First came the rain and now comes the Thunder.

The Regina Thunder junior football team will host its spring camp this weekend at Mosaic Stadium, beginning tonight and wrapping up with a scrimmage on Sunday afternoon.


Among the 110 athletes who are expected to participate in the three-day camp is LeBoldus senior Isaiah Dobni, who starred at middle linebacker for the Golden Suns this past season in the Regina Intercollegiate Football League.

This weekend has an entirely different feel than what he’s used to, however.

“This isn’t high school anymore,” Dobni said. “This is a higher level of competition for me. The boys are a lot bigger and stronger and everything is going to move a lot faster.

“I’m looking forward to getting out and seeing what it’s all about.”

Dobni, Balfour’s Landon Walter, Riffel’s Tyrel Perala and O’Neill’s Jordan Richter were four rookies who were introduced Thursday at a media gathering at the Thunder clubhouse at Scotty Livingstone Field. The foursome will be in tough this season to crack the Thunder lineup, as head coach Erwin Klempner expects between 40 and 50 players from last year to return to the team for the 2010 PFC season.

But spring camp is as good a time as any to make an early impression on the coaching staff, Klempner hinted.

“If they don’t bite when they’re puppies, you wonder if they ever will bite,” Klempner said. “We want them to know what they’re going to come up against. This is a chance to find out what it’s like to play at the next level. We anticipate a very intense camp.”
Walter agrees. The Redmen’s defensive back, who was selected to the South Senior Bowl squad, expects to have a fight on his hands when it comes to securing a spot in the Thunder secondary.

“You go from a top-notch senior season to being a rookie again,” he said.

“I’ll be looking to do anything to make an early impression so they keep my name in mind. All of the older guys are going to want their positions back, so they won’t be letting up at all. It’s going to be a real battle.”

It’s a battle that Klempner appreciates and one that he was hoping for.

“This is what happens when you have success and when you have a great feeder system like we do with our high school and minor football programs,” he said. “We’re also fortunate to have a lot of our guys stick around and commit to the program.

“When you have both of those things, it creates a very intense situation when it comes to jobs.”

The Thunder qualified for the PFC playoffs in 2009 after finishing the regular season with a 5-3 record. The Thunder dropped a 30-24 decision to the first-place Saskatoon Hilltops in a semifinal game at Gordie Howe Bowl.

Klempner hopes to improve on last year’s win total and host a playoff game this season. There’s also added incentive this season, as the the PFC will play host to the Canadian Junior Football League national championship game.

“We need to win our conference first before we start thinking about that,” he said.

Thunder practice is slated for 7 p.m. tonight. Saturday practice times are scheduled for 9:30 a.m., and 2:30 p.m. Sunday’s scrimmage is set for 2:30 p.m., following a 9:30 a.m. practice. All practices will be at Mosaic Stadium and will be open to the public.

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post


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