Five-year BCFC veteran Tommy Howes leads the Okanagan Sun with 45 receptions this season.

Sun’s Howes a leader by example

In his final season of junior football, 22-year-old Tommy Howes is a commodity, on and off the field

Tommy Howes admits one day he’ll likely wax nostalgic about his five seasons in an Okanagan Sun uniform.

But for now, there are far more pressing matters at hand for the Winnipeg-born receiver than pondering his past or looking too far into the future.

A proponent of head coach Shane Beatty’s one-day-at-a-time philosophy, Howes is looking no further than Sunday’s B.C. Football Conference matchup with the Chilliwack Huskers.

“I haven’t reflected much on my career here, I’m really just focusing on the task at hand,” said Howes, 22, who graduates from junior football at the end of the season. “Coach (Shane) Beatty has taught us the mentality that only the next game matters. So that’s the focus right now, the Chilliwack Huskers (on Sunday). Of course, we want to win a championship but there’s a lot of work to be done before that.”

On the subject of championships, Howes said anything less than winning the BCFC title in 2013 would be a “disappointment”, particularly considering the team’s dramatic turnaround this season under the tutelage of Beatty.

If the Sun does plan on challenging for the conference title, it’s safe to say Howes will need to play a vital role.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver has been an offensive force for the Sun this season, leading the BCFC in receptions with 45, while piling up 582 yards and scoring a team-high eight touchdowns.

Over the years, Sun receivers coach Tony Lindsay has watched Howes develop into a seasoned veteran and a valuable offensive commodity.

“He’s pretty much become our go-to guy in the passing game. Technically his route running is excellent, he’s intelligent and he’s almost always in the right spot on the field,” said Lindsay. “He’s grown tremendously over the years, from a boy into a really nice young man.”

And while Howes isn’t the loudest or most talkative teammate, Lindsay said the Winnipeg product has also evolved into an important leader on a young Sun team.

“A lot of the younger guys on offense look up to him, even guys in other positions,” said Lindsay. “The receivers all seem to gravitate to him, too. He’s not a big voice or boisterous, he mainly leads by his actions. Tommy’s a quiet leader who gets his job done and sets a great example.”

With two games left in the regular season, the Sun has not only sewed up a playoff spot but will also host at least one playoff game at the Apple Bowl.

So with two lesser opponents yet to come—Chilliwack and Kamloops—what do Howes and the Sun want to accomplish prior to the start of post-season ?

“We just want to go out there and leave no doubt about what kind of team we are,” Howes said. “We want to bring our A games, be crisp and do everything we need to do to be ready for the playoffs.”

One of seven 22-year-old players graduating from the program at season’s end Howes, not surprisingly, wants to make the most of his final weeks in a Sun uniform.

And while he’s hesitant to reminisce much while his career is still in progress, the sure-handed receiver concedes his years in Sun colours have been rewarding, to say the least.

“It’s meant so much to me to be with the Sun for five years, both on and off the field,” Howes added. “They’ve been very generous to me with the scholarship program, and I’ve gotten to know so many people over the years. I came here as a boy and I’ll be leaving a man, and I’m grateful to the organization.”

Howes and the Sun (6-2) will take on the Huskers (2-5-1) this Sunday at the Apple Bowl in a 2 p.m. kickoff.

(Photo provided by Greystoke Photography)

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