Saturday, June 10th, 2017, marked a historic day for the Regina Riot, as the team took home their second WWCFL Championship. The championship game took place in Saskatoon, where the Prairie Conference Champion Riot went head-to-head with undefeated Western Conference Champion Calgary Rage.
It was another cold, damp game for the Riot, something they ran into on the majority of their road trips this season. Despite the weather, the team was able to jump to an early lead with when Jennilea Coppola caught a touchdown score from Aimee Kowalski. The Riot never looked back, taking a 36-0 lead into the second quarter. The final score of the game was 53-0.
“We are extremely proud of our team,” said Head Coach Olivier Eddie after the game. “We knew from day one that we had a group capable of accomplishing big things.”
There were some big numbers to come out of the game. Veteran Quarterback Aimee Kowalski threw for four touchdowns, two of which went to the rookie Coppola. It was also a big night for the Riot defense, who added Calgary to the list of teams that they shut out this season. For those wondering, that list includes every single team that the Riot played in 2017.
However, it was second year defensive back and kick returner Payton Kuster who had the biggest night of all. Kuster scored two punt return touchdowns and also caught two interceptions, which was enough for her to be named as the Riot’s championship MVP.
This was the team’s second league championship in the past three seasons, and as such Coach Eddie recognizes that this win was built not only on the hard work of thisyear, but on the foundation of past success as well.
“We have a phrase that we’ve used this season, ‘Hard Work Wins’” explained Eddie. “We’ve represented this through our Hard Work Wins Helmet, an award we hand out to a player who has gone above and beyond the call of duty each week. This week we had all of our five year veterans sign the helmet, as a symbol of the hard work of those who helped build this program seven years ago. We want to salute them as well, as they were a big part of what we accomplished this year.”
One of those veteran players was Claire Dore, a wide receiver who was on the original Regina Riot roster in 2011. Claire had announced before the game that this would be her last, as she plans to hang up her cleats this offseason.
“There isn’t much that makes me happier than seeing Claire end her career with a WWCFL Championship,” said the rookie Head Coach. “She’s been instrumental to our team’s success. She deserves to go out this way.”
As part of a pre-game ritual, Dore “passed the torch” to Payton Kuster and Hope Jordens, who followed behind the veteran with the team’s two flags as Dore lead the Riot onto the field before kickoff. Based on Kuster’s performance in the game, the Riot will remain in good hands for years to come.
The Regina Riot will begin their defense of the championship when the 2018 WWCFL season kicks off next spring.