The Westshore Rebels hope they have themselves a 1-2 punch in the offensive backfield, so much so that their new runningbacks will actually be wearing the No. 1 and 2 jerseys.
Having lost all-star Ontario runningback Greg Morris to junior college, the Rebels recruited a pair of easterners to help fill his shoes and possibly those of Niles Goguen, whose return also looks murky.
Juma Emanuel joins the Rebels from Windsor, Ont., and his backfield partner, Terry Houngbo-Gody, was born in Africa, moved to the United States at age two and then headed to Quebec in his late teens.
They now look forward to tearing up some turf in the B.C. Football Conference.
“It’s a new opportunity. I get to see something new,” said Houngbo-Gody, who was told to give the Island a shot by former Rebels defensive back Quincy Van de Cruize.
Houngbo-Gody and Emanuel have both heard the lore that surrounded Morris, an All-Canadian in 2012 after rushing for 1,527 yards on 150 carries and scoring 14 touchdowns. He led the league in rushing and surpassed B.C. Lions’ star and former Vancouver Island Raiders running back Andrew Harris for the second-highest run totals in a season.
The previous year, Morris was named the BCFC rookie of the year after producing 1,064 yards rushing on 128 carries.
“I’ve heard about Greg and I’ve come out here to break those records,” Houngbo-Gody, 21, said of Morris’s marks. “No pressure, no. I like a goal. I like a challenge. It makes me work harder and it makes me want to beat that record. I know he was a good guy and I’m a good guy.”
The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder may not have heard of Morris’s Canadian Junior Football League record of yards rushed in a game when he rumbled 24 times for 405 yards, last season against Kamloops.
Emanuel is an 18-year-old who stands five foot seven and 180 pounds.
“To be honest, I’m ready for this league,” said Emanuel, whose highlight tape brought attention to the Rebels. “I’ve seen Greg’s numbers and I’m just going to try my best. Giving it 100 per cent.”
As for what type of back he is, the newcomer stated: “You’ll have to see for yourself, but I’m a speedy, shifty guy and I can take hits all day. Yes, I’ll be playing against older guys, but I’ve got used to the speed and level.
“They’re bigger guys, but if they can’t catch me, they can’t hurt me,” he said with a chuckle.
Both have established goals for the 2013 BCFC season.
Emanuel is hoping to reach the 1,000-yard mark in rushing, despite the unknown of opposing defences.
“I think I can do it. I do,” he stressed.
“I’m trying to get a ring, not just for myself, but for everyone as a unit,” said Houngbo-Gody.
Both will also return kicks for the Rebels, who open the season Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Raiders at Westhills Stadium.