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Rifles Host Labour Day Classic vs Regina

THE CITY’S OWN VERSION of the ‘Labour Day Classic’ will take place Saturday night at Maple Grove Park. In a tilt between the rival football cities of Winnipeg and Regina, the Winnipeg Rifles host the Regina Thunder at 7 p.m. in Canadian Junior Football League action.

“This will be undoubtedly the most physical game we’ll play all year,” said Winnipeg head coach Geordie Wilson. “It’s our Labour Day Classic, and it’ll be smash-mouth old-school football.”

St. Vital Mustangs Field at Maple Grove Park is expected to capture an electric atmosphere for a prairie rivalry bout between Canada’s No. 7 and No. 8-ranked junior football programs.

“This is a very important game. We need the win going into our bye,” said Rifles quarterback Riley Naujoks, who had three touchdowns in Winnipeg’s 47-8 win in Calgary on Sunday. “We’ll never settle, but we want to get to 2-1 on the season.”

The grill will be fired up with full concessions, and beer and cocktails are available. Tickets are $15 for adults, $7.50 for youth, while all Manitoba Minor Football players are free in their jerseys

— RiflesFootball.com

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Rifles’ Expectations Reside in QB Naujoks

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.

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Kickoff in Winnipeg: 2019 Season Begins

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.

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Darrin Bauming, Rifles communications manager: 204-299-9903, mrbauming@gmail.com

Laurie Hoel, Rifles general manager: 204-793-2411, riflesmanager@gmail.com

Twitter / Facebook / Instagram…  @RiflesFootball.com

Darrin Bauming interviews players

RIFLESFOOTBALL.COM CATCHES UP with three Winnipeg Rifles coming out of being embedded in Winnipeg Blue Bombers training camp, where they also suited up and played in a 20-3 win over the Edmonton Eskimos. Darrin Bauming speaks with Rifles RB Brandon Urciuoli, LB Cole Sneesby, and DB Troy Wilson at IG Field in Winnipeg.

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2019 National Signing Day

29 OUTSTANDING YOUNG MEN officially joined the Winnipeg Rifles at 2019 National Signing Day at IG Field. Rifles head coach Geordie Wilson, Rifles president Dale Driedger, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers general manager Kyle Walters were on hand to welcome our newest members.

Rifles begin pro football journey with Blue Bombers

As has become the norm annually, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have once again invited a handful of outstanding Winnipeg Rifles players to participate in rookie and main training camp beginning Wednesday, May 15 in Winnipeg.

Linebacker Cole Sneesby, tailback Brandon Urciuoli, and defensive back Troy Wilson will be fully embedded in both on-field and off-field activities alongside current CFL professionals throughout the month of May and into June, with the opportunity to suit up in the Blue Bombers’ home preseason game on Friday, May 31 vs the Edmonton Eskimos.

Stay tuned to the Winnipeg Rifles’ social media feeds for the latest as these outstanding men begin their pro football journey. For media or other inquiries please contact Darrin Bauming, Rifles communications manager, 204-299-9903, mrbauming@gmail.com.

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Rifles Begin Pro Football Journey With Blue Bombers

As has become the norm annually, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have once again invited a handful of outstanding Winnipeg Rifles players to participate in rookie and main training camp beginning Wednesday, 15 May 2019 in Winnipeg. Linebacker Cole Sneesby, tailback Brandon Urciuoli, and defensive back Troy Wilson will be fully embedded in both on-field and off-field activities alongside current CFL professionals throughout the month of May and into June, with the opportunity to suit up in the Blue Bombers’ home preseason game on Friday, May 31 vs the Edmonton Eskimos. Stay tuned to the Winnipeg Rifles’ social media feeds for the latest as these outstanding men begin their pro football journey. For media or other inquiries please contact Darrin Bauming, Rifles communications manager, 204-299-9903, mrbauming@gmail.com.

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5Qs: Spring Camp 2019

With initial on-field activities wrapping up for the spring ahead of the Rifles’ preseason Canada-U.S.A. tune-up, head coach Geordie Wilson sat down with Darrin Bauming of RiflesFootball.com to answer five pressing questions coming out of spring camp.

Q: Coach, what is the M.O. — not Mike O’Shea… mission objective — of the Rifles’ spring camp?

A: We want to identify, ultimately, our 80-man roster. That’s the first goal. Secondly, we want to get a better look at the rookies, and then set the table for our main camp beginning July 29 so we can hit the ground running.

Q: Speaking of running, in watching spring camp it sure appears like your team can do just that, even with it being so early in the year. In your eyes, coach, what are some of the on-field strengths of the Rifles through the early going?

A: Right now I would say, for our offence, it would definitely be our offensive line. We’re deep and talented there. And I would say on defence, probably, we’re quite athletic at linebacker and defensive end. Much like watching the Saskatoon Hilltops the last few years, it’s been their ends and linebackers who’ve been really athletic and can run. We’ve got a group of players now who can run — they can all run — and they’re long and they’re athletic. Those would probably be the two big groups as far as our strengths on each side of the ball.

Q: First impressions are one thing… Being impressed is another. What’s impressed you the most of your group so far?

A: I’ll say this; I am not saying we’re going to have an All-Canadian receiver or an All-Canadian offensive lineman or whatever. But this is the best team that we’ve ever had from top to bottom — we don’t have any positional weaknesses. It’s just like, there’s no group that stands out at all in a worrisome way. The other thing is, for the first time ever, there’s literally severe competition at all of the position groups. You can just see it.

Q: What does that “severe competition” look like?

A: Put it this way. We’re looking at our offensive line group — and I’ll say this right now, there’s only five starting spots — there’s nine guys we could start. I would be completely comfortable starting any of those nine guys. In our receiver group, we have a dozen to 15 receivers in camp, and say we’re in a five-R set, of those five starters, we’re probably comfortable putting eight or nine of them on the field, no problem. Our two tailbacks, I mean, they’re like 1-A and 1-B. Quarterback, well, clearly Riley Naujoks is our starter, but there is some push behind him which is great to see. There’s a lot of potential there. On the D-line, there eight or nine guys we could easily put on the field. Linebackers, like I’ve said, there’s six of them who are strong. At DB, we have five starters, and then three or four behind them we’ve very comfortable with.


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Supporting junior football

A football club competing in a national league requires significant revenue to operate effectively and field a competitive team. Funding a team and ensuring its financial security and viability is made particularly challenging when the football club is run by a dedicated group of volunteers. Sponsorship from local business, ticket sales and community support are vital for the success of our team. Your support and commitment to the Winnipeg Rifles will benefit the community and Manitoba amateur sports, and help us build a junior football legacy in our province.