Peter and Luke Thiel after the Huskies' victory Sept. 9, 2011
The Huskies’ all-star defensive duo of Peter and Luke Thiel suffered a major blow Sept. 17 in the Huskies’ loss to the Manitoba Bisons. Luke broke his arm.
Luke, the younger of the two brothers — perhaps better known for his highlight kick returns — had quickly been establishing himself alongside his brother as one of the most dominant defensive players in the Canada West.
“[His injury] hurts us in two spots: He was having a great year [as a defensive back] and he’s also a Canada West all-star kick returner,” said Huskies head coach Brian Towriss. “I don’t expect him to return until after Thanksgiving, if at all.”
Luke, a third-year player, said it was his older brother’s performance as a Huskie that pushed him to improve on the defensive side of the ball.
Peter, a linebacker, had 31 tackles and one sack in six games last season and was named a Canada West all-star. He signed a contract with the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the summer but was released prior to the CFL’s regular season. He is now in his fourth year with the Dogs.
“Seeing the way [my older brother] put in the work… to earn his starting spot was a lot of motivation for me to do the same,” said Luke on Sept. 9 after the Huskies’ victory over the Regina Rams. “I came in and played a little bit of special teams my first year and just worked hard and tried to mimic my brother and earn that spot.”
Luke had been on pace for his best year yet. He was the only player in the conference to have scored a punt return touchdown so far, and he had put up one interception and one broken pass in three games.
“It’s pretty cool being on the field at the same time,” said Peter after the Dogs’ game on Sept. 9 when asked what it’s like to play with his brother. “I find whenever we’re around each other, we’re always thinking the same thing; we’re on the same page.”
The brothers have combined for 21.5 tackles so far this season.
Both Peter and Luke decided to join the Huskies because of the program’s strong history. They grew up in Regina and could have chosen to play with the Regina Rams.
“When I was recruited, [the Huskies] had just been to four of the last five Vanier Cups, so that was a big thing for me when I got the offer,” said Peter.
“The history here and the atmosphere [at Griffiths Stadium] on a Friday night, you can’t beat it,” added the younger Thiel.
When Luke came to the program after high school, he had experience playing both offence and defence but said Huskies head coach Brian Towriss wanted him to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
“I played a little bit of offence in high school but… coach saw me as a defensive player,” said Luke. “I like defence way better anyway.”
Peter, on the other hand, admits to having no offensive skills whatsoever.
“I can’t catch a football and I’m not very fast,” he joked. “I enjoy hitting people.”
Hopefully for the Huskies, Peter can keep beating people up even without his brother to help him.
photo: Raisa Pezderic/The Sheaf