author: nathan mccarville | sports writer
All-star praise caps off a tough end to season for Rams
The University of Regina Rams have finished their current season as of November 4 where the team was unable emerge victorious over the UBC Thunderbirds in the 2017 Canada West semi-finals. The game ended with a final score of 28-21 for the Thunderbirds, bringing the Rams’ season to an official end with a record of 4 wins and 5 losses.
The year began with an early string of victories that looked nothing but promising. However, the reality of finishing a season early and being excluded from the playoffs right as they begin is demoralizing, 4 among the Rams have been named part of the Canada West all-star team. The players who are counted among receiving this honour are Atlee Simon for his role on the Rams as a running back, Nick Cross in his first season with the Rams in his position as line-backer, Noah Picton as the team’s starting quarterback, and finally Nicholas Dheilly for his place in Rams’ defensive line. Cross was also named the rookie of the year for his performance on the year
Cross became a starter with the Rams during the first week of the season after joining the team for the 2017 season. Without a pause between Cross’ time of the field, playing in high school for the Dr. Martin Leboldus Golden Suns and playing for the Rams, Cross is the first to claim this feat of merit since Jamir Walker did the same back in 2008 when he started playing for the Rams as a Cornerback right out of high school. Cross boasts 47 tackles over the season, 7 of which happening in his first week on the team. There isn’t a doubt why he was one of the few to claim the honour of being able to start for the Rams right out of the gate. Over the season, Cross was additionally able to get an interception, a forced fumble, and a sack. Of his involvement in the team, the head coach of the Rams, Steve Bryce said that “Nick has come in and completely solidified that outside linebacker position for us, and that’s a huge deal for an 18-year-old kid to come in and do that. He’s got an extremely high motor that’s always going at 100 per cent, he’s got a high football IQ, and he’s just an extremely coachable guy. Nick is an absolute pleasure to have in this program.”
Previous to being named as part of the all-star team by Canada West, Atlee Simon has performed with distinction this season. During the season, Simon broke the record for career-rushing touchdowns by a Rams player as well as the all time record for touchdowns overall. Simon recently played his last game as a Ram in the season ending match up with the Thunderbirds.
As a preceding accomplishment to recently being named as part of the group of players named as the Canada west all-star team, Simon was also named the U SPORTS offensive player of the week for his role in the game against the Golden Bears when he was able to get 3 touchdowns for the Rams. Atlee is receiving his place among the Canada West all-stars due to the high average of rushing yards he had this season, at 114.3 rushing yards per game, Atlee Simon comes in second only to one other player in the Canada West category.
Nick Dheilly, a second-year player with the Rams, also has the honour of the all-star award in the defensive category that has tracked the amount of sacks a player has gotten over the season. The defensive lineman has been able to get six-and-a-half sacks on opposing quarterbacks this season, the half being when two or more players were involved in the action, as well, the player has 9 and a half tackles under his belt, proving his medal of the honour of being placed among Canada West’s all-star line-up.
Lastly, the Rams’ starting quarterback, Noah Picton, has also selected as a Canada West all-star. Picton was named for three all-star positions, being the second of the ‘leaders’ in the Canada West Statistics for passing yards with 311 yards averaged per game, tied for first in the category of passing touchdowns at 19, and second in receiving touchdowns at 8. Noah Picton has had a success rate of 68.77 per cent passing percentage this season, having completed 207 of the 301 passes that Picton threw. The third-year business major had a huge impact on the team, being the instigator of the Rams advancing across the field, as he was able to read the field, the game, and the strengths of his team.
As the regular season has come to a close, the individual legacies of the talented athletes enlisted and encouraged by the coaching staff and teammates of the University of Regina Rams football team are etched into this year’s statistics as some of the best players seen in the league this season. These players have shown a distinction through their football careers, whether it is only the beginning of which with the Rams, or the end of their career with the Rams as they prepare to move on to a football career outside of U SPORTS and Canada West.