Author of the article Gordon Anderson | The Sault Star
Published Jun 02, 2023
The Sault Steelers open up Northern Football Conference regular season play this Saturday night when they are in Sudbury to face the Spartans.
Steelers president and GM Jon Bujold is, dare we say, optimistic about his team’s chances in the 2023 version of the Ontario Semi-Pro Football League.
“I think we will be as good, if not better than last year,” Bujold told the Sault Star. “It’s the same core as (last year as) we didn’t lose any significant players this off-season. We have a really young and talented group.”
Last season, the Steelers went 3-3 in regular-season action and finished fifth in the nine team conference The Sault beat the Oakville Longhorns 52-0 in the first round of the post-season before losing 30-0 in the second round to the Tri-City Outlaws.
As far as numbers go, Bujold says the team is in good shape to form a competitive lineup come the 7 p.m. kickoff at James Jerome Sports Complex.
“We’re probably at 28 to 30 healthy guys for this weekend and that is perfectly fine if it is a worse-case scenario,” Bujold said, noting the team is a perpetual recruiting mode.
Further to the GM’s previous comments, Bujold expanded his thoughts on where the club’s strengths may lie this season.
“Our defence is stellar, just like it was last year,” Bujold said. “Our offence is a little bit older and more experienced and we brought in four rookies that are high calibre rookies. I expect us to be just as good, if not better and I expect us to be a little tougher to beat just based on our experience.
The rookies Bujold mentioned include defensive lineman Blake Ianelli; offensive linemen Ryan Neveau-Anich and Zachary Cripps, via the London Beefeaters program, and inside linebacker Jacob Jurich.
“I don’t think there is a weak spot in the rookie class we (brought in),” Bujold said.
The Steelers were schedule to open the schedule at home this weekend but the Toronto Raiders folded for this season, the schedule undergoing a radical change. The Steelers home opener is pushed back to June 10 against the Spartans. Kick-off is 7:30 p.m.
But first thing is first.
“We are excited about this weekend,” Bujold said. “We haven’t won in their barn in about a decade and we want to reverse that.”