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Regina Rage Ready To Emerge As Class Of The 2013 LFL Canada Season

By Mark Staffieri

While only four members of the inaugural Regina Rage roster are back for the 2013 LFL Canada campaign, there is a strong energy that is surrounding the franchise. With former Saskatchewan Roughriders star Brent Hawkins leading the way as head coach, the very dedicated Regina fan base is excited at the possibilities.

Another source of happiness for the fans is that Hawkins’ spouse Andrea Cecchini (the Rage’s sacks leader in 2012) will be returning to the green and white. One of the team captains in 2012, Cecchini will be joined by returning players Kylie Rossler, Andrea Stengler and Courtney Ulrich.

As the league will not have the luxury of LFL US stars on their rosters this season, every team is impacted. The Rage will be looking for homegrown talent to replace the likes of the likes of Tessa Barrera (who also served as defensive coordinator), Carmen Bourseau, Cydney Froehlich, Whitney Meierotto and starting quarterback Nikki Johnson.

Without the likes of an LFL superstar like Johnson (who led the Rage in rushing and passing), finding a new quarterback was a key concern in the off-season. While Johnson acknowledges the impact Johnson had, he looks at the quarterback situation with optimism.

“Our team takes a huge loss losing such a talented player and leader as Nikki Johnson. When myself and assistant coach Pugh were running our tryouts/camps; that was the first thing we felt needed to be addressed.

After evaluating all of the women, we were fortunate enough to have at least three athletes that could play quarterback for us (Kyla Krenbrink, Nicole Belanger and Savannah Finkeldey). All three of which have great arm strength and good athleticism.”

Heading into the September 14 season opener against the expansion Calgary Fillies, Hawkins has already assessed his starting quarterback situation. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his quarterbacking candidates is their youth and the possibilities for a competitive future.

Krenbrink is the oldest at 24, while Belanger is 20. Finkeldey is definitely a work in progress as the 18-year-old measures in at a team-high 5’11”, bringing with her tremendous potential.

“After both camps, we made the decision to make Krenbrink the starter. Yet, because of Belanger’s improvement through the last month, she could start as well. Both women can throw the ball extremely far and have good accuracy.

It will be interesting to see how this competition plays itself out. Whoever is the most comfortable and consistent will be deemed the starter in our season opener with Calgary.”

With so many new faces on the roster, there is a high possibility for breakout stars. In discussing which players could make great contributions, Hawkins is still evaluating his talent. Staying realistic, he believes that there are some players which bring many great variables to the field.

“It is really hard to tell because I have such a talented group of young ladies who could all start at multiple spots on the field. Although, if I had to name a few new players who I think will make an immediate impact on our team then I would have to choose Danielle Guy (very coachable and mature, has a natural athleticism and desire to learn and get better).

Kyla Krenbrink and Nicole Belanger are smart and athletic, always ready to compete and can play multiple positions. Keilyn Howie has athleticism that is unmatched at any position we put her at on the field, and Kristina Ginter has great speed, focus, and is a natural athlete. That is just to name a few.”

After missing the postseason by one win last season, Hawkins is ready to bring the Rage to the next level. With Cecchini as one of the league’s finest on defense, complemented by Kylie Rossler, one of the top five rushers in 2012, a strong foundation is in place. In discussing what it will take to make the playoffs, Hawkins employs a team-first approach.

“I think the key to making the playoffs is tackling this season one game at a time and putting a strong emphasis on T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More)

We will not win unless everyone is on the same page and 100% committed to the same goal. As for this moment, we are only seeing red. The only thing on our mind is beating the Calgary Fillies. So if you want to know what it will take to get to the playoffs, just tune in when it all starts for us on Sept. 14th at the Stampede Corral.”