Boseko Lokombo’s Return to BC

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Photo: Ric Ernst / PNG

For many football players, having the chance to play professionally is a dream come true. However, having the opportunity to play for your hometown team is something that many players don’t get the chance to experience.

For W.J. Mouat graduate Boseko Lokombo, that dream has become a reality.

Boseko, who played at the University of Oregon, a Division I NCAA school, was drafted in 2013 by the BC Lions in the 3rd round at 21st overall. Although he was drafted by the Lions, he wanted to wait another year to take a shot at the NFL and decided to finish up his degree.

One year after being drafted by the Lions, he entered the NFL combine and posted good numbers. However, he faced a major setback – he suffered a labral tear in his shoulder which required surgery and rehabilitation throughout the summer. Soon, his dream of playing in the NFL became more uncertain than ever before.

“I waited for an invite to camps from NFL teams but didn’t get the call,” Boseko recalls. “Eventually, time was running out. I was getting impatient and wanted to pay football, you know, because I love the sport. I decided to sign and go with the BC Lions, and I think it was the best decision for me.”

Boseko, who signed with the Lions last September, is now finding himself at his very first BC Lions Training Camp and finding confidence within himself, his teammates, and the Lions’ new head coach, Jeff Tedford.

“It’s been a good experience,” he says. “Getting a chance to work with these guys and learning how this 2015 team is going to look like has been great. We have some good leaders in Coach Tedford and we have a good team, a very talented team. We’re just here to put in the work and hopefully it’ll pay off.”

As for his thoughts on joining his hometown team, Boseko is definitely excited to be a part of the Lions.

“It’s amazing, it’s very cool. The best thing is that I get to play in front of my family and loved ones and get to represent Canada. It’s a blessing.”

For those who want to see him in action, you can catch him at the BC Lions pre-season game on Friday, June 19 at 7:00pm at Thunderbird Stadium at UBC.

2010 Senior Bowl Duo Invited to 2015 BC Lions Camp

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Left: Bibake Uppal (Photo: Ron Hole) Right: Brandon Deschamps (Photo: UBC Football)

For many high school players, having the chance to play for a professional team, let alone a university team, is a dream come true.

For 2010 Senior Bowl participants, Bibake Uppal and Brandon Deschamps, this dream is one step closer to becoming a reality.

After not being picked up by a team in the 2015 CFL Draft, the two were ecstatic when they were extended an invitation to the 2015 BC Lions camp. I had a chance to catch up with them at Hillside Stadium on the first day of mini camp to hear about their thoughts on this opportunity.

“You know, it’s a dream,” says Deschamps. “Everybody says it, but you don’t realize how special it is until you get the opportunity to be here and until it all becomes real.”

“It’s huge, it’s the only time you get to play professionally. I can’t put it into words how excited I am,” says Uppal.

Both players also cited their experience at the 2010 Senior Bowl as a major starting point that helped them get to this point in their football careers.

“The Senior Bowl [was] the place UBC [first] saw me, so it was a really big part of my football career,” says Deschamps. “UBC would never have invited me to their spring camp to try out as a walk on, and I wouldn’t have had the career [that I’ve had at UBC.]”

Uppal also had a similar experience at Senior Bowl. “I had fun,” he recalls. “The game was at SFU and I ended up playing at SFU. The coaches were able to see me and see what I [could] do, and it was an experience which allowed me to get exposure.”

Both Uppal and Deschamps will be attending the BC Lions mini camp, starting on May 28th, and will have a chance to practice with the veteran players on May 31st, which is the first official day of the BC Lions training camp. The camp will run until mid June, with the final team roster slated to be announced on June 20th.

We’re definitely excited to see members of our Football BC family have a chance at making their dreams come true – best of luck to Bibake and Brandon at the camp!

“Where are they now?” Senior Bowl series – Nathan Lund

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Photo Credit: Michael Luk

With just days left before the start of the 2015 Senior Bowl camp, I had a chance to interview yet another Senior Bowl alumnus. This time it was Nathan Lund, a Centennial Centaurs alumnus and a running back for the Langley Rams.

Nathan, who recently wrapped up his second season with the Rams, also has fond memories of the Senior Bowl.

“Senior Bowl was really good for me. It was a good experience because my last year wasn’t really a good year for my school team,” Lund recalls. “[Since I was] playing with the best of the best of the high school players, I was looking to get more competition, more looks, and run a lot more offence than I did when I played for my high school team.”

Nathan did end up showing his potential in the 2013 Senior Bowl game with the highlight being a kickoff return for a touchdown – a play he cites as his most memorable Senior Bowl moment.

“I was running down the sideline along the open field… My brother and cousins were on the other side of field in the bleachers, and when I ran in for the touchdown, I pointed at them and they cheered,” he laughs while recalling the excitement his family showed at the game.

Although Nathan had a great showing at the Senior Bowl, he didn’t always have the chance to show his skills at the camp.

“I was all over the place. I wanted to play running back, got moved to defense and then moved back to offence. I was one of the ones that was behind most of the time, so I had to work hard for my spot,” he recalls.

“That work motivated me to not think about what other people think and try and just be the best I can be. [Since that game], I’ve thought about that every time I play.”

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Photo Credit: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

Since then, Nathan has taken this important lesson to heart and even got an invite to the BC Lions rookie camp last year. He was one of the youngest players at the camp at 19 years old.

So, what’s currently on Nathan’s plate during the off-season?

Nathan was invited to the BC Lions’ evaluation camp happening on May 3rd. If the coaches like what they see, he will be able to attend the rookie camp this year again. We’re excited to see what an impact the Senior Bowl had on a player like Nathan, who is making waves at such a young age. Best of luck at the camp, Nathan!

 

Feeling inspired to watch this year’s Senior Bowl Game? You can catch this year’s Senior Bowl game at McLeod Stadium (Langley) on Saturday, March 21st at 11am!

“Where are they now?” Senior Bowl series – Jordan Pugh

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Photo Credit: Andy Fang

With the 2015 Senior Bowl less than a week away, I had a chance to catch up with several Senior Bowl alumni to hear all about their experiences.

The first Senior Bowl alumnus I had the chance to talk to was Jordan Pugh, who played with the Nanaimo Redmen before making his way up the hill to play for SFU.

In 2012, he won the Most Outstanding Defensive Back award at the Senior Bowl game, where he had the chance to play alongside his current SFU teammates, Ante Milanovic-Litre (Notre Dame) and Michael Couture (Centennial).

“[Ante and Michael] were on the Senior Bowl team as me, so that was cool looking back,” says Pugh reflecting on the event three years ago. “Now, they’ve been my teammates for the past three years.”

Although he played against his current teammates growing up, having the chance to play on the same team for the first time at the Senior Bowl really fueled his appreciation for the other players at the game.

“Everyone [at the Senior Bowl] comes from being the best player on their team, so obviously when you go from playing other teams to playing in an All Star bowl, everyone is bigger, faster, stronger, and it was a small taste of what football was like at the next level,” he explains.

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Pictured: Jordan Pugh (#28) making the tackle

Other than having the chance to compete against the best players in the province and winning the Most Outstanding DB award, Jordan remembers one of the highlights as training at the BC Lions facility.

“It was a little bit humbling and motivating at the same time. That was pretty cool,” he recalls.

So, what did he think about the overall Senior Bowl experience?

“It was a good experience, realizing that you aren’t going to be the biggest, fastest and strongest kid on the team forever. That fueled me to train harder and get better, because you’re not always going to be that guy,” he explains.

That mindset proved to be beneficial for Jordan, as he caught the eye of Dino Geremia, current Football BC Technical Director who happened to be the SFU defensive coordinator at the time. Having the chance to work with Dino at the Senior Bowl and on the U-18 team was part of the reason why he ended up playing up at SFU.

Thanks for talking with us Jordan, and best of luck in the upcoming season!

Feeling inspired to watch this year’s Senior Bowl Game? You can catch this year’s Senior Bowl game at McLeod Stadium (Langley) on Saturday, March 21st at 11am!

Darrell Ross’ life lessons a key to the Sun Devils’ success

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Photo Credit: Philip Chan, Football BC

In over 10 years of being involved in football as a trainer, Darrell Ross has seen his fair share of ups and downs.

Darrell got his start in football by volunteering with Coquitlam Minor Football, then got involved with the Vancouver Trojans before becoming a crucial part of the South Delta Sun Devils, the latest team to be crowned the Subway Bowl Senior AAA Champions.

In that time, Darrell says he has gained a lot of great memories from being involved in the sport.

“I think one of the most memorable experiences was winning South Delta’s first Double A championship in 2008,” he recalls. “It was actually the semi-final win that was the most memorable, as we came back to tie the game and win in a shootout.

“The perseverance and tenacity that the kids showed [that day] is what I really love about football.”

In that memorable semi-final game six years ago, Rick Hansen was ahead 28-14 in the third quarter, but the Sun Devils caught up to tie the game and scored a touchdown and convert in overtime.

The Hurricanes responded with a touchdown of their own but their two-point conversion attempt failed, sending the Sun Devils to face Seaquam in the finals.

This year, in similar fashion, the Sun Devils also came from behind to win their semi-final game against No. 1 ranked Terry Fox, 16-13, en route to capturing the Subway Bowl championship this season.

“I was emotional [when we won in the final], but I was even more emotional when we won against Terry Fox,” says Darrell. “The boys had to find it in themselves to come out and find a way to play their game.”

The perseverance and tenacity that the Sun Devils showed in their first ever Double A championship in 2008, and this year in winning their first ever Triple A championship this season, is no coincidence or fluke.

Whenever the Sun Devils players need motivation, or to give themselves some perspective, all they have to do is look at Darrell and his own personal story of persevering through difficult situations.

In the summer of 2011, Darrell dealt with plenty of uncertainty after being diagnosed with cancer. Amazingly, he showed true grit in the face of adversity.

Even during his treatments, Darrell never stopped working and still found time to support the Sun Devils at their regular season games and in the Subway Bowl playoffs. Several months after his surgery, he volunteered as a trainer at Football BC’s Senior Bowl camp, an event he has been a part of for several years now.

“Until you see a specialist, you don’t know about the cancer, how much time you have left, or how severe it is,” explains Darrell.

During those trying times, he had to find it in himself to stay positive and persevere, much like the players on his beloved team.

“It’s never over. You can always persevere. You need to live each day for each day,” says Darrell. “That’s a lesson I learned [in my fight with cancer] that I try and teach the players on the field.”

With a role model like Darrell on the team, it’s no wonder that the Sun Devils rose all the way to become champions with their ‘never-back-down’ mentality.

Once again, congratulations to Darrell, South Delta players and their coaching staff for a great season!

Jay Prepchuk Announced as a NFL Youth Coach of the Year Finalist

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Jay Prepchuk, head coach of the Handsworth Royals football team, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2014 NFL Youth Coach of the Year award as announced by the NFL on Wednesday.

The award, now in its 16th year, recognizes community or high school level coaches who dedicate themselves to the development of young players on and off the field.

Shortly after the announcement was made, Coach Prepchuk took the time to speak with me despite his busy schedule working as a counselor at Handsworth Secondary.

“I’m very honoured and privileged to be a finalist. It’s almost hard to believe,” said Jay, who was the only BC coach to make the finalist list consisting of only ten coaches across Canada.

Prepchuk, who first started coaching in grade 11 with the Handsworth junior varsity team, credits his love for coaching to Dave Pearce, a football coach at Handsworth at the time. After his first taste of coaching, Jay never looked back and his love for coaching blossomed over the years.

Although his team has faced some adversity this season, his players are still as determined as ever.

“We have some excellent young players coming into the program,” explained Jay. “They’re already excited for next season and looking ahead.”

What really stuck me about Coach Prepchuk was his humble attitude towards being recognized among hundreds, even thousands, of coaches and nominees across Canada. He credits the coaches around him who he learns from everyday, as well as the players, support staff, parents, and the administration at Handsworth Secondary.

He explained that in football, there is no such thing as individual success, and is grateful for the opportunities he has had as a coach with the support he’s had over the years.

Earlier this year, Jay was also named the new U18 Team BC head coach. With the final cut-down camp fast approaching on December 13, he, along with his coaching staff, will have the difficult task of going over the list of prospects to select the final squad for the trip to the Tanoa Bowl in Auburn, Washington in late December.

For those players who make the team, Jay has some wise words of advice.

“Continue to stay in shape in the off season, and come out ready to represent Team BC and Canada”, said Jay. “It’s a Canadian pride thing just as much as it is a BC pride thing. We’re going to be the only Canadian team there, so we want everyone to come out excited to be a part of it.”

Congratulations on being selected as a finalist, Coach Prepchuk, and thank you for all that you’ve done for football in the province!

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The Burens: Born to Play Together

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Pictured: Justin Buren (left) and Jason Buren (right)

Jason and Justin Buren have always been the closest of siblings.

Growing up, they played many different sports together such as track, basketball, lacrosse, baseball and soccer. Ultimately, they decided to focus on football as they felt there were more opportunities for them in the sport.

Each has played football for 12 years, six of them together, starting with Community football. Having played together at Centennial Secondary throughout high school, Jason and Justin are now reunited as members of the SFU Clan football team.

Jason, who is one year older than Justin, cited going to SFU as a collective decision between him and his brother.

“I wanted to go back home and attend school in Washington State, but I reconsidered my decision and we both decided that SFU was our best bet,” says Jason.

Justin decided to follow in his brother’s footsteps and attend SFU one year later. The dynamic duo is definitely happy about having the opportunity to play together once again.

This year, Jason switched to the cornerback position, while Justin got his first taste of the NCAA with his first career start as a receiver. This switch has had a positive effect on the brothers as they are able to work together and help each other improve.

“I know how to grind his gears,” laughs Justin. “We think a lot alike, so when we play together there are times [when we] both know exactly what [the other is] thinking, because we’re on different sides of the ball. I think it makes us better because we give each other the best looks so that we can improve.”

“I’m more inclined to try and help him get to the next level because I’m not afraid of [correcting] him, and he’s not afraid of making a play on me, so it’s beneficial to be playing with my brother for sure,” adds Jason.

When asked about a memorable football moment, Justin remembers the first time they got their hands on their first set of football gear.

“When we first started playing football and got all our shoulder pads and helmets for the first time, we went to the backyard, put on all our gear and started hitting each other for fun,” said Justin.

Jason quotes his favourite football memory as winning two championships with the Centaurs in 2009 with the AAA Senior and Junior teams, and receiving the AAA Junior MVP award from BC High School Football. The brothers even had an opportunity to share a special moment when playing football together in the AAA Junior championship game.

In the AAA Junior final, Jason and Justin completed crucial plays to help the team in the win.

“I fumbled the ball with a few minutes left in the game after catching a deep pass and it was the worst feeling in the world and I was really upset with myself,“ recalls Justin. “Afterwards, on offense, I knew I had to make up for it. I ended up getting an interception and we started marching the field.”

After Justin’s crucial interception, the Centaurs inched closer to the end zone as the game clock ticked away. With only 14 seconds left in the game, Jason kicked the game-winning field goal putting the Centaurs up one point to clinch the championship win.

“He made the kick and we all rushed onto the field, even though the game wasn’t over,” said Justin. “It was such a great feeling to win together.”

“That was a very special moment in my football career,” added Jason.

Perhaps it is special moments like these that give the Burens such a strong sibling bond on and off the field.

We’re excited to see what lies ahead for the brothers as they play with the Clan over the next few years!