Three players looked to impress at national competition
Author: brady lang – sports writer
After the Regina Rams were shut out in the 2016 CFL draft, the team produced a great showing for the future in the 2016 East West Bowl.
Three players were chosen to represent the West squad in offensive lineman Matt Degelman, receiver Mitchell Picton, and linebacker Michael Stefanovic. The three Rams selections helped the West team knock off the East 29-14 at McGill Stadium, home of the Montreal Alouettes.
The game was tight in the first half until the West blew the game open with local product and former quarterback of the Regina Thunder Asher Hastings throwing two passing touchdowns to Tylor Henry of the Alberta Golden Bears.
Hastings finished the game with 237 yards, with 26 of those yards going into the hands of Mitchell Picton.
As much as the game was a success for the West, the three Rams took a lot from the entire experience. The game is not only just a game for the best in CIS football, it also contains a week of practices and a pro-style combine, just to ensure that the CFL scouts get to see and evaluate every aspect of the prospects.
For some players, this also gives them a chance to get their looks at new positions.
Third-year offensive lineman Matt Degelman was thrown into a new position for the week, moving over to centre rather than his normal position at tackle.
“As I’ve been playing tackle for three years already so it was a little nerve racking.” Degelman commented, “During the combine drills I think I stacked up pretty well in all the drills, even though I was one of the lighter offensive linemen there.”
The bowl game is an excellent opportunity to get players names out there with CFL scouts, as well as being put into a position to compete against players of the same caliber as themselves.
“It was eye-opening experience [sic] to see scouts there evaluating us, makes me think there is a chance at playing at the next level,” Degelman commented when asked about the experience. “The game went really well. I was happy with my job at centre and I played my natural position at tackle too. It was great to get the win.
“The game was a great experience for me, it was a lot of hard work and pressure though; it was a great opportunity to see the other talent in the league that I normally wouldn’t compete against. I played centre for most of the week, which was a new position for me.”
When asked about the entire experience of the week, Degelman says the quality of football was the biggest aspect of the week.
“Just that you have to know everyone is there for a reason. They’re all really good players and you can’t take any player lightly,” says Degelman. “Every rep has to be a quality rep and your technique has to be on point or your weakness can get exposed really easily.”
Looking forward to next season, Degelman commented how good the team looked in spring camp and how he was looking forward to the 2017 CFL draft.
“Hopefully I can translate the skills I’ve learned during that week into season. I’m glad I had the opportunity to get my name out there within the CFL community and hopefully I can continue to get noticed.”
For the players with the Rams, this game was the first win they have been able to savour since Nov. 1, 2014, defeating the Alberta Golden Bears. The program has struggled since losing former longtime head coach Frank McCrystal. In his successors only season with the club, Mike Gibson could not muster up a win throughout his time with the Rams.
The Rams will need to take a big step moving forward, hoping to improve on their dismal 2016 season. New head coach Stephen Bryce will have to lean on these veterans who played in this game and took their experience back to the team.
The East West Bowl game is the first step in getting picked in the CFL draft. Now that these players have this initial experience and their foot in the door, professional football is now the next step.
Moving forward into the season, the Rams coaching staff has now gone through the second turnover in just the same amount of years. If the team is indeed successful again, these three veterans will have to be leaned on heavily moving forward.