When Kelowna Secondary School football player Conner Novak hit the field for a week of work-outs at the B.C. Lions Training facility last month, it was a chance to measure his abilities against the top graduating high school football players in the province.
The 17-year-old Novak was invited to attend the Football B.C. Senior Bowl along with other top high school football players in B.C. Players were either provincial all-stars, members of Team B.C.’s Under-18 program or players who stood out at evaluations held across the province.
And after completing a dominating season in his last year as a member of the KSS Owls, the 6-1, 250 pound defensive lineman didn’t disappoint at the Senior Bowl, which culminated with an all star game after a week-long practice camp.
Novak was named defensive MVP of the game and top defensive lineman at the camp.
“It was a great experience,” said Novak this week. “The competition was tough. Everyone was fighting pretty hard to show who was the best. I definitely felt like I made an impression on some players and coaches out there. It was a great group of players and no one was playing selfishly. It was just clean, smash-mouth football.”
And the momentum Novak gained at the camp has pushed him closer to finding a place to play following his graduation from KSS this year. Novak is currently mulling over several options of where to ply his trade next year and is in the process of committing to a team from a few different options, including CIS schools the University of Calgary and UBC as well as the Okanagan Sun, still playing in the Canadian Junior Football League but heading to the CIS at some point.
Novak says it’s not an easy decision to make but adds his dream has always been to play at a higher level after high school and he’s happy to have a choice to make.
“It’s really quite stressful to have to make a choice, whether you want to leave home or not, what school will treat you the best and what kind of education you can get,” said Novak. “When I started playing high school I knew I wanted to keep playing and as the years went by it started to look like that dream of moving to the higher level could become a reality.”
So while the defensive lineman considers his options, one thing is clear, he is saying goodbye to the high school game and a band of brothers in the KSS football program where he learned his trade.
Novak says his high school experience couldn’t have been better.
“KSS will definitely be an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s not just a sport it’s a family. I will always look back and remember how we bonded as brothers on and off the field. For us it was a family. Once you are on the team together you are brothers forever.”