Sun welcome back Turek for season opener
It would be safe to assume no single player on the Okanagan Sun will be more grateful to be back on the football field this weekend than Jamie Turek.
One year ago, on the first play of the 2013 B.C. Football Conference campaign at the Apple Bowl, the 20-year-old defensive back suffered a devastating injury to his left knee.
With tears to his ACL and MCL, Turek spent the entire season and ensuing off-season in arduous rehabilitation.
On Saturday night in Chilliwack, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Winnipeg native will make his official return when the Sun takes on the Valley Huskers in the season opener.
"I'm super excited, I couldn't be more excited to get out there and play," said Turek, who had surgery on the knee in October. "It's been a very long off-season and a lot of work has gone into getting back. I'm still going to be a bit nervous, but once I get that first hit in and get a feel for the game, hopefully I'll be right back where I was."
Sun head coach Shane Beatty is happy for both Turek and the football club.
"It was a tough thing for him going down on the first play last year," said Beatty. "He's just been flying around out there. He's a great kid and player, and it's nice to see him back."
Turek is part of what Beatty and the Sun staff consider the deepest area of the ball club, with no fewer than eight players capable of starting this summer in the defensive secondary.
And with several key additions to both the linebacking corps and defensive line, Beatty says there should be few noticeable weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball.
"We've added a lot of guys to compliment the players we have, so there's really good depth and talent on defence," Beatty said. "Our defence this year is going to be fast and physical."
An exhaustive search for recruits in the off-season yielded some positive results for Beatty and the Sun, as close to 30 newcomers are expected to play key roles with the junior club this year.
Beatty said the likes of Dexter Janke (safety), Ron Mwamba (linebacker), Cliff Crews (centre), Jean Ventose (DB), Liam Wishart (receiver), Kory Nagata (running back), Oleks Bobrovskyy (linebacker) and Connor Novak (offensive line) are all potential game-changers for the Sun.
On offense, Beatty said the Sun is still relatively young but will be led into battle this season by third-year quarterback Cam Bedore and a skilled, fast corps of receivers.
Bedore will get the call to start Saturday in Chilliwack, with rookie Josiah Joseph and returning veteran Matt Calderwood waiting in the wings.
"Cam will be the guy right now," said Beatty. "He has the experience, he's very mobile and has a strong arm. He's been looking pretty good."
As far as special teams are concerned, Beatty said the kick coverage and return units could be the most improved areas of the ball club.
"Our special teams were OK last year, but this year they're noticeably better," he said. "We have good special teams guys that won't even travel to Chilliwack (40-player roster). We've added so much depth there, we're going to be a lot better."
As for Saturday night's opener against the Huskers, one of the BCFC's weaker teams, Beatty wants to see sound, smart, fundamental football from his club.
"I just want to see us execute our game plan," Beatty said. "We haven't seen them play yet, so I just want to see us execute and really limit our mental mistakes."
Kick off Saturday night in Chilliwack is 7 p.m.
The Sun's home opener is Saturday, Aug. 9 against the Vancouver Island Raiders.