Sun ready for season

After 18 straight days of beating up on friends and teammates, the Okanagan Sun finally get to feast on some fresh meat.

The Kamloops Broncos will serve as the opposition when the Sun kick off the new season Sunday afternoon in Kamloops.

Despite the extended training camp and practice schedule, head coach Ben Macauley doesn't expect the team to show any sign of fatigue heading into the season opener. He says the coaching staff hasn't been pushing the players too hard during practice.

With an exceptionally strong recruiting class under their belt, what is expected is one of the strongest teams the Sun have fielded in recent memory.

"There's no excuses now. We said we needed to get the bodies, and we got the bodies. Needed to get the talent and we got the talent. The last thing I guess is coaching, so I guess I better be doing that as well as I can," said Macauley.

The recruiting class includes several former university players, led by a pair of Mount Allison Mounties, quarterback Jakob Loucks and receiver Malcolm Miller.

"He's small (5'7"), but quick and incredibly fast," says Macauley of Miller.

Macauley expects players like Loucks and Miller to be key cogs in the Sun machine this season, not just for what they bring on the field.

He says the experience players bring from playing in big games, whether at the junior or university level will be one the the keys to the team's success this year.

"We'll be able to lean on our experienced guys and senior leadership.

"But also, our toughness, both physically and mentally. We've got a determined group. Physical attributes aside, there is a lot of mental toughness."

That leadership should also benefit the Sun in an area which has lacked the most the past few seasons — consistency, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

"That's probably something everyone struggles with. There are a number of factors in that and, one thing everybody struggles with is offensive line. You're only as good as your offensive line.

"We're now playing with guys who were highly recruited and keeping them here will be a task, so now we are in a situation where we have some newcomers and will focus on being consistent week over week and improving little things."

On the defensive side of the ball, Macauley has raved about lineman Jmin Pelley, who tips the scales at 6'6", 360 pounds.

"He's a real problem," said Macauley.

"We have difficulty blocking him everyday in practice, and I'm really happy with our offensive line. He'll make some waves."

Pelley will play alongside Nicholas Dheilly to provide what the Sun hope is a deadly one-two punch.

With the Apple Bowl closed for the month of August in order to repair the running track, the Sun will be forced to open with four straight games on the road.

They won't play their home opener until Saturday, Sept. 8, when they entertain the Langley Rams.

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