May 7th, 2017 Langford, BC (ISN) – The Westshore Rebels Football organization opened their home turf Friday to Junior football invitees from across Canada, all hoping to crack a spot on the defending BCFC Cullen Cup Championship team as a weekend-long spring selection camp came to a close Sunday afternoon at Westhills Stadium.
Sixty-five players from coast to coast, some leaving their snowy confines to bask in Victoria’s timely but sometimes unpredictable weather, descended on Westhills Stadium in an intense, three day evaluation hoping to leave a lasting impression of Westshore Rebels first year Head Coach Charly Cardilicchia, Assistant HC Shane Beatty and his coaching staff.
Cardilicchia, not only born and raised in Victoria, comes full circle into an organization that his father, John Cardilicchia, started coaching in 1998 when the team changed its name from the Vancouver Island Sharks to the Victoria Rebels. Still on the coaching staff, the senior Cardilicchia can now look to his son at the helm of a team that can truly boast about family cohesiveness. Head Coach Cardilicchia also brings a special Rebels pedigree to the team that no one can match. As team member of the original Victoria Rebels team, Cardilicchia isn’t shy to let prospects know his special place in Rebels history as the Rebels player to score the first TD under the new moniker.
Cardilicchia, summoning some of the brightest and best players, travelled the country earlier in this year in a quest to find the right mix to fill the void left by the departure of some last year’s players that have continued on to university programs across the nation now as Rebels alumni.
“We are coming off of a winning season and are expected to do well. I am really excited about some of our new prospects. We have had players move up to play in the CIS and there are big shoes to fill. I have spent a lot of time reviewing player footage, and visiting cities across Canada, to find the right fit for our team. I am excited to see who brings there “A” game. You never know who is going to surprise you,” said Coach Cardillicchia of his countrywide recruitment drive.
Friday night’s warm up, led to an intense, all day drills and skills sessions as players would receive coaching not only by Rebels staff, but also by four current CFL and Rebel Alumni in attendance to offer their advice and experience. Players such Quinn Van Gylswyck, and Greg Morris of the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, and Aaron Crawford of the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Dexter Janke of the Calgary Stampeders, although not a Rebels alumni, but off-seasons in Victoria, also took to the field to assist.
When asked about the inspiration that is brought to the Rebel’s organization and to those prospects in attendance, Cardilicchia would comment, “ It’s fantastic! Seeing them come back. Being attached to the program, and being able to interact with them (the players) on a personal level, to tell them how important the Rebels program was in their lives. It’s pretty neat.”
From hoots, hollers, and the bravado that goes along with player confidence, to those sounds Sunday morning of expletives about aching muscles, athletic tape being applied roll after roll, and outcry’s for ice baths to rejuvenate tired bodies, it was evident that prospects left most if not all their effort on the field the day prior.
Sunday’s action, was exactly that – “action”, and it wasn’t too long into the morning before the coaching staff offered up what the doctor ordered, full gear, full contact scrimmages that were nothing less than a final, hard-hitting, spirited, last chance to show the Rebel’s coaching staff what contribution each player could make to the team in the coming season.
Although not every prospect is guaranteed to take away a Rebels roster spot, they will certainly take away the experience and added knowledge instilled in them by the camp, the fellow players, and coaches present.
Just when we thought the coaching staff had unveiled their complete prospects lineup for all to see this weekend, ISN learned in a Sunday morning discussion with HC Cardilicchia that he is yet to show all his player cards. Yet to come are ten additional, high-calibre players to arrive in Victoria and Westhills Stadium that have already committed to the Rebels program in an effort to further bolster what looks to be an already impressive squad.
Short of any predictions, Cardilicchia liked what he saw on the field this weekend. “ I’m quite excited with the talent we have here this weekend. We have the nucleus, the base for something special. To give these players an opportunity to come out here and pursue their passion in an environment like this is actually bigger than the game. We’re going to be successful. Even bigger that the talent on the field this team will have astonishing character, unmatched.“
With signing day only three weeks away, Rebels fans won’t have long to wait to catch a glimpse of what the 2017 Rebels football team will look like, however game-day anticipation is sure to build as the Rebels will play their first three games away, putting their home opener at Westhills Stadium on August 19th versus the Langley Rams.