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May 21, 2019

Konar’s homecoming ‘a dream come true’

Just for fun, we start this one off by hopping into the time machine. It was the first week of 2018 training camp when GM Ed Hervey — his defensive battles seemingly set for the Kamloops grind — swung a deal with the Tiger-Cats, sending a third-round pick to Steeltown for defensive lineman Davon Coleman.

A relative unknown to most Lions fans at the time, Coleman would earn a West Division All-Star nod and the team’s nomination for Most Outstanding Player.

Fast forward to year two of the Hervey-led regime and it appears they have landed another big fish on that side of the ball. Adam Konar was on the practice field Monday morning, hours after he arrived in Kamloops and put pen to paper on a contract with his hometown Lions. It has indeed been a whirlwind for the North Vancouver native since he was cut loose by the Eskimos over the weekend.

“I’m fired up to be out here and just to get the opportunity to not only play but play at home,” Konar said.

“It’s a great opportunity and obviously being home makes it even better. Being on this field in Kamloops is a dream come true.”

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Mike Reilly speaks with his receivers on the field in Kamloops, B.C. (BCLions.com)

It’s also a homecoming in more ways than one. His father Kevin Konar suited up for the Lions as a linebacker for the entire 1980s, a memorable decade for the franchise that included three Grey Cup appearances and a championship win in 1985. Adam may have been born four years after his dad last strapped on a helmet but knows all about the legacy he is following.

“He was excited I signed, simple as that,” the young Konar said.

“It was awesome to have him as a role model and coach growing up. It gives you something to push for and gives you non-stop goals to try and achieve. That is what has been able to push me; the chance to do something similar to what he did as a Lion.”

Drafted by the green and gold in round three of the 2015 draft, Konar recorded 94 tackles and three interceptions, two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in his 34 appearances. His most productive campaign came in 2017 and that’s what the brass had in mind when they brought him into work with the stable of linebackers they already have.

Konar played primarily at the spot that was vacated by Bo Lokombo signing in Montreal. There was also some room for a new body after the surprise retirement of fellow local boy Terrell Davis on the eve of camp.

Still, he’s joining a defence with some pretty decent playmakers.

“Definitely. It’s also a chance to work with a new coach in DeVone Claybrooks and a guy like Stubler who has been around for a long time,” he said.

“It definitely feels like we’re building something special. I’m thrilled to be a part of that.”

Another thing that will make Konar’s transition back to the west coast easier is the fact he gets to be reunited with a few of his old friends in Edmonton, including quarterback Mike Reilly.

“That also is what made it an easy decision to come out here,” explained Konar.

“It’s going to be tough. I never got an interception off him in practice while we were with Edmonton so there is a challenge for myself this season (laughs). It’ll be exciting to face him every day in practice again and of course to have him on my squad come game day.”

Having his Dad to lean on was certainly a bonus, as was the chance to play for the prestigious Vancouver College Fighting Irish program. The linebacker insists it was at O’Hagan Field where he learned how to be a winner and took some lifelong lessons from longtime head coach Todd Burnett.

“It definitely set me up for my whole future playing there,” explained Konar.

“He’s the type of coach that knows every position on the football field and knows every little detail. I owe a lot to coach Burnett.”

Yearly reminder that once the roster is set before camp, pleasant surprises could soon follow.

Matt Baker: mbaker@bclions.com