Posted: Oct 01, 2016
(Photo: Regina Rams)
By Casey Dulson, CIS Football Correspondent
Noah Picton can’t picture himself in any other CIS uniform.
“Being a Picton in Regina is something that I’ve been around my entire life,” said the third-year quarterback, as the Rams geared up to host the Saskatchewan Huskies in the SaskTel Fall Classic in the first game at the new Mosaic Stadium. “Whenever people talk about the Regina Rams, there’s always talk about my father’s name and the great success he had.
“Having that Picton name, I try to live up to the expectations and to the legacy it brings.”
His father, Dean Picton, is a legend in the city, having led the Rams at quarterback to two Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) national championships in 1986 and 1987, prior to the team later transferring to CIS. And over the last three years, Noah has been fortunate enough to be able to play with his cousins, Mitchell and Aaron Picton and Blake Anaka.
“There was one play (last year) where myself, Blake, Aaron and Mitch were all on the field together which did not happen very often,” he said. “I don’t remember if it was a Picton snap or ‘Picton hands it off to his cousin.’ (But) I remember in the huddle looking at them and saying that this is a pretty special moment.”
Five weeks into the CIS football season, the No.4 nationally-ranked Rams have been the surprise of the season, sporting a 3-1 record in the Canada West conference, with much of their success coming from the Picton family.
Entering Week 6 play, Noah, who was named back-to-back CIS offensive player of the week early on in the campaign, leads the nation in passing yards with 1,714 and is tied for first in touchdowns (14) with Ottawa Gee-Gees quarterback Derek Wendel. He also averages 428.5 yards per game, also tops in the country.
His cousin Mitchell is his key slotback, leading the CIS in receiving touchdowns (7) and yards per game (121.3). The fourth-year standout was also named CIS offensive player of the week on Wednesday after he caught 13 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns in Regina’s 32-27 upset win over the Calgary Dinos last Saturday.
“Mitch is a heck of receiver, any quarterback on any team will be grateful or lucky to have him,” Noah said. “All the success he has had is no surprise because he works hard in the offseason and on the field…When I get the ball from my hands to his, I know he is going to make the plays.”
In the last three weeks, the Pictons have helped Regina knock off three Top 10 opponents, including last week’s win over No.2 Calgary – the first time Noah had beaten the Dinos in his career – a stark contrast to last season when the Rams finished last in Canada West with an 0-8 record.
“We have matured as a group and decided to play for each other,” said new head coach Steve Bryce, a teammate of Dean Picton on the junior national championship teams in the 1980s.
This season, the Pictons have taken that message to heart – playing for the Rams while also playing for each other as a family.
“Throughout the years, (my dad) has been the biggest influence in my football career,” Noah said. “He’s someone I wanted to emulate as a kid and still to do this day. He’s like a full-time coach at home - a lot of life lessons I’ve been taught have come from him.
“Being able to play with people who have the same bloodline is something that I will cherish for a long time.”
The game on Saturday – a rematch of the team’s season opening 41-39 overtime loss to the Huskies – will be another memory for the Picton household, playing before an expected sellout crowd at the opening of the new Mosaic Stadium, with potentially a new Canada West attendance record being set.
“As a kid, you always want to go to a Riders game and you thought that it was pretty cool if you got to play in Mosaic,” Noah said, of the team’s current home field that they share with the Roughriders. “It was a pretty special thing that everyone looked forward to. Being able to play the last game at Mosaic Stadium and being able to kick off at the new stadium is something I’ll never forget.”