Chilliwack’s Valley Huskers load up on local talent for 2021 BC Football Conference season

The junior football club is looking for a return to action after COVID cancelled the 2020 campaign

The longest offseason in Bob Reist’s life is slowly coming to an end.

As the COVID pandemic eases, it becomes more likely a junior football season will happen in 2021, and Reist’s Valley Huskers will finally return to action.

He can’t wait.

“It has been the world’s longest offseason, for sure, and at times it felt never-ending,” said Reist, whose BC Football Conference team last played in 2019. “But at the same time, we got a lot done. I’m glad to be wrapping this pandemic up and seeing the benefits of that work.”

June 1 was signing day across the BCFC, and Reist had the Huskers Instagram and Twitter feeds pumping out commitment notices.

He expects the team will have its biggest roster since he took over in 2017 (80-plus players) when they hit the field for training camp in (hopefully) August.

That group will include several local players. Among the players showing up on social media this week — Mateo Tuioti (Sardis), Dhillon Myers (G.W. Graham) and Brent Bilodeau (G.W. Graham). The 2020 recruiting class, which has yet to play a game includes several more locals like quarterback Josh Janssen (Sardis) and receivers Bentley Thomas (G.W. Graham) and Noah Saunders (Sardis) and running back/linebacker Jaiden Claassen.

“Our local recruiting has been good and we also added guys like Dhag Mora (receiver) and Ryan Stzuhar (receiver) out of Abbotsford, so we feel our local base is great,” Reist said. “And we’ve done well with out-of-town recruiting as well.

“I could go on and on about people I’m really excited for, and I don’t want to leave anyone out.”

It wouldn’t be a Reist offseason without some University of Manitoba content, and sure enough he’s added a pair of skill players from the Bisons backfield in running backs Colton Nedotiafko and Brandon O’Connor.

“Brandon is a next-level running back, there’s no doubt about it,” Reist said. “He is big and he is strong and he is going to be a force to be reckoned with in this league. And Colton is another big downhill runner. I expect him to come in and compete and push Brandon and the other running backs that we have.”

On the other side of the ball, Reist is overjoyed to welcome back a player who was a BCFC all-star in 2017, as Danny Harris returns to the team’s defensive backfield.

“When I heard he was coming back it brought a huge smile to my face,” Reist said. “He was playing in Manitoba and dealing with some stuff out there the last couple years. He wants to finish his football where he started and he’s another guy who will be competing for a spot in what I believe will be a very good secondary.

“Danny and all the guys we have coming in are outstanding football players and hard-working kids who know they’re coming in to a very competitive situation. They’ll have to earn their spots because it will be highly competitive at all positions. That will give us a lot of depth and put us in good position to handle the grind of a BCFC schedule.”


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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l The Huskers are looking for billet families for the 2021 season which will likely kick off with training camp in August and the season start in September. BCFC players are between the ages of 18 and 22 and they come to Chilliwack from across Canada. Billets are paid $600 a month and anyone interested can contact Angela at billets@valleyhuskers.ca or visit valleyhuskers.ca/billets.

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