V.I. Raiders coach Jerome Erdman welcomes Mt. Douglas Rams standout recruits Declann Michielin

V.I. Raiders sign players who know how to win

NANAIMO – The V.I. Raiders added a huge list of talented recruits to the roster on the CJFL's signing day on Wednesday.

The V.I. Raiders feel like winners as signing day draws to a close.

Nanaimo’s Canadian Junior Football League team added a huge list of talented recruits to the roster Wednesday as it builds toward the 2016 season.

“We’re really excited with our recruiting class. It’s been the best recruiting class they’ve had here in years,” said Jerome Erdman, Raiders coach.

The team was successful in adding pieces from across the country, including close to home.

“Like every other team, we’ve got to recruit heavily in our own backyard which is the Island for us, and we honestly feel that we have got the best recruits from the Island so we are very pleased,” Erdman said.

That includes four players who were standouts with the powerhouse Mt. Douglas Rams program in Victoria: defensive lineman Trystin Waters, running back Declann Michielin and defensive backs Gevhahn McNally-Hardisty and Manny Lopez.

“I just love the atmosphere up here and the great tradition of winning,” Waters said. “Also, it feels like a family and in those three days I was up here for spring camp, I just couldn’t beat that feeling … Everyone was there to win and I come from a winning program, so to go somewhere where everyone’s not there to win would just not be me.”

McNally-Hardisty worked out with the Westshore Rebels before choosing the Raiders; the V.I. coaching staff and the team’s compete level were reasons for his choice.

“It was back and forth in my head; I didn’t really know where to go,” he said. “But it was time to make a decision and this is where my heart and my head told me to go.”

Michielin also mentioned the decision-making process was “a little tough,” but he liked the Raiders’ coaching staff and he anticipates success in Nanaimo. He also likes the idea of continuing to team up with his Mt. Doug friends.

“I’ve been playing football with them my entire life, so it will definitely be nice playing with the same familiar faces I’ve grown up playing with,” he said.

He looks forward to the challenge of moving up to junior football.

“I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different, faster, bigger people, but I think I’m a tough guy and I definitely think I can make the adjustment easily,” he said.

Waters said based on what he’s seen as far as talent and work ethic, “the sky’s the limit for this team,” and he wants to be able to contribute.

“I’ll just work my [tail] off in the gym, listen to coaches and be ready to play whenever they give me my shot,” he said.

Nanaimo players choose their hometown team

There are also some strong Nanaimo prospects joining their hometown team. Former Barsby Bulldogs quarterback North Rainey signed on, along with some more recent Barsby players including defensive lineman Doyle Sosnowski, receiver Austin Olson and linebacker Cory Fletcher. Jake Borserio, a running back from the Nanaimo Redmen, also signed with V.I.

Rainey only recently returned to the gridiron after attending junior college in the U.S. last year on a baseball scholarship.

“I enjoyed it, but I just had that itch for football that I missed. Last fall it was one of the toughest things not playing football…” he said. “I’m just happy to be home and playing again.”

Pitching built his arm strength, improving his zip on his football throws and his deep balls, he said, but the key to his game remains his athleticism.

“Hopefully I play well enough where they want to start me, but if not, there’s always other [positions] I could fill in,” Rainey said. “I’m just excited to play.”

Sosnowski said there are a lot of unknowns about the transition from high school to junior football, but he’s excited about learning a new brand of football, especially with the Raiders.

“There were a few different choices I could have went to, but in reality, I like to stay where I love and that’s here in Nanaimo and it’s going to be great playing football here,” he said.

Team adds ‘studs at every position’

Other Island players signing on include offensive lineman Brock Mould of Parksville and kicker Bryce Couture, formerly of the Rebels.

Also, the Raiders announced the signing of defensive lineman Diego Pineda and linebacker Jace Harden from Chilliwack, quarterback Jake Laberge of Port Coquitlam, quarterback Kevin Chopek from Medicine Hat, Alta., fullback Scott Messier from Squamish, receiver Brycen Mayoh of St. Catharines, Ont., defensive end Bailey Pavcek and linebacker Todd Campbell of Winnipeg, and kicker James Parker of Abbotsford, among others.

Glenn Cook, Raiders general manager, said the fact that the team made such inroads recruiting in Victoria and the Lower Mainland shows that the Raiders “are doing things right.” He said the team is going to be young and is going to make some mistakes, but it’s going to be good. He can’t wait to see main camp in July.

“It’s going to be crazy,” Cook said. “Main camp is going to be high-flying, high-speed, hard-hitting, because you’ve got three, four, five studs at every position fighting for a starting job.”

Erdman said a lot of rookies will be able to step right into starting roles on the Raiders, and he looks forward to seeing how the team takes shape, starting with main camp in just six weeks’ time.

“It’s going to be super competitive,” he said. “I’m excited, the rest of the coaching staff’s excited, the players are excited and that’s the important part.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Indoor Busking Festival to be held this week in Nanaimo

Fundraiser concert to feature singers recruited from the Harbourfront Walkway

Mount Benson park users now have 100 more parking spaces

Regional District of Nanaimo opens new parking lot on Benson View Road

Nanaimo masters win track and field titles

Nanaimo Track and Field Club athletes take gold at provincials

Nanaimo council grants development permit for 170 apartments near Long Lake

Concerns raised over traffic around Rutherford Road

Man to be sentenced for sexual abuse of young girl in Nanaimo

Stephen Mark Castleden also sentenced for child pornography-related charges

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

POLL: How often do you see motorists throw cigarette butts out the window?

How often do you see motorists throw lit cigarette butts out the… Continue reading

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

Editorial: Make it out to the night market this summer

First Commercial Street Night Market of the summer is this Thursday, June 20

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

Most Read