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Valley Huskers drop season opener to Okanagan Sun

In their first BC Football Conference action since 2019, the junior team fell 39-8 at home

Chilliwack’s Valley Huskers are 0-1 to start the 2021 BC Football Conference (BCFC) season after a 39-8 loss to the Okanagan Sun.

The Huskers hosted the BCFC powerhouse at Exhibition Stadium Saturday (Sept. 4), playing their first game since the fall of 2019.

Huskers bench boss Bob Reist said it was great to be back in action.

“It was outstanding,” he said. “It’s been a long time, and for most of the kids on our team, the last game they played was in high school. It was fun to be back on the field, but the shine is off now and we have a lot of work to get done at practice this week.”

Sardis secondary grad Josh Janssen started at quarterback and struggled against a tough Okanagan defence. The strong-armed pivot completed 10 of 24 passes for 123 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

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Janssen did have the lone Husker touchdown, with kicker Ethan Homan adding the point-after.

Janssen was sacked four times and Reist called it a learning experience.

“We need to get him settled into a rhythm, and keep in mind that was his first junior football action,” the coach said. “Give credit where credit is due too, Okanagan is a very good team. They are who they area. All in all, I think Josh was okay, with a lot of room to improve, and I think he will this week.”

Payton Lake was the top Husker receiver with two grabs for 47 yards.

Making his first start as the feature tailback, Brandon O’Connor averaged exactly three yards a carry, rolling up 54 yards on 18 totes.

“He ran the ball hard and he’ll continue to be a guy we lean on for doing things they way we need them done, which is full speed all the time,” Reist said.

On the other side of the ball, the Husker defence yielded 446 net yards to the powerful Sun attack.

Mike O’Shea had 116 receiving yards, including a 92 yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Sun quarterback Dominic Britton. He added another major on a 79 yard punt return.

Sun running back Malcolm Miller rolled up 128 yards and a TD on just 12 carries, averaging 10.66 yards every time he touched the ball.

G.W. Graham grad Jaiden Claassen hit the stat sheet in his first BCFC start, recording a quarterback sack.

“For two-and-a-half quarters we were right there with them (the Sun),” said Reist, whose team only trailed 10-0 at halftime before fading late. “The score is the score at the end of the day, but there’s a lot of things on film that show we’re closer than that. We showed our youth across the board and we need to grow up quickly.

“We are returning one starter on offence from 2019. We have 11 new kids in new spots and it will take time. The wake up call and realizing we’re not playing high school football anymore was real, and we’ll learn some hard lessons quickly, but I have a lot of faith in this team and where we’re going to be and I believe we can play with anybody.”

The Huskers are back at home Saturday night (Sept. 11), facing the Kamloops Broncos with a 7 p.m. kickoff at Exhibition Stadium.


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Eric Welsh

About the Author: Eric Welsh

I joined the Chilliwack Progress in 2007, originally hired as a sports reporter.
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