Looking at the 6 football teams in Canada West ahead of Friday’s season kickoff. Key returning players as well as contributors who moved on from their collegiate programs and reflecting on how their seasons went last year. The season kicks off Friday September 1.
Canada West Football games can be streamed at canadawest.tv where the season pass is $39.99 for the regular season pass for all teams or $8.99 per game.
Jump to Team Previews:
Alberta Golden Bears @ Calgary Dinos 5:30 PM MDT
Date/Location: Friday, September 1/ McMahon Stadium, Calgary, AB
Kickoff Time: 5:30 MDT (7:30 PM ET, 4:30 PM PT)
Ticket Price: Regular $16, Senior $11, Youth (7-17) $9, Student $9, Family (2 adults and up to 4 youths) $45
Calgary Season Tickets: Regular $50, Senior $40, Youth $30
#3 Saskatchewan Huskies @ #10 Manitoba Bison 7 PM C
Date/Location: Friday, September 1/ IG Field, Winnipeg, MB
Kickoff Time: 7 PM C (8 PM ET, 5 PM ET)
Ticket Price: Regular $19.50, Senior and youth (13-17) $13.50, 12 & Under free
Manitoba Season Tickets: Regular $58, Senior and youth (13-17) $48, 12 & Under free
#9 UBC Thunderbirds @ Regina Rams 7 PM C
Date/Location: Friday, September 1/ Mosaic Stadium, Regina, SK
Kickoff Time: 7 PM C (8 PM ET, 5 PM ET)
Ticket Price: Regular $20, Youth $10, 0-5 Free, Rams Student Free
Regina Season Tickets: Regular $76.31, Youth (6-17) $34.90, 5 & Under free, Rams Student Free
2022 Canada West All-Stars
#3 Saskatchewan Huskies
Finished the 2022 regular season on top with a 7-1 record outsourcing their opponents 241-119. Saskatchewan beat Manitoba 37-9 in the Canada West Semi-finals before beating UBC 23-8 for the Hardy Trophy. Saskatchewan proceeded to beat St. Francis Xavier who won the Atlantic Conference by a score of 36-19. Saskatchewan lost a close game to Laval in the Vanier Cup 30-24.
Saskatchewan was tied for first in the CW coaches preseason poll with UBC both getting 23 total votes and 3 first-place votes. Saskatchewan will be without Mason Nyhus who graduated after blowing up the stats sheet with 3,829 passing yards last season after which he was named Canada West Player of the Year. Another significant loss will be Dayton Black who was selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 6th round of the 2023 CFL draft and is now pass-blocking for Hamilton in the CFL and was All-Conference last season. The Huskies still appear strong coming off of a 48-6 win over Calgary in the preseason.
Photo Courtesy: University of Saskatchewan
Anton Amundrud will take over as the starting quarterback after 3 seasons in the Huskies’ program. Amundrud killed the stats sheet completing 13 of his 17 passes for 305 yards and 2 touchdowns in the preseason win over Calgary. Last season Amundrud attempted 11 passes completing 5 for 26 yards.
Saskatchewan’s backups also were efficient in the preseason as Griffin Sander completed 9 of his 12 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Mustapha Yekini completed 5 of 7 for 76 yards and rushed once for 17 yards.
The Huskies have some talent on the offensive line such as Jack Warrack who was named the conference’s rookie of the year.
Saskatchewan also has their top 2 rushers returning this season. Frank Ryker had 164 carries for 903 yards (5.5 average), 4 touchdowns, and 43 receptions for 352 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ryker was a Canada West All-Star last season. Ted Kubongo had 51 carries for 422 yards (8.3 average), 2 touchdowns, and 22 receptions for 181 yards and 2 touchdowns.
3 receivers had over 75 yards in the preseason victory. Branson Pipko had 3 receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Wiebe had 2 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown, and Caleb Morin had 5 catches for 75 yards.
Saskatchewan also has their top 3 receivers returning from last season who all had over 700 yards. Daniel Perry had 57 catches for 797 yards and 3 touchdowns and is returning despite being drafted by the Ottawa RedBlacks in the 5th round of the CFL draft. Perry was one of the 4 receivers named as a Canada West All-Star last season.
Rhett Vavra had 46 catches for 782 yards and 7 touchdowns. Caleb Morin had 48 catches for 736 yards and a touchdown. Morin was selected by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 2023 CFL draft in the 8th round.
Photo Courtesy: University of Saskatchewan
The Huskies look poised to run it back to the Vanier. Their top 13 players in tackles last season are returning. Defensive back Charlie Ringland is returning despite being drafted in the 5th round of the 2023 CFL draft by the BC Lions. Ringland had 27.5 tackles last season (24 solo), a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, 3 interceptions, and led the team in passes defended with 5. Ringland was a Canada West All-Star at halfback last season.
Defensive Back John Stoll had 3 passes defended, 4 interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 6 tackles for a loss, and 30.5 tackles (24 solo). Stoll led the team in interceptions, tackles for a loss, and was tied for team lead in sacks in his second season with the Huskies. Stoll was a Canada West All-Star last year at SAM linebacker.
Nick Wiebe at linebacker is 15th in the CFL Scouting Bureau’s 2024 Draft Prospect Rankings. Last season he had 60 tackles (45 solo), 2.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.
Katley Joseph was a Canada West All-Star at cornerback last season contributing 5 passes defended, 2 interceptions, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, and 35.5 total tackles (34 solo).
Out of the Huskies’ defensive leaders, the players highlighted in red are the ones not returning so one can assume that they should be even better than last year in which they allowed the fewest points in the conference and the 5th fewest in USports.
The Huskies also had 2 special teams players who were named Canada West All-Stars last season who are both Returning. David Solie made 25 of his 30 field goal attempts with the longest being 44 yards last season. Additionally, he had 80 punts averaging 38.8 yards per punt.
Ted Kubongo was a Canada West All-Star as a returner. He returned 20 kickoffs averaging 24.8 yards per return and had a 102 kickoff return touchdown. He also returned 8 punts averaging 6.3 yards per return.
#9 UBC Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds were 4-4 last season scoring 182 points and allowing 186. UBC pulled off a minor upset in the playoffs beating the #2 seed Regina in the semi-finals by a score of 28 to 14. The Thunderbirds lost to Saskatchewan in the Canada West Finals by a score of 23-8.
UBC was tied for first in the CW coach’s preseason poll with 23 votes and 3 first-place votes.
The Thunderbirds have both of their quarterbacks who threw passes last year returning. Garrett Rooker completed 106 of his 171 passes (62%) last season with 6 touchdowns and an interception and rushed 25 times for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns last season. In 2021 Rooker completed 154 of his 225 passes (68%) with 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and rushed 32 times for 144 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Derek Engel is also returning who completed 51 of 77 passes last season (66.2% for 549 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception last season and rushed 27 times for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Thunderbirds have not committed to which one is getting the start yet. One sure thing is that they will have protection on the line from 2 offensive linemen who are currently in the top 10 CFL 2024 Draft Prospect rankings. Theo Benedet is ranked 3rd and Giovanni Manu is ranked 8th in the rankings. Benedet was a Canada West All-Star last year at tackle and Manu was an All-Star at guard.
Photo Courtesy: University of British columbia
The T-Birds have their top 3 runningbacks returning from last season.
Isaiah Knight is returning after leading the Thunderbirds in rushing last season with 766 yards on 110 rushes (6.9 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns. Knight also had 4 receptions for 88 yards. Knight has 1,584 rushing yards on 262 carries averaging 6 yards a carry in 2 seasons with the Thunderbirds including playoffs. Knight was a Canada West All-Star last season.
Dane Kapler is also returning who had 59 rushes for 381 yards (6.5 average) and 9 catches for 85 yards.
Lucas Mastrodomenico rushed 25 times last season for 126 yards (5 average) and 2 touchdowns.
The T-Birds have 3 of their top 5 receivers returning from last season.
Jason Soriano had 422 receiving yards on 26 catches and 2 touchdowns leading the team. Shemar McBean was close behind him with 414 yards on 31 catches and 2 touchdowns.
The T-Birds will be without Liliam Wishart who had 300 yards and Nick Pollitt who had 248 receiving yards.
Edgerrin Williams was 5th last season for UBC with 238 yards on 16 catches and a touchdown.
Ryan Baker is returning at linebacker after leading the team by a lot in tackles last season. He had 46 solo tackles, 27 assisted tackles, 2 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 2 passes defended over the 8-game regular season last year. Baker was all-conference last season.
There will be some fresh faces on defense needing to step up in a bigger role this season with some notable players moving on. Lake Korte-Moore is making an impact on the Roughriders as a 1st round draft pick on the defensive line in the CFL after leading the T-Birds in sacks and tackles for a loss last year. Korte-Moore had 5 sacks and 6 tackles for a loss last season. Korte-Moore was all-conference last season at defensive end.
Luke Burton-Krahn is on the Edmonton Elks after being drafted in the 5th round and was a defensive back for the T-Birds last season.
The T-Birds are also without Keijaun Johnson, Daniel Kwamou, and Zach Herzog who were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in tackles on the team respectively last season.
Ben Sangmauah is back and was 6th in tackles with 13 solo and 5 assists and also had an interception and 2 passes defended at defensive back.
Kyle Samson is returning at defensive line and was second in sacks for UBC with 3 and also had 7 solo tackles and 4 assisted, 4 tackles for a loss, and an interception. Samson was all-conference as a interior defensive lineman.
#10 Manitoba Bisons
Last season the Bison finished 4-4 last year scoring 232 points and allowing 217. Manitoba took a bit of a thumping from Saskatchewan in the Semi-finals losing by a score of 37-9. The team will look a little different this season no longer having Des Catellier at quarterback.
Manitoba was third in votes with 14 in the preseason coaches poll.
The Bison are without a couple 2022 Canada West All-Star defensive backs this season as Nick Conway (HB) and Marcel Arruda-Welsh (CB) are not on the roster.
#14 Jackson Tachinski is the starting quarterback. He’s a dual athlete who joined Manitoba in 2019 for football and basketball. He completed 74 of his 132 passes in 2021 (56%) for 804 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions and rushed 49 times for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns. Last season he completed 9 of his 17 passes with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. He measures at 6’4 and 215 pounds. Tachinski completed 8 of his 13 passes in for 117 yards in the preseason win over Regina and rushed 10 times for 66 yards.
Justin Sharp completed 5 of his 6 passes for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns in the preseason win. Jordan Haslip completed 2 of his 5 passes for 24 yards and rushed 4 times for 10 yards.
#22 Breydon Stubbs: Did not play in the preseason. Stubbs was the leading rusher in 2022 rushing 73 times for 519 yards (7 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns. He also caught 11 passes for 190 yards and 2 touchdowns last season.
#8 Noah Anderson: Anderson was 2nd in rushing yards last season rushing 54 times for 225 yards (4.2 average). He rushed 5 times for 28 yards in the preseason.
#15 Vaughan Lloyd: Lloyd rushed 4 times for 25 yards (6.3 average) in the preseason and had 2 receptions for 59 yards. Lloyd rushed 26 times last season for 163 yards (6.3 average) and a touchdown.
#34 Finley Duncan: was listed as the third-stringer in the preseason and rushed 13 times for 103 yards in the preseason win (7.9 average). Duncan is a first-year player.
Photo Courtesy: University of Manitoba
#1 AK Gassama: Led the Bisons in receiving yards last season catching 37 passes for 761 yards and 6 touchdowns. Gassama was one of the 4 receivers named as a Canada West All-Star last year.
#19 Brendt Adams: Was 2nd in receiving yards for Manitoba last season catching 31 passes for 430 yards and 3 touchdowns.
#87 Michael O’Shea Jr.: Son of the Blue Bombers coach. O’Shea Jr. is in his first season with the Bison after a career in the CJFL. He played 12 games and caught 40 passes for 844 yards and 14 touchdowns. He was a member of the Blue Bombers during training camp but was released during one of the first wave of cuts.
#81 Zachary Wynne: Was listed as a starter in the preseason game and caught 1 pass for 44 yards. Caught 2 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown last season.
#11 Le Jour: Was listed as a starter in the preseason game during which they caught 1 pass for 11 yards.
#10 Nathan Udoh: Caught 2 passes for 40 yards in the preseason win.
#99 DT Collin Kornelson: Tied for the team lead last season in sacks with 2.5. Also had 21 tackles, 19 assists, and 3 tackles for a loss.
#90 DL Tristan Francis: Had 2.5 sacks, 20 solo tackles, 8 assists, and 8 tackles for a loss last season.
#98 DE Jack Shaffer: Was listed as a starter in the preseason game and registered 2 sacks. Last season he had 2 solo tackles and 1 assist.
#42 DL Jordan Friesen: Had 22 solo tackles, 18 assists, 1.5 tackles for a loss, a sack, an interception, and a forced fumble last season.
#7 Isaac Dokken: Dokken led the team in tackles last season. He had 44 solo tackles, 23 assists, 8.5 tackles for a loss, 2 pass breakups, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
#47 Kundanji Sinkala: Started the preseason game at middle linebacker and registered 4 solo tackles and 4 assists. Last season had 3 solo tackles and an assist.
#26 Austin Balan: Last season had 29 tackles solo and 6 assists as well as 3 passes defended and an interception.
The Rams finished 2nd in the regular season with a record of 5-3 in the regular season scoring 195 points and allowing 159 points.
Regina was 4th in the coaches poll receiving 13 votes, 1 less than third place Manitoba and 1 more than Alberta.
#14 Noah Pelletier is expected to again be the starter for his 2nd season as a starter. Last season he completed 154 passes of his 282 attempts (54.6%) with 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions over 9 games. He also rushed 20 times for 116 yards. In the preseason loss, he completed 7 of his 16 passes for 94 yards.
Owen Sieben completed 6 of his 6 passes for 89 yards in the preseason. Bryden O’Flaherety completed 2 of his 4 passes for 31 yards in the preseason loss.
#6 Olivier Savard: Was the team leader in rushing yards last season rushing 75 times for 301 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Rushed 3 times for 27 yards in the preseason.
#38 Christian Katende Rushed the 2nd most for the Rams last season rushing 48 times for 214 yards (4.3 average) and a touchdown. Rushed 2 times for 5 yards in the preseason.
#35 Marshall Erichsen: Rushed 14 times last season for 76 yards (5.3 average). Had 2 rushes for 5 yards in the preseason loss to Manitoba.
#21 Jevon Garwood: Rushed 3 times for 13 yards and had 1 reception for 57 yards in the preseason.
#9 Desean Mimbs: Led the Rams in receiving yards last year catching 37 passes for 457 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mimbs had 2 catches for 14 yards in the preseason.
#10 Bennett Stusek: Caught 31 passes for 455 yards last season and 4 touchdowns. Caught 3 passes for 36 yards in the preseason loss.
#80 Emmett Steadman: Caught 20 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown last season. Caught 2 passes for 44 yards in the preseason loss to Manitoba.
Photo Courtesy: University of Regina
The Rams’ 2022 leader in tackles, Ryder Varga, is now a BC Lion and was also third in sacks on the team. Varga was all-conference last year. The Rams also say goodbye to another all-conference player, Anthony Bennett who joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers after being a 1st round draft pick. Bennett had 9 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss leading the team in both categories. Garth Knittig was 2nd in sacks and is now a graduate assistant. Tanner Schmekel is another player who will not be back after logging 22 total tackles last season, 6.5 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks. Schmekel was all-conference last year as an interior defensive lineman. Jaxon Ford is another player not returning after being all-conference at safety last season.
Josh White is returning at linebacker for his final season. White had 27 solo tackles, 25 assists, 6.5 tackles for a loss, and 2 sacks.
Jackson Sombach is returning after being an all-conference defensive back at halfback. Sombach had 3 passes defended, 0.5 tackles for a loss, and 42 tackles (27 solo) last season.
There will be lots of opportunities for young players such as Kaeden Brennan who is in his 2nd year at linebacker and had 11 total tackles last year, 2 tackles for a loss and a sack. Michael Clow is entering his 3rd year and had 7 tackles, 2 for a loss, and a sack last year on the defensive line.
Alberta Golden Bears
Albera finished just outside the playoffs in 5th place last season with a record of 3-5. They scored 175 points and allowed 201.
Alberta received 12 votes in the coach’s preseason poll coming in 5th.
The Golden Bears have Eli Hetlinger returning who was their quarterback for most of the season completing 85 of his 154 passes (61.7%) for 1,396 yards and 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in his first year with Alberta.
They also have Luke Hornung returning who completed 23 of his 47 passes (48.9%) for 431 yards and 2 touchdowns with 5 interceptions.
On the line, Daniel Shin is returning after being named a Canada West All-Star at center.
Alberta has their top 3 runningbacks returning from last season. Matthew Peterson had 57 carries for 296 yards (5 average) over 5 games played in what was his third season with Alberta last year. Peterson also caught 9 passes for 95 yards.
Ope Oshinubi rushed 28 times for 140 yards (4.7 average) and a touchdown. Oshinubi also caught 7 passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Photo Courtesy: University of Alberta
Jonathan Rosery rushed 36 times for 176 yards (4.4 average) and also had the 2nd most receiving yards as he caught 29 passes for 526 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Kolby Hurford is back after leading the team in receiving yards catching 23 passes for 560 yards and 7 touchdowns. Carter Kettyle is also back and was second among receivers with 17 catches for 268 yards in 6 games and is entering his 2nd year. Both Rosery and Hurford were Canada Canada West All-Stars last season.
Orin Schellenberg is also entering his 2nd year and was third among receivers last year in yards with 204 and 2 touchdowns on 8 catches.
Chevy Thomas was 4th among receivers and is also entering his 2nd year after catching 17 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. Jaxon Hume who had 182 yards and Dakota McKay who had 171 yards are also returning.
Jassen Brown was 2nd in solo tackles for the team at linebacker last year and is now the linebackers coach. They no longer have Jake Taylor or Michael Peloso who were 3rd and 4th in tackles for the team.
Jonathan Giustini is back at defensive back for the Golden Bears after leading the team in solo tackles with 44. He also had an interception and 6 passes defended.
Josh Lenz is back after leading the team in sacks last year with 3 and also had 18 tackles and 2 tackles for a loss.
Romeo Nash was 2nd in passes defended with 4 and also had 17 solo tackles and an interception at defensive back.
Charlie De Land had 2 interceptions at defensive back last season as well as 2 passes defended and 14 solo tackles.
The Dinos will look for a bounceback year after a 1-7 finish last season in which they scored the fewest points at 117 and allowed the most at 260.
Calgary was 6th in the coaches’ preseason poll with 5 votes. The Dinos have a very young offense with a lot of potential.
Both Daniel Sananes and Matteo Spoletini who were the 2 quarterbacks who played last year are not with the Dinos this year.
Dom Britton was the starter in the preseason game in which he completed 9 of his 19 passes for 117 yards with 1 interception. He also rushed 4 times for 36 yards in the loss to Saskatchewan.
Xavier Vallinco completed 1 of his 3 passes for 5 yards in the preseason.
Photo Courtesy: University of Calgary
Matthieu Clarke is returning after a tremendous first year. He had 76 rushes for 401 yards (5 yards per carry) and 6 catches for 61 yards. He was the only runningback with over 100 yards and is entering his second season with the Dinos.
Nick Sua rushed 14 times in the preseason loss to Saskatchewan for 77 yards (5.2 average). Tieso Piscionie rushed 8 times for 36 yards (4.5 average) in the preseason loss.
Photo Courtesy: University of Calgary
Gob Deng will look to build on his bright collegiate career after leading the team with 36 catches for 406 receiving yards in his first full season.
Mikel-Ange Desjardins was 2nd in receiving with 27 catches for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first season with the Dinos.
Ben Britton was third on the team in his first year he caught 18 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown. He is the younger brother of Dom Britton who is one of the quarterbacks on the roster. Ben caught 2 passes in the preseason loss for 25 yards.
Matt Sibley was 4th in receiving yards with 197 on 12 catches and 2 touchdowns and is also entering his 2nd season. Zach Smith was 5th in receiving yards with 161 on 14 catches and 2 touchdowns in his second season.
Dante Carbone was 6th on the team with 12 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown and is entering his 4th season.
First-year player Matteao Civitare had 3 catches for 55 yards leading the team in the preseason loss to Saskatchewan.
The Dinos no longer have Subomi Oyesoro or Nate Beauchemin this year who were first and 2nd in solo tackles last season.
Osasare Odemwingie was 3rd in solo tackles last season at linebacker with 26 and also had 2 tackles for a loss, a sack, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 tackles for a loss in his first year.
Owen Porcu and Liam Reid are also back at linebacker and were 4th and 5th in solo tackles respectively.
Jacob Biggs led the team in passes defended last season with 5 and also had 22 solo tackles and 12 assists playing defensive back.
Jordan Chizda had 2 interceptions one of which he returned for a touchdown in his first season last year as well as 3 passes defended, 10 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, and a tackle for a loss.
The Dinos appear to have a lot of young talent up and coming.
Big Announcement: CFL Unveils Free Live Streaming Platforms
Get Alerts & Stay ConnectedCFL iPhone App
CFL Android App