VANCOUVER -- Steve Doege will finally get a chance to travel in style Friday.
The 22-year-old defensive lineman will be among some 60 B.C. Lions players taking a charter flight to Calgary for a CFL pre-season game the same evening against the Stampeders. A good performance will help him earn more flights instead of tiresome drives on the highway between Vancouver and his hometown of Kelowna, B.C.
Doege, a 2012 territorial protection, split last season between the B.C. practice roster and his Okanagan Sun junior club. As a result, he drove for many hours getting to practices and games.
This year, although he has a year of junior eligibility remaining, he hopes to take a road less travelled to the official start of his pro career.
"It wasn't fun driving 12 hours a week," said Doege, who usually plays defensive end.
After spending a season with the Lions while also earning Canadian Junior Football League all-star honours with the Sun, he is starting to feel more comfortable with the CFL club.
"If I keep doing what I'm doing, I'm sure good things will happen," said Doege.
Coach Mike Benevides and defensive line boss coach Carl Hairston tend to agree. They say he has a good chance to earn a spot on the main roster.
According to Benevides, Doege has been one of the best players in camp, even after adding 20 pounds of muscle to 250. Of course, Doege must still prove himself in the pre-season, but the coaches will give him plenty of opportunities to shine.
He is slated to play on regular downs and see extensive special-teams duty on punt returns and kickoff returns and, possibly, kickoffs against the Stamps.
"He's had a great camp," said Benevides. "He deserves (the playing time.)
"He's a hard-working guy. Those guys that work hard are the guys that I want on my football team."
When Doege wasn't practising with the Lions or playing with the Sun, he spent four years working hard at a concrete-supply store.
"It was a good job," said Doege, who also studied auto mechanics. "I couldn't complain. It got me the money I needed to play for my (football) training."
Although Doege is young in comparison to some other Lions hopefuls, he started in football late.
He did not take up the sport until he was 15, starting as a linebacker and running back in high school and the Sun. When the junior club's defensive line suffered injuries, he moved there and never moved back.
"It's a lot easier playing defensive end than the other two," he said. "There's a lot more to know at the other positions."
Meanwhile, Benevides will use the game to gain knowledge on his team. While winning is always the goal, the priority is to determine who should stay and who should go.
The coach said it will a critical contest for quarterbacks Thomas DeMarco and Joey Elliott, a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, who are trying to secure the backup job behind Travis Lulay. DeMarco is listed as No. 2 for now while Elliott is No. 3.
Benevides said the pre-season is also important for quarterback Chris Hart, who joined the team in the spring and is listed fourth on the depth chart.
"There's a tremendous amount on the line for them," said Benevides. "It's no different than with (former backups) Mike Reilly and Travis Lulay in previous years."
Note: The Lions released wide receivers William Cole and Travon Patterson and linebacker Kevin Reed on Thursday.