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Tsawwassen football standout calls it a career

SDSS grad Riley Jones departs from game as a Grey Cup and Vanier Cup champion

The Beach Grove Golf Club will be seeing a lot more of Riley Jones.

The football standout from Tsawwassen now has plenty of time to enjoy his new membership at his hometown course after announcing his retirement on Monday.

Jones, 27, played four seasons with the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders where he was a force on special teams and also saw time at linebacker.

“It’s the right time to hang them up and move on,” he said in an interview with the Optimist from his home in Kitsilano. “With COVID and having not played for over a year and stuff, it just gave me a lot of time to think. There were also some small issues with injuries and what not too.”

Jones has not played since the 2019 Western Semi-Final as the pandemic wiped out the entire 2020 CFL season. It remains to be seen what happens in 2021 as the league has indicated fans must be in the stands for play to resume.

“It’s been tough,” he continued. “When COVID first hit we were expecting to be starting up again (last) September with our Labour Day Classic game (against Edmonton). That didn’t happen and neither did the season. I had stayed in ready to play (shape) for a real long time. It at least got my body some much-needed rest. “When it was time to start up again (for a potential 2021 season) it was time to look in the mirror, talk to my family, my girlfriend and everyone around me if I wanted to do it all over again.”

Jones will now turn his attention to becoming a firefighter. He has already completed all the required courses and it’s a matter of now going through the application process.

“I’m hoping to get on with a hall sometime soon,” continued Jones. “Since college, we have always had firefighters come into our team and explain what the job is like. Everything that revolves around it is such a team environment and that is kind of what really drew me towards it. I would love to stay in the Lower Mainland but I would go anywhere really and hopefully be a good asset.”

Growing up, Jones starred on both sides of 53rd Street in Tsawwassen, initially with the South Delta Rams community minor football program, before joining the South Delta Sun Devils for his grade 11 and 12 years. It was then off to Point Grey where he capped his university career by helping the upstart UBC Thunderbirds capture the Vanier Cup in 2015.

Upon his arrival in Calgary, he excelled on special teams, recording 28 special-teams tackles during his professional career. Jones also saw action on defence and recorded 14 tackles including two tackles for loss.

He delivered one of the key plays in the Stamps’ 2018 Grey Cup victory over the Ottawa RedBlacks as he forced a fourth quarter fumble on a Ottawa punt return, leading to a Rene Paredes field goal that extended Calgary’s lead and helped secure the eighth championship in franchise history.

“Riley was an extremely hard worker who quietly and consistently contributed to our success during his time with the team,” said Stampeders president and general manager John Hufnagel. “The players on cover teams rarely get much recognition but Riley’s big play in the 2018 Grey Cup was a rare and well-timed moment in the spotlight. I thank him for everything he has done for the organization and wish him the best in the next chapter of his life.”

Jones added that late November night at Commonwealth Stadium is one he will never forget.

“Just the fact I won a Grey Cup is great but to be able to say I helped in a decent way is something I will remember forever,” he added. “I can remember every step I took when I think back to that play. Today has been a weird day. I will hold my head up high and be proud of what I have done in my football career.

“Calgary was an awesome place to spend my entire career in. I just loved the city and it was a huge football town. The coaches were super good to me. They took an undrafted kid from Tsawwassen and gave me a home. I will always be grateful for that.”