Layne Hull very nearly didn’t come back to Kelowna for his final year of junior football.
The Okanagan Sun are understandably thrilled that the 22-year-old linebacker had a change of heart.
Hull was named Saturday as the B.C. Football Conference’s outstanding defensive player and top linebacker for 2016.
“It’s a great honour,” said Hull, who was also named the Sun’s MVP last week. “If it wasn’t for my teammates and coaches, this wouldn’t have happened. We’ve got a lot of depth on defence and there are always guys pushing you to get better.”
The Willowbrook, SK native put up some solid and consistent numbers throughout the regular season, leading the Sun with 93 total defensive points. Included were 30 tackles, three quarterback sacks, three batted balls, one fumble recovery and one interception.
After being named the top defensive player in last year’s Canadian Bowl in Saskatoon, Hull signed on with the University of Regina Rams with the intention of playing in the CIS in 2016.
But between coming up short in the last November’s final against the Hilltops and taking one more year to hone is game, Hull decided Kelowna was the best fit in 2016.
“I had some unfinished business,” he said. “Losing the national final, it left a bad taste, I wanted to prove to myself and my teammates that we can win a national championship.
“I also felt like I wasn’t quite ready for school,” Hull added. “I wanted to mature a little bit more and thought this was a good place for one more year. I don’t have any regrets.”
Neither does the Sun or defensive coordinator Nathan Mollard who have watched Hull improve steadily over this four-year career.
“He’s obviously a great kid, a vocal leader who has really developed into his role over time,” Mollard said. “He’s athletically gifted, he hits hard and he’s a real sideline-to-sideline type of linebacker who has a good head for the game.”
“He’s done well here, CIS schools call lots about him, so he’s going to have his pick of the litter next season,” Mollard added.
Hull and the Sun have their sights set on a second straight trip to the Canadian Bowl final.
First, they’ll have to get past the Westshore Rebels in the BCFC championship game next weekend.
The Sun and Rebels meet in the Cullen Cup final this Saturday, 4 p.m. at Westhills Stadium in Victoria.