Written by: Wayne Moore
Nicholas Dheilly came to the Okanagan Sun with tons of hype and expectations.
Dheilly, a defensive lineman, was Canada West rookie of the year in 2016 as a member of the Regina Rams. In two seasons there, before coming to the Okanagan, he was fourth all-time in team career sacks with 10 1/2.
Those skills were on display last Saturday, as he wreaked havoc in the Westshore Rebels backfield, amassing four quarterback sacks, two tackles and one assisted stop. The four sacks is one shy of the team and BCFC single game record.
His performance earned him both BCFC and CJFL defensive player of the week honours.
“I do feel a little pressure to perform because you come from such a high place, and you are expected to prove what you can do,” Dheilly said prior to practice earlier this week.
“As a whole, this defence is amazing. Our front seven is very good, and it’s not just one player that runs it, it’s the entire team. Me getting four sacks every game doesn’t matter, we still need to get the win at the end of the day.”
Dheilly says there has been a big adjustment coming down from Canadian college to junior ball.
He says it’s a different kind of football at the junior level, especially the speed of the game which he says is much faster at the college level.
As for personal success or sack records, Dheilly says that’s not what’s important.
“Personally, it’s not about working on myself, it’s working together as a team and as a defence and getting better as a unit.
“Coming together is really important.”
Sun head coach Ben Macauley says he’s been impressed with what Dheilly has brought to the team, particularly his leadership both on, and off the field.
As for what he’s done on the field, Macauley says Dheilly has more to give.
“There’s definitely more, because we’ve only scratched the surface of what he’s capable of,” said Macauley.
“The pressure on him to perform is something he has to get used to. Every time he steps on the field, whether it’s now or next year, he’s going to have pressure on him.”
Dheilly and the Sun return to the field Saturday when they face the vastly improved Valley Huskers.
It’s the third of four straight road games to open the season for the Sun.
They don’t play their home opener until Sept. 8, when the Langley Rams come to town.