It was a disappointing year for the Winnipeg Rifles as a team, as they missed making the playoffs in the final game of the season. Individually, though, a number of Rifles excelled in 2013.
The Prairie Football Conference recently announced its 2013 season major award winners and all-stars, a list that includes seven Rifles, three of them former North Winnipeg Nomads.
Rifles quarterback Ryan Marsch shares the PFC’s most valuableplayer award with Regina Thunder QB Asher Hastings. Marsch made 136 completions for 2,588 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Wide receiver and Maples boy Matt LaRiviere was named to the all-star team for his 32 catches, 578 yards and six TDs.
Rifles receiver Kurt Goodrich — former team captain of the West Kildonan Wolverines — was named the league’s most outstanding receiver, recording 41 catches, 985 receiving yards and nine touchdowns over the eight-game season.
"I’m a speed type of guy, a big playmaker. I set the record this year for the most 200-yard games," said Goodrich, who put up four games with at least 200 yards receiving in 2013, a Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) record.
The 20-year-old slotback still has another year of CJFL eligibility, so there’s a good chance he’ll be suiting up for the Rifles next year, although he said he will explore his options.
Marsch and LaRiviere, though, won’t be eligible to play for the Rifles next season. LaRiviere, 22, said he’s looking to go to a CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) team, as he thinks he has the right tools for the job.
"I’m six-foot-four and I think I’ve got a pretty good vertical, so my best attribute is going up for the ball. Also, I’m pretty quick for being a big guy," he said.
LaRiviere said his favourite player is Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson because "it doesn’t matter if he’s double-teamed or triple-teamed, he’s going to go up and catch the ball."
LaRiviere said he has a similar level of determination.
"When the ball is in the air, if I’m not getting it, the DB (defensive back) isn’t getting it either," he said.
First-year Rifles head coach Ryan Karhut, a former CFL player and captain of the U of M Bisons 2007 Vanier Cup-winning team, saidall three players provided great leadership for the Rifles this season.
"Kurt works his butt off on and off the field," Karhut said. "I don’t think anybody out-trains that guy in the off-season.
"I wasn’t sure what to expect with Matt. He obviously has a crazy amount of talent and ability but he was also a very positive guy in the locker room and a good influence on our guys in practice.
"During games, Ryan’s presence in the huddle was tremendous. Of course he has great physical ability. He can throw the most accurate deep ball that I’ve ever seen at the junior level, which helped out Goodrich and Matt quite a bit."