wouldn’t mind being at a really good place and team going forward for my draft year,” he said.

“[Deciding to de-commit] took me a while. It wasn’t a quick decision. It took me a few months to really decide what I wanted to do.”

Rams head coach Steve Bryce was fully supportive of Dheilly’s decision, saying the move was best for his “health and wellbeing.”

“I think this move is probably the best for him, personally. And I think it’s a healthy decision for him to make,” Bryce said. “I think he’s probably in a better place for himself, and he can focus on the things he needs to do to make the next steps in his career that he wants to make.”

Dheilly, a product of local powerhouse Dr. Martin LeBoldus, was recruited by schools across Canada coming out of high school, including Guelph and Simon Fraser, before ultimately deciding on Regina for the 2016 season. While he hasn’t made his intentions clear about which program he’ll be suiting up for in 2019, there’s sure to be a significant amount of interest in the six-foot-four, 220 pounder.

In the meantime, he’ll be able to make an immediate impact with the Sun. Okanagan head coach Ben Macauley originally began talking with the defensive end in March, after Bryce made it known to him that Dheilly may not be returning to the team.

“Steve [Bryce] clearly wants what’s best for his players, and he made it clear that he thinks [Dheilly] deserves an opportunity to play somewhere, and if we were going to go after anyone, he’d be worth going after,” Macauley said.

“We run a defence that’s sort of conducive to allowing the ends some opportunity to be the guy, to make the plays and to come off the edge. We’ve got some great guys coming in to provide pressure up the middle, which will allow Nick to really get one-on-one with tackles, and [the opposition] is going to have to help on the edge. They’re going to have to game-plan around him.”


Article via CUSN

Make or break year for Sun

Call it what you like, boom or bust, make or break.

Either way, 2018 is an important season for the Okanagan Sun.

No more excuses says head coach Ben Macauley.

He says the team is going to do everything it can to win.

“We’re going to do it the right way, but we’re not going to hold anything back. We’ll say what we think and do what we feel will put us in the best position,” said Macauley.

He says the goal is to compete at the highest level.

“Our community, our city, our board, our supporters, our sponsors, expect us to take this next step.

“We’re investing a lot of time, money and energy into this season, and it’s not a pass or fail, but we do expect to have a high level of success. There’s not going to be a pass we’ve been given the last few years based on injuries or our newness to the program.”

A lot of that investment has come in recruiting players the team believes can take them to the next level.

Two of those, quarterback Jakob Loucks and defensive end Nicholas Dheilly, are among the top recruits in the country.

“Not to take anything away from the rest of our class, but these two guys are kind of our marquee guys and are established. They have not just played, but been quite successful at the top level of amateur sport in Canada.”

Loucks comes to the Sun after two seasons as a starter with the Mount Allison Mounties. He was U-Sports rookie of the year in 2016.

Dheilly, who comes to the Sun from the University of Regina Rams, was named the team’s defensive player of the year last season and was a Canada West all-star.

While those two head a strong recruiting class, Macauley says he believes the biggest improvement this season will come along the offensive line.

“We think we have the depth there now to compete well into October. Last year we were moving guys from defence to offensive and doing it with patchwork.

“Not to say those guys didn’t do a great job of adapting, but this year we will have some of the best offensive linemen in the country.”

Macauley says the line should be anchored by 6-foot-7, 325-pound Daniel Townsend from the University of Calgary.

“He’s a true university starter, and that makes a big difference.”

Original article via Castanet 


Warren Henderson/Capital News Former Mount Allison Mounties quarterback Jakob Loucks is the most highly-touted recruit for the Okanagan Sun.

Jakob Loucks, a two-year university starter at Mount Allison, was conspicuous at Sun spring camp




After walking off the field at the end of the 2017 season, quarterback Jakob Loucks was unsure whether he’d ever play football again.

Finding a balance between life, education and sports was presenting its share of challenges for the 20-year-old product of Cornwall, Ont.

That all changed this spring when the Okanagan Sun invited the highly-touted Loucks to pay a visit to Kelowna and see what the B.C. Football Conference club had to offer.

“I didn’t think I was going to play again until I took a visit out here and fell in love with the place, the team, the coaches, the scenery,” said Loucks. “So I was like, yeah, I think I’ll give this one more shot.”

All eyes were on Loucks over the weekend in Kelowna, the most auspicious of the 105 players to take to the field at the Sun’s 2018 spring camp.

The U Sports rookie of the year in 2016, the 5-foot-10, 195-pound pivot started the last two seasons for the Mount Allison University Mounties in Sackville, NB.

With a solid resumé and two years of university ball under his belt, the Sun, not surprisingly, have high expectations of Loucks.

“We’re really impressed with Jakob,” said Sun head coach Ben Macauley. “It’s a tough task, coming in with a lot of pressure on you. He’s one of the top recruits in Canada and he’ll be expected to perform that way…we have high expectations for him and so far he’s handling that very well.

“Overall, he’s been very impressive physically and mentally.”


As for those expectations and living up to the hype, Loucks plans to simply focus his efforts on playing the game.

“I kind of don’t let that stuff affect me, I just put my helmet on and go play football,” said Loucks, who passed for 2,859 yards and 16 touchdowns over two seasons at Mount Allison. “People can expect what they want, but I’m just going to get on the field and give everything I have.”

Other quarterbacks taking reps at Sun camp included Gabe Oliveras, the backup last season at UBC, and Matthew Mahler, who returns from last year’s club.

Nick Wenman, who attended his third spring camp with the Sun, took over as the club’s starter part way through last season. However, Wenman is seriously considering transferring to the university level this fall with Mount Allison.

Thanks to an aggressive and thorough off-season of recruiting by the Sun, Macauley said the coaching staff had an ample crop of intriguing prospects to watch over the course of the three-day camp.

Unlike past years, when the Sun has been hard-pressed to find enough talent to line up in the trenches, Macauley said the offensive line could well be the club’s strength in 2018.

Calgary’s Daniel Townsend and Brendan Barnes, both with university experience, along with Danil Balan, from Montreal, are among those expected to bolster the O-line, complimenting the talents of returnees such as Marshall Klein and Liam Hamlyn.

“At this time of the year, to have some strength in numbers along the offensive line is a huge feather in our cap,” said Macauley. “We’re going to work hard to maintain that.”

The Sun plans to invite 85 players back for the club’s main training camp beginning July 17.

Okanagan kicks off the 2018 B.C. Football Conference season Aug. 5 in Kamloops.

All-Star Linebacker Eli Haynes Honoured by CJFL

Photo courtesy of Greystoke Photography

Class Of 2017: Eli Haynes

An All-Star linebacker for the Okanagan Sun

By Ryan Watters (@ryan2tswatters)

Eli Haynes is a homegrown player for the Okanagan Sun who spent the past five seasons chasing down tackles at the Apple Bowl.

In his final CJFL season in 2017, he led the BC Conference with 38 tackles and 114 total defensive points.  Along with his tackle total, he also tallied four knockdowns, forced two fumbles and recovered a pair as well.  Over on Special Teams, he collected seven tackles and assisted on two others.  He was named a BC Conference Defensive All-Star.

He is part of the CJFL’s Class of 2017:  WATCH HIS HIGHLIGHT VIDEO HERE

Why play for the Sun in the first place? – “I watched the Sun play growing up and they were my home team. I was just very fortunate to be able to move on to play for such a great junior organization in my hometown.”

Why did you stay with the Sun for all five years? – “I already had the opportunity to pursue a degree at UBC Okanagan while continuing to play for the Sun. The team scholarship fund helped me out with tuition, so I didn’t need to pursue university football for school.”

Now that you’ve graduated from the CJFL, what’s the biggest lesson you take away? – “Never be late”

Each player goes through a lot during his CJFL career, how did you grow as a person? – “I think the most growth happened in my first year out of high school. Being an 18-year-old rookie practising against the vets every day was a challenge that made me better. Also, getting to meet so many different guys from all walks of life was really eye-opening for me having grown up in Kelowna my whole life.”

What’s your favourite memory of playing with the Sun? – “Winning the Cullen Cup in 2015”

Knowing what you know now, would you change anything about your five seasons in the CJFL? -“Nothing. I’m happy with where I’m at now, so I have no regrets.”

What will you miss most? – “Playing in front of the home crowd at the Apple Bowl.”

What is next for Eli Haynes? – “I’m going to supplement my degree from UBCO by playing more football and studying at McMaster University next year. There’s no real master plan.”

Okanagan Sun linebacker Eli Haynes is part of the CJFL Class of 2017.