Canada West BC-based teams previews

U British Columbia Thunderbirds 2-6 (missed playoffs)
The UBC Thunderbirds football team are on the road to start their 2009 season as they open training camp in Kamloops. From August 14th to the 22nd, the T-Birds will call Thompson Rivers University’s Hillside Stadium their home.

More than 100 players are making the trek to compete for a spot on this year’s roster with a mix of returning starters and talented newcomers vying for starting roles.

The T-Birds enter the 2009 season after a tough 2-6 campaign last season. A talented T-Bird squad, they were second in the league with six conference all-stars, were the victims of bad timing as they lost a pair of games as time expired to dampen their 2008 playoff hopes.
The T-Birds will be without four of their conference all-stars this year, however, after losing two of them to the CFL and two to graduation.

Canada West all-time sack leader and CIS first-team All-Canadian Scott McCuaig was taken in the third round of the CFL Draft by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats while standout wide receiver Blaine Kruger was signed by the Calgary Stampeders.

In addition to those all-star departures, the T-Birds will also be without safety Doug Goldsby who was signed by the Montreal Alouettes to a three-year deal after an outstanding East-West Bowl.

Despite all the big name departures, the T-Birds bring back all-star wide receiver Spencer Betts and all-star halfback Tyler Codron who are both expected to play major roles again this season.

Another big name returning to the T-Birds is 2009 CFL draft pick Mike Morris. The fifth-year offensive lineman was taken in the third round by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers but returns to Vancouver to anchor UBC’s offensive line this season.

The 2009 T-Bird recruiting class includes a number of impact newcomers who will be counted on to bolster the UBC roster. Among the 44 recruits are players such as Tibi Banica, who was a dominating running back for the Terry Fox Ravens last season, and offensive lineman Kelly Kurisu, a transfer from the folded NCAA Western Washington program.

UBC opens the 2009 Canada West season when it hosts 2008 Hardy Cup finalist Simon Fraser on Saturday, August 29.

2008 regular season record: 5-3
2008 regular season standings: Tied for second
2008 playoff record: 1-1
2008 playoff finish: Lost Hardy Cup Final to Calgary
General Write-Up:
The Simon Fraser University Clan football team was the proverbial Cinderella squad during 2008, with SFU ending a 25-game losing streak on opening night of season against UBC, and then making the Canada West playoffs for the first time since 2003.

The team returns the majority of that squad, while adding components that will fill gaps and provide depth in much needed areas.

SFU is coming off their best season running the ball since moving to the CIS in 2002.

The Clan averaged 5.8 yards-per-carry, tops in the Canada West, and featured six different running backs throughout the campaign. Simon Fraser carries depth at that position, however much of the success of the running game will be predicated by how successful SFU is at replacing three starters from the 2008 O-Line. Mobile quarterback Bernd Dittrich (Vienna, Austria) returns for his third season with SFU, his second as the incumbent starter, however Dittrich will be challenged during training camp by Western Michigan transfer Caleb Clark (Calgary, AB).

On the defensive side of the ball, SFU returns their entire secondary, led by two 2009 CFL Draft Picks in Anthony DesLauriers (Surrey, B.C.) and Ray Wladichuk (Vernon, B.C.). At linebacker, Chris Folk (Kelowna, B.C.) and Mark Bailey (Surrey, B.C.) return at the MAC and WILL positions, while the graduation of Tom Pearce leaves a spot open for competition during training

The defensive line will be anchored by returning starters John Reeves (New
Westminster, B.C.) and Scott Puffer (Abbotsford, B.C.), while the nose tackle and rush end spots will be decided during training camp.

The Clan open their 2009 season against UBC on August 29 (2 pm), while their first home game takes place on September 11, against Manitoba (7 pm, Terry Fox Field).

Head Coach: David Johnson
– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2009): Three
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2009): Four
– Career regular season record with team: 5-11
– Career regular season record in CIS: 11-13
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 6-12
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 13-15


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