Michele Vecchio does more than just tolerate the grit, grime and sweat that comes with being an offensive lineman—he thrives on it.
The 21-year-old Kelowna native’s penchant for trench warfare just might explain why the Okanagan Sun veteran is regarded as one of the elite O-linemen in all of Canadian junior football.
“I love being in the trenches,” said Vecchio, who is entering is fourth and final season with the Sun. “I like how hard it is, it’s not an easy sport to play…you’ve gotta work for everything you get.
“I feel like I’m a hard-nosed, aggressive player who just likes being in the middle of things.”
At 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, Vecchio has been a dominant force along the Sun’s offensive line since the early days of his junior career, both at the tackle and guard positions.
The BCFC’s outstanding offensive lineman in 2014 and an all-Canadian in both 2014 and 2015, Vecchio’s value to the Sun extends well beyond his work on the football field, according new head coach Ben Macauley.
“He’s a leader for us both on and off the field,” Macauley said of Vecchio, a graduate of the Rutland Voodoos’ program. “Even throughout the recruiting season, he helps show players around, he has a vested interest in improving the team.
“Michele’s a leader and captain, an all-Canadian guy we’re going to depend on,” added. “Of course he’s an exceptional player, but he’s also a high quality character who is really the face of this team.”
With Vecchio leading way and the addition of CFL draft pick and former SFU star Quinn Horton, Macauley expects the Sun offensive line to be stabilizing force as the club sets out to defend its B.C. Football Conference title.
And with Jeremy Williams, Matthew Robinson and Liam Hamlyn rounding out the starting five, Vecchio shares Macauley’s expectations.
“I feel really good about our group,” said Vecchio. “There’s no reason we can’t be the best O-line the country.”
Despite the loss of no fewer than 10 starters from last year’s team and more than 30 new faces on the roster, Vecchio is also confident the Sun has both the talent and coaching staff to stage a repeat performance in 2016.
“We lost some key guys, but we’re still so deep that it’s ‘next man up’, guys are just stepping up to do the job,” Vecchio said. “With the coaching staff we have this year, it feels like everyone is more confident and happy with where we’re at. I think we’re going to have a great season.”
Vecchio’s abilities have also impressed the B.C. Lions who have invited the Rutland Voodoos product to their rookie camp for each of the last two seasons.
And while Vecchio hopes a CFL and/or CIS career await in his future, he has every intention of enjoying his final season in Sun colours to the fullest.
“I’m excited and ready, I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a football season,” he said. “This is my last year here and I want to make the most of it.”
Vecchio and the Sun will open the 2016 BCFC regular season this Saturday night in Chilliwack against the Valley Huskers.