After taking several big steps in the 2021 season including a first place spot in the Prairie Football Conference (PFC) regular season standings, the Regina Thunder are hoping to take the next step in 2022.
Training camp is just around the corner, as Head Coach of the Thunder Scott MacAulay joined the SportsCage with Michael Ball on Tuesday.
It will be a physical demanding start to the season for the Thunder, as the team will be practicing nine times within the first seven days before taking a break according to MacAulay.
Looking ahead to the 2022 campaign, MacAulay feels the biggest strength of the team is the veteran experience returning to the squad. He noted that nearly all of the starters from the offence last season are set to return.
One of the players who MacAuley is looking forward to having back is running back Ryland Leichart. Last season Leichart rushed for 498 yards and averaged 5.79 yards. The Thunder Head Coach is expecting for Leichart to continue the success that he experienced last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, the secondary should be a strong point for the team with the majority of the unit returning from last season.
The linebacker position is the position they lost the most players due to graduation. MacAulay says one of the players who can step to fill the void is Kenten Effa.
“He is one of the smartest football players I’ve had the chance to work with and now is his chance to start , as much as we lost some key guys there, I think we got some guys that are going to be ready to pick up where they left off.”
Another strong part of the team is the strong leg of Erik Maximuik. The 5th year veteran is returning for his final season with the Thunder, but MacAulay believes the kicker has the ability to kick in the CFL and is hoping some team will give him the opportunity.
One date that is circled on the calendar for MacAuley is September 17. That day is apart of Football in Saskatchewan weekend which will include the Thunder meeting their arch rivals, the Saskatoon Hilltops. Playing the Hilltops is a event in itself, the Thunder Head Coach explained.
Last season, MacAulay the team had a motto of leaving a legacy. He noted for this upcoming the team is looking to build off that, with the current team believing it’s all about one team, one mission, striving for the ultimate goal.
The Thunder begin their season on Sunday, August 14, when they host the Edmonton Huskies at Leibel Field.