Valley Huskers go back to Manitoba Bisons pipeline for receiver recruit

The junior football club has secured a commitment from Oak Park high grad Ethan Diakow.

The Valley Huskers are going back to Manitoba, landing a playmaker for the offence.

Ethan Diakow has committed to the B.C. Football Conference squad for the 2019 season.

A Winnipeg native, Diakow has been at the University of Manitoba the past four years.

The five-foot-nine and 180 pound receiver dressed for five Canada West games, producing three catches for 53 yards.

In 2017 he dressed for three games and had six catches for 56 yards.

But Husker bench boss Bob Reist is looking beyond Diakow’s recent numbers and believes he can be an impact guy at the junior level.

“He’s a dangerous weapon that should provide for tough matchups for the defence,” the coach said. “He has the unique skill set of a possession receiver as well as a guy who can strike quick.”

Diakow is a graduate of the vaunted Oak Park High School Raiders, where he played quarterback. He has a long relationship with Husker general manager Blair Atkinson.

His scouting report is reminiscent of Brandon Poulin, who stuffed BCFC stat-sheets last summer as a receiver and return man.

They aren’t clones and Diakow probably won’t be the special teams demon that Poulin was, but Reist said there are similarities.

“They each bring a little bit of a different skillset to the game, but they’re both dependable guys who run good routes, catch the football and can make a lot of guys miss,” Reist said. “Ethan is a very smart and polished guy and I’m jacked to get this guy into camp.”

The Manitoba pipeline was huge for the Huskers last season. Their top four skill position players on offence had ties to the province — quarterback Julian Wytink and receivers Poulin, Anthony Dyck and Remis Tshiovo — so it makes sense Reist and Atkinson would go back to that well as often as possible.

But Reist said they Huskers aren’t going to be exclusively Manitoba built.

“We’re continuing to expand our recruiting areas and we’ve got a lot of kids coming in from Alberta and Saskatchewan this year,” he said. “There are some parts of Alberta where we feel we’ve really hit a gold mine. But we’re also going to take the (Manitoba) guys who are there, right?”

Reist isn’t allowed to announce all the players he’s recruited until June 1, and he has yet to announce a player at the most important spot on the field.

The Huskers had the best QB in franchise history leading their stunning turnaround in 2018, and Wytinck’s cleats will be hard to fill.

Reist doesn’t expect a pivot of that calibre to fall into their lap again, but he’s confident in the group of signal callers who have committed.

“We’re going to have some serious competition at that spot for sure,” he said. “We’ve got four or five kids who we think can come in, take the reigns and be very successful in this league.

“We’ve been very up front with them in the recruiting process so they all know where they’re at, and someone’s going to take it. And we’ve put in some weapons that’ll take the pressure off them to make every single play.”

Husker spring camp runs May 31 to June 1.

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