Feature Story Friday April 15, 2016
Huskers Make History
Team to play outside conference in September
By Ryan Watters, CJFL - Courtesy of Rod Hudson, Chilliwack Huskers FB Club/Voice photo
Duncan Finch, slot back (L to R), Hassan Smith, quarterback and Taylor Roth, defensive guard at the christening of the new Exhibition Park Astroturf field in September 2014. Below, Huskers sports writer Rod Hudson.
he Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) will make history in 2016 with two Inter-conference Games during the regular season.
This will be the first time in the CJFL's long history that two teams from the BC Football Conference will face a pair of teams from the Prairie Football Conference in a regular season game. On Saturday September 17th the Valley Huskers will host the Winnipeg Rifles at 1:00pm PST at Exhibition Stadium in Chilliwack BC. Then a rematch of the 2015 Canadian Bowl when the defending champion Saskatoon Hilltops face the Okanagan Sun in Kelowna at the historic Apple Bowl at 7:00pm PST.
Both games will count in the 2016 CJFL standings and are considered a regular season game.
“I think it shows there's a real benefit to be part of the CJFL,” says CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich. “The teams in BC and the teams in the Prairies, play each other in their regular seasons, but what if we included some inter-conference games? What's the level of competition and is there an opportunity to look at it during the regular season? We wanted to look at some really competitive matches, not just necessarily the first and second place teams but right through the entire depth of each conference. There is a lot of enthusiasm from the member teams. It’s a really interesting concept and a really interesting idea to bring forward because of the excitement and interest in can create. I’m looking forward to both games.”
The Sun has not hosted the Hilltops since the 2000 Canadian Bowl, while the Rifles and Huskers have never played each other.
Each game will have its unique story lines. Neither the Rifles nor the Huskers have played an opponent outside their own Conference in their team history. This will be an opportunity for both franchises to measure themselves against a team across the country as well as build some new excitement in each market.
In the case of the Hilltops and Sun, they have faced each other nine times since 1988, the Hilltops winning five of those matches. All eight of the previous games were part of a national playoff, whether it was for the Canadian Bowl or a national semi-final game. The most recent of course was last year’s Canadian Bowl in Saskatoon.
If these games are successful with fan support the CJFL will look at more Inter-conference Games next season.
Saturday September 17th is also an important weekend for the other eight teams in the CJFL. In the PFC the Calgary Colts will meet the Regina Thunder on neutral turf in Medicine Hat, Alberta while the Wildcats face the Huskies in the battle of Edmonton.
Meanwhile, in the BCFC the VI Raiders face the Westshore Rebels in the continuation of the Island rivalry and the Kamloops Broncos face the Langley Rams which has become a hard hitting match up over the last couple of years.
The CJFL will release all three Conference schedules for the 2016 season on Thursday April 21st.
Download the schedule here.
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