#CFCOVFL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: JV Myers Riders making final preparations for Hawkeyes

It is finally playoff time for junior varsity Ottawa Myers Riders.

After completing a perfect season, the Myers Riders (8-0) have had a week off to prepare for the Oshawa Hawkeyes, who went 5-3 during the regular season. Myers Riders Head Coach Matt Kassner says it is important for his team to put their stellar record behind them and focus on the task at hand.

“We are happy with an 8-0 season, but at the end of the day, our goal is a championship,” Kassner said, adding the Myers Riders have lost in the championship game for two consecutive years.

Going into their tilt with the Hawkeyes, the Myers Riders have the statistical advantage. Throughout the season, the Myers Riders averaged a dominant scoreline of 43-16, whereas the Hawkeyes averaged a slimmer 33-24 mark.

Still, when the two teams clashed earlier this season, the Myers Riders only won 42-27, which means the Hawkeyes had an above average performance.

Going into the game, Kassner says it is crucial not to underestimate the Hawkeyes. The Myers Riders have worked hard in the last week to tinker with their game plan.

“The one thing we want to change is our passing game,” Kassner said prior to the bye week. “We have had a great running game, but we want to get some balance going into the playoffs.”

Jean Paul Cimankinda

The Myers Riders’ offensive plan has hinged around the dominance of running back Jean-Paul Cimankinda, who has rushed for 2127 yards and 29 touchdowns.

However, Kassner says quarterback Brayden Lassenba has improved throughout the season to the point where the team can start to confidently use their passing game.

“He is going to be a big part of our success moving forward,” Kassner says

Throughout the season, the Hawkeyes had an equally predictable offensive plan, though theirs focused on quarterback David Maecker. Maecker completed 58 per cent of his passes this season, which led to 2075 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. 

On the defensive end, both teams have been relatively strong, which came as a surprise to Kassner.

“It was kind of a concern going into the season, but coming out of the regular season I think we proved ourselves defensively,” Kassner said. “It is now one of our stronger aspects.”

AJ Oickle

Linebacker AJ Oickle has been the stabilizing force behind the Myers Riders’ defence, leading the team in solo tackles and sacks. Kassner says Oickle’s leadership has really stood out.

“I think everyone else brings up their level of play to match what he is doing,” Kassner says.

The Hawkeyes are led by defensive back Liam Potter, who recorded four interceptions during the regular season. Fellow defensive back Moshen Al-Tamimi has also recorder four interceptions, which further strikes fear into the hearts of opposing quarterbacks.

Overall, Kassner says his team will come prepared because of how hungry they are for a championship.

“I think our players really want it this year,” Kassner said. “Some guys lost last year, so that determination and grit is really showing up for us this year.”

The junior varsity Oshawa Hawkeyes visit the Ottawa Myers Riders at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 2 at Beckwith Sports Park.

 

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