As Bisons training camp wraps up with the pre-season game against the University of Regina Rams this Thursday, Aug. 24, the regular season is coming up fast, starting for the herd on Friday, Sept. 1.
Doubling as the home and regular season opener, the clash will be a rematch with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, who defeated the Bisons 37-9 in last year’s Hardy Cup semifinal game.
With the stage set for a memorable opening to the 2023 regular season, here are three storylines to follow:
Staying the course
Discounting the cancelled 2020 season, the herd has made four straight post-season appearances dating back to 2018. Last year, the team finished 4-5 on the season, finding most wins at home with a 3-1 record while going 1-4 on the road. Although the Bisons made the Hardy Cup semifinal, mother nature would go on to influence the game the most as the herd played the Huskies in a snowstorm.
In fact, last season’s semifinal was a rematch of the 2021 Hardy Cup final, where the Huskies would defeat the Bisons 45-17. The Bisons had finished the 2021 campaign 5-3 overall, with a 3-1 home record and a 2-2 road record.
Even with the cancelled 2020 season, the Bisons have had steady regular season runs since 2019. The Bisons had the same 4-5 record in both the 2019 and 2022 seasons, and only bowed out in 2019 after a hard-fought Hardy Cup semifinal, losing by a single point to the University of Calgary Dinos.
Essentially, as long as the Bisons continue on the same post-season trend of the past four seasons, they are sure to make the Canada West playoffs once again this year.
With first annual winner of the Spirit of the Bison Award and veteran quarterback Des Catellier completing his final eligible year in 2022, Jackson Tachinski is taking over the reins.
A fellow Winnipegger, Tachinski’s career stats are promising, putting up 48 points with eight rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons. Tachinski has also thrown 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions over his career, improving from six interceptions in 2021 to just one interception in 2022. His longest throw came in the 2022 season with a 49-yard pass.
Tachinski will be backed up by quarterbacks Sawyer Thiessen, Jordan Hanslip and Justin Sharp.
Bisons to watch for
While the new quarterback storyline is the biggest talking point going into the 2023 season, there are several Bisons on the team for football fans to watch for.
Maple Grove, Minn. product Maya Turner is returning as kicker and punter. Turner made program history by becoming the first female player in a U Sports football game to score points last season with a 25-yard field goal in a pre-season game against the Huskies.
Bisons 2022-23 male Athlete of the Year AK Gassama will also be returning to the team. The Bisons receiver has scored five touchdowns in his career and has 440 receiving yards under his belt.
Gassama’s fellow 2023 East-West Bowl teammates Nick Conway and Stephen Adamopoulos — both defensive backs — are also returning to the herd this season. Conway and Adamopoulos have combined for three interceptions and two forced fumbles in their careers with the Bisons.
Additionally, running back Breydon Stubbs is coming back to the club after his impressive seven touchdowns in his eight games played last season.
Bisons football will once again be in the steadfast hands of head coach Brian Dobie, who has helmed the team since 1996.