Richard an all-Canadian

For the second straight year, Okanagan Sun linebacker Conor Richard has been named a Canadian Junior Football League all-Canadian.

The CJFL announced the defensive all-Canadian squad Wednesday morning, ahead of the national championship game Saturday in Saskatoon between the four-time defending champion Hilltops and the BCFC champion Langley Rams.

Richard finished the season, including playoffs with 33 tackles and eight assisted tackles. He added six sacks, two fumble recoveries, including one for a touchdown, and blocked six kicks.

He also returned 15 kickoffs for 354 yards and a touchdown.

Over the span of three seasons with the Sun, Richard has 85 tackles, 10 sacks, three fumble recoveries, four interceptions and 10 blocked kicks.

The Hilltops and OFC champion Hamilton Hurricanes led the way with three selections each. The Rams had two.

The offensive all-Canadian team will be announced Thursday.

The major award winners including offensive and defensive players of the year, rookie of the year and coach of the year will be unveiled at Friday's Banquet of Champions.


Sun coach calls it quits

The head coach of the Okanagan Sun football team has resigned, after running the program for the last three seasons.

Ben Macauley's resignation comes shortly after the Sun lost to the Langley Rams at home in the BCFC final.

“While my time as head coach has come to an end I will forever be thankful for the opportunity that the Okanagan Sun organization has given me,” Macauley said in a statement. “I want to thank my incredible coaching staff for sticking by me loyally for these last three years.”

Macauley thanked the program for “taking a chance” on a relatively young coach. Macauley was 30 years old when he was hired in 2016.

“While we didn't achieve the ultimate goal of a championship, it will be the many small, and mostly unseen successes that I remember most,” he said. “I have no doubt that the core group of the team will go on to achieve greatness on and off the field in this great community and beyond.”

Macauley says he will be shifting his focus from “the Sun family to my family at home.”

The Sun will begin searching for a new coach immediately.

Sun implode in BCFC final

"We pulled down their pants, we put them over our knee and we gave them a spanking. They got what they deserved."

Those were the comments of Langley head coach Howie Zaron after his Rams embarrassed the Okanagan Sun 39-7 in the BC Football Conference championship game Sunday at the Apple Bowl.

The comments were in response to Sun coach Ben Macauley's statement that the Rams were not a playoff team after beating the Sun earlier in the season at the Apple Bowl.

At they time, they were not.

"We don't need extra motivation, but when somebody from another team insults you or disrespects you, and say you guys are basically nothing, you're not a playoff team...there's six teams in this league, we're not in the top four," added Zaron.

"That's pretty reckless. You need to be careful when you say something like that because down the street, you're going to run into us...and sure enough, here we are."

At the same time, the Rams backed up Zaron's assertion earlier in the season his defence is the best in the country.

They forced four turnovers, and took advantage of five bad snaps when the Sun were in punt formation which gave the Rams excellent field position.

Langley scored 26 points off those nine turnovers, including four first half field goals off the four bad first half snaps.

"I think some of the big game stuff got to some of the young guys. We were on our third-string long snapper," said Sun head coach Ben Macauley.

"You can prepare a guy all you want, and if he's stressed out in a big game and makes an error like that, there's not much you can do to change that."

Macauley said the loss stung a little more because it was in a championship game and, "we didn't put up much of a fight for most of it."

The Sun offence, led by its running game, was almost non-existent.

The running game amassed just 54 yards through the first three quarters, 30 of that on one Malcolm Miller run on the club's second possession of the game.

Matthew Mahler was under pressure all game long and, when he wasn't, he was either just missing his target, or the ball was dropped.

Mahler threw for just 46 yards over the first three quarters and 98 for the game, including three fourth quarter interceptions - all to defensive back Nathan Murray.

The Rams were happy to play the field position game, run the ball, and pick up points any way they could.

Jaden Sheilan booted six first half field goals and quarterback Duncan Little plunged forward for a one yard score as the Rams built what was an insurmountable 26-0 lead at the half.

They scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns before Mahler hit rookie Peyton Price with a 26 yard strike to avoid the shutout.

Running back Joseph Carter was a workhorse for the Rams. He carried the ball 23 times for 63 yards as the Rams were successful in controlling the ball, and running down the clock.

Little only threw the ball 20 times, but completed 12 of those for 227 yards. Four of those covered 161 yards, putting the Rams in position to put points on the board deep inside Sun territory.

The Rams will now host the Ontario Conference champion Hamilton Hurricanes in the national semi-final next Saturday.

The winner of that game will travel to Saskatoon for the Canadian Bowl Nov. 17. The Hilltops won the Prairie Conference title Sunday.


Sun, Rams battle of words

The Langley Rams are not a playoff team. The Rams have the best defence in Canadian Junior Football.

Those words, spoken by the head coaches of the Okanagan Sun and Langley Rams, could serve as bulletin board material in respective dressing rooms leading up to Sunday's BC Football Conference title game.

Following a home defeat to the Rams Sept. 8, Sun head coach Ben Macauley let his frustrations out on his team, and during his post-game interview.

"It's just frustrating because I don't think Langley is even a playoff team. I don't believe they're good enough to be on the same field as us most of the time," he said after the game.

Macauley didn't back off those comments after advancing to the championship game against the Rams.

"I'm not going to come out and apologize for what I said. In the heat of the moment you say things," said Macauley.

"I want to back up my team no matter what, and I think we can play a lot better football. My mistake was worrying about what the other team is doing. It's all about what we do, and that's what's going to be the key next week."

Ironically, that game began a streak of six straight wins for the Rams, propelling them into second place, while the Sun won five in a row to take the league's regular season title.

If Macauley's comment is motivation for the Rams, a comment by Langley coach Howie Zaron may do the same for the Sun.

Zaron stated a few weeks ago his defence was the best in the country. He also didn't walk back those remarks on the BCFC championship preview show.

"I think our team is better because we play better as a team," he said.

"We don't have 14 all-stars on defence, but as far as a team goes, I think we just play a better team game on defence."

In response, Macauley says he would expect to hear nothing different, and feels the same about his defensive squad.

"We certainly have some of the headlining players, but the truth is the last five or six weeks, we've had to go without a lot of them.

"We've had to really bond together and find different guys to step up and make plays. A lot of those guys are guys we've had since they were 18 years old who have stepped up in their second and third years and started to make plays for us."

The jabbing didn't stop there.

Despite finishing atop the league standings and having home field advantage, Macauley downplayed the favourites tag.

"We've continually had to come in every week feeling like we were the underdog," he said.

"They got the better of us the last time we played, and they've been on a roll ever since. The regular season means nothing now. We've got our work cut out for us."

Zaron chuckled in response.

"They finish in first place, they're at home and they have 95 per cent of the guys on the all-star team. We all know they're the favourites," he said.

"They're the best team in the province by far. We're just happy to be here. Hopefully, we can give the Sun a good game."

Kickoff Sunday is 1 p.m. at the Apple Bowl.

Sun off to BCFC final

It'll be the Okanagan Sun and Langley Rams for the BC Football Conference championship next Sunday.

The Rams earned their way to the title game with a 37-26 win over the VI Raiders, while the Sun got three touchdowns from Kelton Kouri in a 40-21 thumping of the Valley Huskers Sunday at the Apple Bowl.

Kouri was the linchpin of a ground attack. He carried the ball 11 times for 197 yards, as the Sun shredded the Huskers defence for 362 yards on the ground.

He showed off his speed an vision on the fourth play of the game. After the Sun were forced to punt on their opening drive, the Huskers were called for too many men of the field, giving the Sun a first down at their 43.

On the next play, Kouri found a seam over right tackle, broke through a tackle, bounced to the outside, and raced down the sidelines for 67 yards.

Midway through the fourth, after the Huskers had cut the deficit to five, Kouri capped a five-play, 85 yard drive with a 55 yard scamper in which he broke through numerous tackles, and zig zagged his way around other would-be tacklers into the end zone.

He capped off his day with a seven yard run in the dying moments to put an exclamation mark on a career day.

"He surprises me. I kind of threw him under the bus a few weeks ago...I didn't know how fast he was," said head coach Ben Macauley.

"He keeps showing up and finishes down the field. Just when you think he's going to get tackled, he has a little extra left in the tank."

Kouri, and his running mates Malcolm Miller and Jesse Amenkwaa all had a lot in the tank as Macauley and the staff took advantage of three healthy running backs for the first time since early in the season and rotated them series by series to keep them fresh.

"It's really important this time of year to be able to plug fresh legs in especially if you run the ball as much as we do, which is quite a bit.

"We have three dynamic guys and we have to figure out ways to get their hands on the ball. Malcolm did great at times, Jesse is a real tough runner and powerhouse and Kelton does just about everything."

Miller carried the ball 12 times for 116 yards while Amenkwaa had five carries for 13 yards, most of those later in the game.

The Sun built a 15-0 lead after one quarter after quarterback Matthew Mahler hit Kian Ishani on a 53-yard strike at the end of the quarter.

The Huskers battled back in the second quarter. Quarterback Julian Wytinck snuck in from a yard out, capping an eight play drive aided by three Sun penalties. The first negated an interception, then two unnecessary roughness fouls put the ball on the one.

With time ticking down, the Huskers dug deep into their bag of tricks. Wytinck threw a backwards lateral to receiver Anthony Dyck, who connected with a wide open Jacob Penner on a 54-uard scoring strike to pull the Huskers to within one at the break.

The defence helped build the lead back to 12. The Huskers conceded a pair of safeties when the defence pinned them deep in their own end, then defensive back Trey Adams stepped min front of a receiver on second a long, and scampered 10 yards for a touchdown, putting the Sun up 26-14.

The Huskers got close again, but a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns from Kouri and a two-yard run from Amenkwaa put it away.

Mahler completed 13 of 26 passes for 199 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions as the Sun amassed 561 yards in total offence.

The Huskers were unable to get anything going on the ground, gaining just 31 yards against the Sun defence. Wytinck was forced to go through the air for any success.

He completed 18 of 39 for 268 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions.

The Sun and Rams will decide the BCFC title next Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at the Apple Bowl.

It will be the third meeting between the two teams. Each team was victorious on the road.

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