Rams players say good-bye
Five players don the horns for the last time
Article: Brady Lang – Sports Writer
The Rams season is now all but a memory after a 33-15 loss to the No. 10 CIS ranked inter provincial rival, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
After a long, grueling season for the Green and Gold, the Rams now have to focus on next season while saying goodbye to numerous veterans around the football club.
The Rams will be saying goodbye to fifth-year players wide receiver Kolten Solomon, punter/kicker Taylor Wandler, slotback Mark McConkey, defensive back Brady Aulie and defensive lineman Logan Brooks. These five veterans will be missed greatly around the young club.
While these players have shared many memories together, for slotback Mark McConkey, he believes that he will miss the lifelong relationships made within the locker room the most.
“Being in the locker room and hanging out with the guys will be the toughest part for me, being around the team even in the off-season doing workouts with the guys,” he said. “Building those lifelong friendships will be tough to walk away from.”
McConkey spent five years with the Rams and was chosen as a Canada West All Star in 2011. In 33 games with the club McConkey caught 180 passes while amassing 1991 yards in his time with the squad.
“It’s hard to pick one, but if I had to choose it would probably be back in 2008 catching a touchdown from Teale Orban in the endzone,” said the slot back when asked about his best moment as a Ram. “Guys on the team realized this young kid can actually play.”
McConkey ended his tenure as the all-time receptions leader in Canada West history and 21st in career receiving yards in the Canada West history books. When asked about what’s next in his lifelong plans the Calgary native says he plans to continue on with teaching.
“I think I’m done with football. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to play in the CFL or anything like that, which is fine for me. I’ve known that for a while now,” said McConkey. “I’m interning now in Greenall and just moving on with teaching with my life. Someday I’d like to coach whether it’s with the Rams or in High School, that’s the lifelong plan.”
McConkey along with the four other Rams will be missed, yet there is definitely optimism for the future of the club.
The young offensive line now will have another year of experience under their belts and first-year CIS quarterback – and fourth-year quarterback – Caymon Shutter will be used to the Canadian game after seven games with the club in 2013. Leading receivers Addison Richards and slot back Jared Janotta will be entering their fourth and fifth years respectively.
The young Rams can take positives from each and every game this season and use the experience for the upcoming years of the program. The squad’s 2-6 record could have been improved early on after two tough losses against Saskatchewan and Calgary, so the clubs record definitely wasn’t a direct indication of how the team played.
Although it’s easy to pick and prod at what could have been done differently for the club, the truth is that 2013 is now history and that fans and players can look forward to the 2014 edition of the Regina Rams.
Here at the Carillon and students around the University would like to thank Kolten Solomon, Taylor Wandler, Mark McConkey, Brady Aulie and Logan Brooks that are now graduated out of the football program and wish them luck in their future endeavors.
Graduating players career highlights:
After signing with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for a second time in 2013, Solomon returned to the Rams for his final year of eligibility – something Rams fans were extremely grateful for. This year with the Rams, Solomon earned the most all-purpose yards on the team with 622, while averaging 95.4 yards per game. He also tied for a team-high four touchdowns and easily earns the award for most swag. Solomon will always be remembered for his clutch plays and incredible athleticism.
After spending his first three years shadowing former Rams star punter Chris Bodner, Wandler was able to come into his own this year. Wandler lead the team in points with 46, while averaging 39.1 yards per punt – including three that were greater than 50 yards. Wandler’s successor is likely to be Zach Schmidt, who will be heading into his fifth-year with the Rams.
Finishing the season with 23 solo tackles and assisting in 12 others, Aulie was constantly a defensive force this season. In addition to his presence on defence, Aulie also took over the teams returning duties for a period of time, which was highlighted by a 45-yard kick return against the Calgary Dinos in 2011. Aulie will be remembered for laying out the opposition, and for being that guy on the team with a famous family member. His cousin is currently a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL.
Heading into his final year with the Rams, Brooks was riding an impressive string of 32 consecutive conference games played. This year he lead the Rams with 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, while also registering one fumble recovery. Possibly the greatest highlight will be his interception against UBC on Oct. 13, 2012, which he then carried for 38-yards. Brooks will leave the Rams holding a place in their history books as he currently holds the top spot in the school in multiple categories including tackles for a loss with 27.5, quarterback sacks with 14 and yards from sacks with 94.