CJFL Offseason Forecast: Hoping lightning can strike in Regina again

The Regina Thunder enter 2015 just two years removed from their first National Championship back in 2013.  With the Canadian Bowl hosted again in the PFC, the Thunder are hoping lightning can strike twice.

Coming off a 5-2-1 record in 2014 and a home semi-final loss the Thunder will have a number of weapons on offence returning and are hoping to keep an extremely stingy defence.

What’s Changing?

The Thunder will look very familiar on the sidelines this upcoming season as Scott Macaulay returns to lead the troops for the third straight year.  The most notable change on the coaching staff is the defensive coordinator spot as David Jackson returns from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and inherits a defence that allowed a PFC low 159 points (tied with Saskatoon).  Jackson was the Thunder special teams coach on the Canadian Bowl winning team in 2013.

One other positive change for the Thunder comes in the Board Directors as they have added personal to assist with organizing team events and sales.

Graduating Players:

* WR Brady Keller: One of the biggest strengths on offence last season for the Thunder was at the receivers position.  Following 2014, it gets a bit thinner after the fifth year Keller graduates.  The Regina native, who leaves with a Canadian Bowl ring, was a leader on and off the field, helping mold the younger receivers.

* DB Chris Tunnicliffe: The biggest loss on the defensive side of the ball is the graduation of All-Canadian Tunnicliffe.  In 2014 the Regina native collected 16 tackles and five assists, blocked a kick, compiled five knockdowns, three interceptions and returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown.

What They Need:

The Thunder don’t have many major holes to fill in 2015, however depth has been a key focus.  Last year injuries played a major role in the Thunder’s early exit in the playoffs and Coach Macaulay doesn’t want to see a repeat.  A focus in finding depth at quarterback, running back and linebackers are at the top of the wish list.

Counting On:

Experience should really help the Thunder in 2015.  Quarterback Jaeden Marwick enters his second full season as the starter and third year in the CJFL.  Last year the Regina native was banged up but still completed 116 passes for 1,448 yards and seven touchdowns.  He finished with a Conference high 63.4% completion percentage, but did have 11 interceptions and a 75.8% passer rating.

Running back Colton Klassen will need to have a big season to help take pressure of Marwick and the passing game.  Now entering his second season the Saskatoon native is coming off 52 carries for 294 yards and three majors in 2014.

Last season was a breakout year for receiver Preston Bews, named the PFC’s Most Valuable Player.  He collected 45 catches for 636 yards and five majors with an average reception of 14.1 yards.  He’ll be asked to do even more in 2015.

The Thunder will open Spring Camp May 1-3 in Regina.

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