HEAD COACH GEORDIE WILSON shares with Darrin Bauming of RiflesFootball.com where he needs his club to improve coming out of Week 1 as the Winnipeg Rifles get set to play in Calgary against the Colts on Sunday.
RIFLESFOOTBALL.COM’s DARRIN BAUMING breaks down Winnipeg’s 34-20 Week 1 loss to the Saskatoon Hilltops with Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson.
DARRIN BAUMING OF RIFLESFOOTBALL.COM catches up with Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson ahead of Week 1 and Winnipeg’s 2019 season opener at home against the Saskatoon Hilltops.
The onset of the 2019 season brings higher than usual expectations for the Winnipeg Rifles — not only because Winnipeg is seen as a legitimate contender to capture a Canadian Junior Football League title, but they are currently touting, arguably, their best top-to-bottom football team in years.
There’s a lot of truth to the age-old football adage; everything starts and finishes at quarterback. Complete football teams always hold strong quarterbacking essential, and the Rifles expect big things from their point-position, with stability, skill, and experience in third-year quarterback Riley Naujoks.
Due to injury in his second junior season, Naujoks started and finished only three games in 2018. This season, the 6-foot 200-pound St. Paul’s High School product is expected to not just bounce back, but be a focal point on one of the country’s junior football powers.
“Physically, he has the ability to be one of the top quarterbacks in the entire CJFL,” said Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson. “All of the tools are there. It’s the mental component — he knows what he’s doing. He needs to be decisive, make quick reads, trust them, and deliver the ball. Because when he does that, he’s good.”
“He throws the ball on time. He has a very strong arm. In our league he can make every throw necessary. We expect him to be upper-echelon and lead our team to a whole pile of wins.”
“Right now I feel so much more comfortable,” said Naujoks after leading Team Black to a 20-19 edge over Team White in the Rifles’ annual inter-squad “Black & White Game” to conclude training camp. “We have so much depth at the receiver position. It’s very comforting to know I’ve worked with these guys for three years and they’ve stuck around and are all-in with you. It’s a nice feeling to know we have strong players out in the receiving corps.”
“We have so much height and size that I trust them to make the catch and go up and get it. We have a couple guys who are almost like a safety blanket.”
The offensive line will make it all happen for Winnipeg, in keeping Naujoks upright and allowing him to operate the offence.
“This O-line, I think this is the best group we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Naujoks. “They’re really strong — the starting five and the guys behind them. It’s nice to feel like we have one of the strongest O-lines this year because I don’t want to be running for my life back there.”
Who Winnipeg hopes will be running wild are the Rifles’ tailbacks. The club flexes a dynamic duo of third-year runners in Brandon Urciuoli, who was embedded in training camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this year, and Mathe Mitayango, whose explosion is evident whenever he touches the ball.
“It takes a little pressure off,” added Naujoks. “Sure, we have a great receiving corps, but we don’t want to be throwing it 40 times a game. It’s nice knowing we have two players who are really talented that, when you give them the ball, they’re going to go make a play with it. Having ‘Urch’ and Mathe back there means so much to me — again, it’s just a comforting experience.”
Another oft-applicable age-old football adage; talent only takes you so far. Dedication, focus, and leadership are qualities the Rifles have worked tirelessly to instil in their culture, throughout the locker room. Naujoks has led the progression here as well.
“He truly committed to offseason training,” added Wilson of his quarterback. “He has assumed a leadership role. The quarterback position always lends itself to leadership, but Riley talks with all the guys and has started showing up and leading by example daily, in the offseason workouts and throughout training camp.
The Rifles hold a Canadian Junior Football League preseason ranking of No. 7 in the nation, and open their 2019 campaign at home on Sunday, August 18 at 1 p.m. against the five-time-defending Canadian Bowl champion Saskatoon Hilltops. More information can be found at RiflesFootball.com or on social media @RiflesFootball.
Rifles Host Defending Champion Hilltops
WHEN: Sunday, August 18, 2019 — 1 p.m. kickoff
WHERE: St. Vital Mustangs Field in Maple Grove Park, 100 Frobisher Rd., Winnipeg, MB
WHAT: Winnipeg Rifles host Saskatoon Hilltops — Canadian Junior Football League
WINNIPEG (May 4, 2019) – Sunday afternoon (August 18) the Rifles kick off the 2019 Prairie Football Conference schedule in the Canadian Junior Football League, as they host the defending Canadian Bowl champion Saskatoon Hilltops in Winnipeg.
The Rifles set forth on their 18th season looking to continue their steady and consistent trajectory of competitive growth under head coach Geordie Wilson, now in his fourth season.
“Our expectation is, this is going to be a big step forward for us this year,” said Wilson. “We firmly believe in our hearts we have an opportunity to be national champions this year.”
The Saskatoon Hilltops pose the ultimate benchmark measure for Winnipeg as the current five-time defending Canadian Bowl champions, and having captured eight of the last nine national titles. The Hilltops, under head coach Tom Sargeant, are commonly referred to as “the New England Patriots or Calgary Stampeders of Canadian Junior Football.”
“If you can hang with them and you can beat them, there’s every reason to believe you can win it all come season’s end,” added Wilson of his club’s opponent on Sunday, August 18.
This season, the Rifles return to Maple Grove Park and St. Vital Mustangs Field for their first three home dates, while IG Field, home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, will be the site of the Rifles’ final 2019 home game on September 29.
Livestream broadcasts of all Winnipeg Rifles and CJFL games are available through a new broadcast partnership with WorldPlay at CJFLTV.com. Veteran TSN Radio broadcasters Chris Walby, Troy Westwood, and Darrin Bauming make up the play-by-play and colour commentary team throughout the Winnipeg Rifles season.
Beer gardens will be open on game day, as well as full concessions and a fired up grill. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for youth, while all Manitoba Minor Football players are free in their jerseys. Season tickets are available at a significantly discounted rate.
Darrin Bauming, Rifles communications manager: 204-299-9903, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Hoel, Rifles general manager: 204-793-2411, email@example.com
Twitter / Facebook / Instagram… @RiflesFootball.com
THE RIFLES FOOTBALL ORGANIZATION strives each year to make a difference in our community.by volunteering and supporting various organizations. In addition to Sam’s Christmas, Inclusion Winnipeg, Winnipeg Pride, we will also be supporting the Canadian Cancer Society this year. The Canadian Cancer Society works to benefit everyone in Manitoba living with cancer. They demonstrate every day that life is bigger than cancer.
Thanks to supporters, last year they were able to provide direct support to 180,758 Manitobans living with cancer and their families. For over 80 years they have led Canada’s research efforts investing more funds into more forms of cancer than any other charity. In Manitoba that has translated into 32 grants and awards worth over $5.3 million over the last 5 years sustaining the life-saving work of 112 researchers and grad students. They have also helped bring 43 different clinical trials to the province and provided $670,000 to help Manitoba cancer patients get access to the latest breakthroughs.
They have also supported community-based support programs to help reduce the stress of cancer. They are best known for Wheels of Hope transportation service, which provides cancer patients in over 150 communities in Manitoba with over 27,000, rides to and from treatment annually. They also support breast cancer patients who need a prosthesis\ after surgery or cancer patients who need wigs having gone through chemotherapy. The Peer Match program pairs people who have experience with cancer with someone who have just been diagnosed. These trained volunteers listen, offer encouragement and share ideas for coping.
They continue to be the most trusted source of cancer information and their web site allows anyone in Manitoba to go to cancer.ca, type in their city or town and find the nearest cancer-related service. The Community Services Locator is a directory of more than 4,000 services to help find emotional support programs, homecare and many other practical services cancer patients need.
With the number of new cancer cases expected to rise by over 40% by 2030 they need your help more than ever.
Please help the Rifles support Canadian Cancer Society. You can do this by a direct donation; at the opening game, or online and by spreading the word about the great work the Canadian Cancer Society does. Together we can continue to show the world that Manitoba is bigger than cancer.
RIFLESFOOTBALL.COM’s DARRIN BAUMING breaks down a scorchingly hot and humid Week 1 of Winnipeg Rifles training camp with head coach Geordie Wilson. The Rifles begin their regular season August 18 at home against the defending champion Saskatoon Hilltops.