Edmonton Huskies Update With Head Coach Jeff Tobert

Twas the week before Santa Claus arrived that the Edmonton Huskies Football Club announced their former linebackers’ coach and Defensive Coordinator since 2017 Jeff Tobert was being promoted to Head Coach. On January 26th, the Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) announced their 2021 schedule tentatively etching Sunday August 8th as Tobert’s head coaching debut.
The CJFL, like so many leagues, did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic which led me to have a few questions about roster construction for the upcoming season. Who better to ask than the new Huskies head coach.
  • Does the roster you inherited from former Coach MacLean rollover from the 2020 to 2021? 
Simply put yes. Each year players sign a letter (basically registration) that attachs them to a team for 18 months. Reason for that is to prevent roster flipping.
There is always chance of players jumping to U-Sport (example U of A). Sure we are here to win football games but more importantly we are here to develop these young athletes into better people and players. We are all proud that the U of A Golden Bears roster is littered with Huskies.
Coach Tobert specifically mentioned Shaydon Philip who recently signed with the Calgary Stampeders. I will use Philip’s quote from the Edmonton Sun article to shine a light on Tobert’s statement about the Huskies helping athletes grow as people:

“I had gotten into some trouble just being a stupid, young kid…And when that happened — sports was my world; I did my school, I had my friends, but sports was my No. 1, my safe zone — I honestly didn’t know, I thought I was going to quit football. I was just going to get my degree and move on.

But the (Edmonton) Huskies convinced me to come play (junior), and that was a huge turning point in my life. I was so grateful for everyone at the Huskies and what they did for me, because I was ready to quit and I had so much fun that year.”

  • Do the senior year players get to return? 
Back in September the CJFL, a league where players are aged 17-22, made the following announcement:
“..the age restriction has been increased from 22 to 23 years old for the 2021 season due to the 2020 campaign being cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Player names inserted into brackets for examples were picked by me and not specifically mentioned by Coach Tobert:
Simply explained, our players born in 1997 (examples receivers Sam Clayton, Ronnie Oling) are aged out. 1998 born players (examples QB Declan O’Flaherty, RB Brandt Burzuk) get to play in 2021. 1999 born players (examples RB Alex Gayle, D Tadi Siwira) get to play in 21 and 22. By the end of 2022 all our 98 and 99 guys will be finished their junior eligibility.
  • Talk about the new home of the Huskies, the JP Bowl.
I remember going to EE games at Clarke Stadium. I remember playing U of A games there from time to time. FC Edmonton is taking more control over Clarke.
Johnny Bright Park is the official name of the “JP Bowl” located next to Jasper Place High School. Newly renovated, they basically tore down the old stands and grandstand and refurbished it to a Prairie Football Conference level. I have not yet seen the finished product but am excited.
  • Are you at liberty to speak about the returning players?
By in large most of eligible players stand to return but there’s always roster attrition between January and July. Most of our senior players are planning to come back but you never know until you know.
As a group on special teams we have lots of guys that have talent and a passion to play the 1/3 of the game that is special teams.
Our new DC is Branden Modin. He’s a fine coach and a good teacher of the game. Looking forward to seeing what he can do with the group that we have.
I’m happy with the roster as a group, we just need to get to work.
If 2020 played out, we felt we had a team that could have challenged the Saskatoon Hilltops. We gave them two real good games in 2019 but ultimately the scoreboard says we lost. We just got to keep putting in the work. Very proud of my guys. 
Thank you Coach Tobert for your time. The obvious statement here is I hope the timelines the CJFL has tentatively planned for 2021 all come to fruition.

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