Hawks' Media Archive
October 17, 2011
Running back Anton Bennett ...
... and Head Coach Gary Jeffries
October 3, 2011
May 8, 2011
LONDON, ON — Shamawd Chambers scored a touchdown and ran for 84 yards, and Daniel Bishop recorded a team-leading eight tackles, as Team West fell in overtime to Team East 34-27 at the annual Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) East-West Bowl.
Team West was comprised of all-stars from Laurier as well as other schools across Canada in a game that concluded a week-long training camp for the top CFL 2012 draft-eligible players.
Laval’s running back Sebastien Levesque scored a touchdown in the shootout-format of overtime, and Team East concluded the game with a pick off of Team West and Western quarterback Donnie Marshall by Sherbrooke defensive back Philippe Dubuisson-Lebon.
“He was absolutely tremendous,” said Laurier head coach and one of Team West’s coaches, Gary Jeffries of Chambers.
Along with Chambers and Bishop, Laurier defensive back, Shane Burns also participated in the all-star event, recording one tackle.
Mitchell Bosch was also invited, but couldn’t play due to a bum ankle.
Laurier’s fall training camp starts on August 22.
(Photo: Dan Polischuk, LFC)
June 28, 2011
CALGARY, AB - Justin Phillips beard is a long ways from turning grey, but the recently turned 26-year-old checked into this month's training camp as the senior member of the Calgary Stampeders' defensive line.
As William Shatner would say, weird or what?
"We were looking on the team website the other day and we noticed that," said the six-foot-three, 240-pounder, following Sunday's practice at McMahon Stadium. "That's kinda cool."
This will mark the 2007 first-round selection of the Canadian Football League team's fifth season and while fellow D-linemen DeVone Claybrooks and Charleston Hughes have more experience in pro football, no one has worn the red and white jersey longer.
So while there have been considerable changes in personnel since Phillips' arrival as a linebacker out of Wilfrid Laurier University, his role has also evolved.
"I'm taking more of a leadership role and things are going well," said a prime candidate to fill a starting end position vacated by Mike Labinjo. "We've got some senior guys with us in Claybrooks and Hughes, so that's a pretty good leadership group.
"Every year, there seems to be turnovers, but it's good to have the mainstays in there to help mentor the younger guys and be the veteran presence on game days in terms of mentorship and playing experience."
Although Phillips dressed for 12 games in his rookie season of 2007 and for all 18 games and the playoffs in the Grey Cup victory season of 2008, he didn't get his first start on the line until opening day in 2009, when he played 14 games. There were 15 more games last season as the Stamps employed a revolving door defensive line.
On top of his defensive duties, the Ottawa-area resident is a key member of the special teams, piling up a career-high 14 tackles last year on punt and kick return coverage.
"As a senior guy coming in, you embrace the leadership role, not only with the defensive unit but on special teams, and I'm a big part of that," he said. "You try to make sure guys on the punt team make the blocks, ensure the younger guys are lined up right to succeed. It's a bigger role, but you embrace it as you get older and I'm really enjoying it."
There's also more respect paid to the greybeards.
"Yeah, that, too. Which is good," he said, smiling. "The younger guys are looking up to you but with more responsibilities you have to be more responsible out there and off the field . . . you have to show the young guys how to be a true professional off and on the field."
Phillips is every bit the true pro and even took time out during the off-season to conduct a football camp with a bit of a different twist for Ottawa-area kids.
"There's lots of football camps out there where kids learn skills on how to be better football players, but something I never got the opportunity to do in high school was learn how to train properly for the game. So I focused on that aspect of it, taught them strength and conditioning stuff, speed and agility stuff.
"It was a really rewarding experience for me and I think the kids really benefited from it."
Phillips also could be the benefactor of more starts this season, not only because Labinjo isn't back, but because Tom Johnson, Tearrius George and Miguel Robede are gone. Even with 17 defensive linemen still on the camp roster Sunday, the door is open.
"I came into the league young at 21 as a rookie and it takes a few years to develop us Canadians and for the team to get comfortable with you," he said. "I've gained the coaches trust, so I feel like I'll play an increased role on defence this year. I'm really looking forward to it and I'm going to embrace it."
Besides himself, Claybrooks and Hughes, Khari Long, Robert McCune, Corey Mace and Ian DeGannes-Shaw return among a cast of gung-ho defensive line candidates. As such, he sees good things ahead for the unit.
"I think we're really shaping up to be a very good unit. Some of the new guys coming in look pretty promising," he said. "We have lots of speed up front and I think we're really going to get after the quarterbacks this year and give them a variety of different looks, blitzes and different line stunts, so I'm really excited to see what we're going to do.
"I think there's really going to be a lot of pressure on quarterbacks when they line up against the Stampeders this year."
June 22, 2011
HAMILTON, ON - Special teams is a matter of will, not a matter of talent or physical capabilities, but make no mistake -- it takes a talented player to compete on the special units in the CFL. However, the athletes who are great special teams players in the CFL have an unwavering desire to compete.
“We’re looking for guys who have a passionate determination to go down and get the ball,” special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Brad Miller said after practice on Wednesday.
There is nothing flashy about running down and covering a kickoff, punt or missed field goal, but the best way for a rookie to break into the league and earn his coaches trust is by taking care of his assignments on the special forces.
Tiger-Cats linebacker and special teams ace Yannick Carter, who is entering his fifth CFL season, has built a strong reputation as a reliable player to line up on kickoff, punt and kick cover units.
“Special teams on the field is one of the toughest things I have ever had to experience in my life," Carter said. “On defence, if you make a mistake you have the next play to redeem yourself, but on special teams it’s one play so you have to give it your all at that moment.”
A strong mental makeup is required to become a legit and productive special forces player.
“You’ve got to be determined and you’ve got to be strong in the mind because there will be times where you’ll be running down field and all of a sudden a guy will come out of nowhere and ear-hole you, so you have to be mentally prepared to get back up and fight hard,” Carter said.
"Also, know that your physical training you put in during the off-season is going to pay off in the long run.”
The Laurier product changed up his training regimen while preparing for the 2011 CFL season, which included Muay Thai fitness training in Milton five times a week. The switch in training techniques has the savy teamer feeling bigger, stronger and faster coming into training camp this year.
“So far in practice I feel so much more at ease in terms of the amount of reps that we’re taking, running down field full speed and being able to come back and do it again for a second set,” Carter explained. “Last year I kind of struggled with my stamina, but this year I feel like I’ve gotten that edge on the competition.”
Carter's experience and leadership will be valuable assets to the Ticats this season, as the team will need to replace last year's special teams captain Ray Mariuz after he retired last month.
“Ray was a great player, I’m not trying to fill his shoes, I’m not trying to re-live his legacy that he left here with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the CFL,” Carter said. “I’m trying to create that of my own and I’m really looking forward to doing that… everyone wants to elevate their game to the next level.”
Ticats rookies are battling to earn a spot on special teams just as Carter did five years ago as a first year player with Saskatchewan. The competition to win a job on Miller’s special teams units has been intense in the early stages of camp.
“There’s been so much talent and we are still well within the context of teaching phase. We have a lot of guys who are putting out a tremendous amount of effort. When we get to the Black and Gold scrimmage we’ll have a better chance to evaluate,” Miller said.
Although, one rookie has stood out to the five-year veteran with his special teams efforts.
“Brandon Denson, he has a great ability to get down field, very physical, very powerful and explosive guy,” Carter said. “Even when he gives me a show look on the scout team it’s hard to block against him.”
Kick cover hopefuls will be tested each and every day in practice by having to track down the Tiger-Cats own explosive kick returner, Marcus Thigpen.
“That guy [Thigpen], he can stop on a dime and he’s full speed in the opposite direction before you can even blink, you get your practice in against him because there is a lot of returners in the league that will do that to you,” Carter said. “Having a guy in practice that will give you a good look is real important.”
(Watch the video from Ticats TV here as they chat with Carter and his teammates.)
June 3, 2011
GUELPH — The Guelph Gryphons might have a bit of a Laurier Golden Hawks feel during the 2011 OUA football season.
Thursday, the Gryphons named Todd Galloway, 29, their offensive co-ordinator. He and Gryphon defensive co-ordinator Kevin MacNeill were teammates at Laurier from 2000 to 2004. Galloway was a wide receiver while MacNeill was a linebacker.
“We played together there and we actually coaches together for a few years, as well,” Galloway said.
After graduating from Laurier, Galloway was the receivers coach and assistant offensive coach for the Golden Hawks for three seasons.
Galloway felt that the fact that he and MacNeill have played and coached together was a plus on his resume.
“That’s one of the benefits that I believe that I had as a candidate, the comfortability there,” he said. “We know we can trust each other and we really want to play for each other. There’ll never be an issue between us.”
He was also the offensive co-ordinator for the Guelph Bears of the Ontario Varsity Football League in 2006, giving him intimate knowledge of the Alumni Stadium field as the Bears used that as their home field that season.
Galloway joins the Gryphs from the St. Mary’s Huskies of the Atlantic conference. He joined the Huskies in 2007 and was their defensive backs coach and assistant defensive coach. Last year, he was the assistant offensive coach and receivers coach for St. Mary’s.
Galloway also had success with the Metro Mustangs of the Nova Scotia Varsity Football League as he guided them to four league titles. Last year, he was also the head coach/offensive co-ordinator for Nova Scotia’s under-17 provincial team and this year he is the offensive co-ordinator of the under-18 team that will represent Nova Scotia at the Canada Cup.
“Todd is a really good fit for what we need,” Gryphon head coach Stu Lang said in a media release. “He’s proven to be a successful coach at a high level. He’s an experienced, intelligent coach who will be able to come in and help us pick up where we left off. We’re excited to have him join our staff.”
Galloway, a Kitchener native who is living in Halifax, will be travelling to Guelph next week to check out the football surroundings.
“My first trip out will be next week,” he said. “It’ll be just making sure I meet all the coaches, meet all the players and everybody in administration. Then I want to start going through game film and getting an idea of what we have and what we maybe what we can still go out and get this year.”
While quarterback Jack Creighton has left the Gryphons to return to St. Mary’s, Galloway likes what he has in returnees Chris Rossetti and Luke Nangle.
“I’ve seen the guys we’ve got coming back and I’ve got a lot of faith in them,” Galloway said. “I know Chris Rossetti had a good year and Nangle, he’s a veteran who’s ready to fill in as well.”
Galloway replaces Perry Marchese who resigned in April. The Gryphons were 4-4-0 last season, the first for Lang as head coach and MacNeill and Marchese as the co-ordinators.
While he will not have stellar running back Nick FitzGibbon at his disposal, Galloway wants to see exactly what he does have to work with in Guelph before making a final decision on the style of offence the Gryphons will employ this season.
“I have got a system that I run, but I’m not going to pigeon-hole people into my system,” he said. “I want to get an idea of the athletes that we have there and if there needs to be any minor adjustments to it. I do run a system that’s based on ball control and using a lot of motion, a lot of misdirection to create mismatches.”
(Photo: Laurier Athletics)
June 13, 2011
Nothing builds confidence like picking off a Hall of Fame quarterback, so by that measure, Taurean Allen had a great off-season.
Three times a week, Allen joined a group of CFL players in Mississauga for workouts and they constantly pushed each other to be better, despite being on different clubs.
They had an enthusiastic voice pushing them on with Matt Dunigan out tossing the football around.
Heading into his sophomore season with the Calgary Stampeders, Allen feels he’s ready to take a step forward.
Now that he can compete against a Hall-of-Famer, even one who is 50, the 24-year-old defensive back has the confidence to take an expanded role with the Stamps.
“He’s still trying to fit the ball in there because he thinks he can do it,” Allen said.
“We were able to make a couple of plays on him.
“He’s out there slinging the rock and offering as much knowledge as he did back in the day. He’s still commenting and critiquing us on our technique.
“He gives us some little things that will help better our game.
“It’s good to get a little bit of feedback from someone who is so experienced and highly acclaimed.”
Allen, who was a second-round draft pick in 2010 out of Wilfrid Laurier, played six games last season as a reserve defensive back and special-teamer.
He still has a long way to go before becoming a full-time starter, but at least during this camp, he’s working out at his more natural position of cornerback.
The Stamps don’t expect to start a non-import in the defensive backfield after going with Wes Lysack at safety all of last season.
That leaves Allen and fellow Canuck Eric Fraser — a first-round pick in 2009 — as reserve players.
Fraser is hoping to prove he’s the best option at safety regardless of what his passport reads.
“I want to prove that I’ve bettered myself during the off-season,” Fraser said.
“So far in camp, I’ve done a good job of showing that I’m a different player than I was last year and I’m a better player than last year.
After going hard three times a week, Allen feels much more prepared for the physical demands of training camp.
During TSN’s draft coverage, Dunigan said Allen was primed for a big season.
“When a Hall of Fame QB gives you a shout out, it’s a welcome vote of confidence,” Allen said. “I thank him for that.”
(Photo: Calgary Sun)
April 19, 2011
When students at St. Jacobs Public School see Mr. Quinney walking down the hall, it’s quickly apparent that he isn’t like the other teachers at the school.
Standing 6’1” tall and weighing in at 215 lbs, 24-year-old Peter Quinney is built more like a football player than the average elementary school teacher – and for good reason. For the past year, Quinney has been living a double-life as a Grade 6, 7, and 8 teacher at St. Jacobs, while at the same time trying to fulfill his dream of playing in the Canadian Football League.
“My brothers and I are all big – I’m by far the smallest of the three – and we were always wrestling. The Quinneys were a physical bunch,” he laughed while sitting at his desk Wednesday afternoon after class.
“Naturally I gravitated towards football, and I started off as a big, blunt instrument that could move a pile.”
Quinney developed into much more than a blunt instrument, however. He played high school football at Centennial Secondary School in Belleville and was named athlete of the year five times before moving on to Wilfrid Laurier University to study kinesiology and physical education in 2005.
He played slotback, tight-end and fullback at Laurier, was a member of the Vanier Cup champion Golden Hawks in 2005, and named team captain in his third year.
Throughout his time at university he always had the intention of studying to become a teacher after he was heavily influenced by his teachers and coaches in Belleville.
“I thought ‘wow, what a cool job,’ and I know how great of an affect they can have,” he said.
Upon finishing his undergrad degree in 2009, Quinney simultaneously filled out his teachers college application and prepared to enter the CFL draft in an effort to keep his football dreams alive.
Quinney performed well at the rookie camp that summer and was drafted in the fifth round – 35th overall – by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. However, by the end of June he was released by the team and told to gain another year of experience as a player.
He returned to Laurier to finish his teaching degree and to play another year of university football, and was signed by the Toronto Argonauts later that year – a dream come true for the boy who grew up cheering for the double blue and Mike “Pinball” Clemons.
“When I was a kid, my dad took me to games, and I always wanted to see the Argos play. What a tremendous honour it was to play for them.”
Quinney played in 12 games last season as a special-teams player, but ended up being released from the team in September after NFL cuts allowed the Argo’s to bring in a little more talent from down south.
“It’s devastating, absolutely,” said Quinney. “I tasted that before when I got released from Winnipeg, but I was used to being at the top of the food chain, and I had to understand that ‘wow, I’m not good enough to be here right now,’ so that was very difficult for me.”
As luck would have it, though, the cut didn’t last long. Within a few weeks, the Argos called upon Quinney to fill a roster spot for the regular-season finale against Montreal on Nov. 7 so they could rest some of their starting lineup before the start of the playoffs.
However, Quinney was also scheduled to start his first day of teaching at St. Jacobs the next day, filling in for another teacher for the remainder of the year. The school’s administration permitted him to play because it would have no direct impact on the students, but when he performed well enough to earn a call-back by the Argos to play the following week against Hamilton in the Eastern quarterfinals, he had a difficult decision to make – and he decided to pursue football.
“I actually took two days off three days into my first teaching gig, but they couldn’t have been more accommodating here,” said Quinney.
The juggling act ended the next week against Montreal in the Eastern finals when the
Argonauts lost 48-17, and Quinney knows the unique situation he put both the team and the school board in by pursuing both passions for that month – something he is eternally grateful for.
“That was a very stressful couple of weeks,” he admitted. “There were three or four weeks where I was driving to Mississauga for practice then back here for classes.”
Just this past week, however, his road towards becoming a permanent player in the CFL became a little murkier. On Monday, Quinney was informed by the Argos that they would not be pursuing his services for the upcoming season, which he admits has made him a little uncertain about his football future.
He knows that even a year or two away from the game could spell the end of his career, but he has reached an understanding that perhaps his days of playing professionally are coming to an end.
“I’m very happy that I was able to strap on the pads and jersey when I did, but if I can’t anymore, then maybe that stage of my life is over.
“If I had to choose between football and teaching, I would choose teaching 100 per cent of the time,” he said. “Football has a very short shelf-life, and you only have a certain window to play, so I’ll keep training and exploring my options, but I’m certainly comfortable here as well.”
He says that his time as a professional athlete has shaped him into the teacher he is today. He teaches seven classes a day – art, math, science, geography, history, and physical education – and is enjoying every minute of it. He has even gravitated towards coaching in the school, a natural fit for the former student-athlete, and he says that athletics and teaching are actually quite similar.
“The largest subject I teach is math, and when a group of students are getting stressed out and tired and losing focus, we’ll do an activity,” he said. “I think of myself as a high-energy individual and I try to bring up a laugh, but still remain on-task and getting things done.”
He also said that if any team was willing to let him finish classes in June before joining their roster in July, he’d never fully discount that possibility, either.
“I’m terrified of living in regret, and I’d like to know that I have explored all my options and left it all out on the field or in the classroom.”
(Photo: The Observer)
March 6, 2011
"I’ve always been stronger"
That might turn out to be the understatement of the year in the Canadian Football League.
The man that uttered that phrase, Wilfrid Laurier offensive lineman Michael Knill, has become the talk of the 2011 CFL evaluation camp because of his strength.
In both the CFL and the NFL, the ultimate measure of a player’s strength is determined by how many times they can bench press 225 pounds.
On the eve of the bench press test, Knill had told Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun that he not only wanted to break the CFL combine record of 40 reps, he was gunning for the NFL combine record of 49 reps.
The Queen’s Park ball room at the Park Hyatt hotel in Toronto was packed with coaches, general managers and scouts from around the league in anticipation of this enormous feat of raw strength.
Knill eased his enormous 6"6’, 350-pound frame onto the bench and calmly adjusted his grip.
In what is the ultimate job interview for a football player, Knill proceeded to blow the minds of the CFL’s movers and shakers gathered in the room.
Knill’s first 20 reps came so quick it was difficult to keep count. His first 30 reps were done with such ease it looked as if he was lifting an empty bar. Knill didn’t even start breathing heavyily until his 40th rep. By his 45th, Knill began to struggle and had to really work hard for his final few.
By the time Miles Gorrell helped him rack the weight Knill had completed 47 reps, obliterating the CFL’s previous record of 40 set by Laurier’s Mike Montoya last year.
"I’ve been working my butt off to get to a specific number, 50," said Knill. "I didn’t quite achieve my goal, but I’m very happy with the result.
To put Knill’s feat into perspective, the NFL combine bench press record is 49 reps, set by Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea this year.
Knill ended up at Laurier after his eligibility at the University of Michigan expired. Coming from a family that put a large emphasis on academics, Knill loved the way he was able to equally focus his time and energy on both football and his studies at Laurier. "The coaching staff was great, the MBA program was great," he said. "I got to finish it in three semesters."
While the number of times you can bench press 225 pounds doesn’t guarantee you a job in the CFL, it does tell the respective coaches and general managers a lot about an individual athlete.
"This shows who has worked out, who hasn’t worked out, who’s trained for this and how important playing football is to them," said Argonauts head coach and general manager Jim Barker.
The bench press also tells CFL coaches and GM’s a lot about a player’s character.
This is especially true when a player from a CIS school ends up doing more reps than a kid from a big NCAA program.
"If they’re the same body type and the same position, it tells you the kid that puts up more reps has worked harder to get ready to this," added Barker.
Barker has noticed the quality of players that are being produced by CIS schools has improved dramatically over the last decade.
"What you see now, you see a much better trained athlete. You look around the CIS and the facilities are much better and their strength programs are much better."
One final word on Michael Knill and his 47 rep performance: it’s nowhere near his personal best.
Knill said that when he was really into power lifting, he could routinely crank out 60 reps at 225 pounds.
Yes, you read that right. The dude is capable of doing 60 reps at 225 pounds.
Knill tried to downplay the hype surrounding his 47-rep performance. To him, lifting weights has always been part of his daily routine, and always will be.
"It’s like eating breakfast for me," he explained.
A Tiger-Cats fan growing up, Knill would love to play in the CFL some day. But he’s also aware that what he accomplished Saturday might draw the attention of scouts and teams in the NFL.
"Wherever I can open doors for myself is great."
February 22, 2011
September 30, 2010
Yes, Ryan Pyear broke the law.
"It was back in June and I was driving along the 401 and my cell phone rang and I noticed on caller I.D. that it was our athletic director," said Pyear. "I was kind of cautious about picking it up with the new law and all."
But, he did.
Pyear was informed he'd been voted into the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies take place Friday night on the WLU campus in Waterloo.
"I was kind of stunned," said Pyear. "I definitely wasn't expecting it. Not many people expect to be a first-ballot inductee.
"It's an awesome feeling."
Pyear's call to the hall came on the same day he was picking up an engagement ring for his longtime girlfriend, Monica. They are to be married next summer.
"That was two big things in one day," he said.
Although the Belleville native and Centennial Secondary School graduate was surprised to learn he'd made the Golden Hawks Hall of Fame on the first ballot, it shouldn't come as a shock to those who know him or watched his feats on the football field at CSS and WLU.
After starring at quarterback for the Chargers in Bay of Quinte and COSSA football, Pyear was the most heavily recruited pivot in Ontario. He chose WLU where he took every snap as a rookie, going on to play five years as a starter and compiling an impressive record that included a Vanier Cup title in 2005.
Among Pyear's other achievements at WLU:
— 5,927 total yards passing.
— 62 touchdown passes.
— Two Yates Cup OUA titles.
— OUA Rookie of the Year.
— Two-time All-Canadian.
— Two-time OUA First Team All-Star.
— Vanier Cup and Uteck Bowl MVP.
— Two-time President's Award as top male athlete at WLU.
Today, Pyear is still with the Golden Hawks, in his fifth season as offensive co-ordinator.
Like the news of his Hall of Fame induction, the offer to become a coach at WLU just days after his playing career had ended also caught Pyear off guard. It was delivered by his father, Barry, a former Bay of Quinte educator and football coach who then coaching running backs at WLU.
"I wrote my last exam and was driving back to Belleville with my dad and I was thinking about packing up and going to France to play semi-pro when — out of the blue — dad popped it to me," said Pyear. "I thought I'd misheard him. I thought he was telling me that he was going to be offensive co-ordinator. Not me. I didn't see that one coming at all."
"But when I started to think about it, it was an easy decision. It was a challenge and it still is. Probably every year.
"The biggest thing for me at first was being a coach in the players' eyes. These were guys I'd played with. It was like tightroping.
"But, after a couple of years, I fully overcame it."
Pyear describes himself as laidback when the game is over, but "all business" when it's on.
"I'm good with the players off the field," he said. "I can relax and joke around with them. But on the field they know I'm a different beast. I expect a lot."
And, if they want to know what it takes to win a national championship, all they have to do is ask.
"Winning the Vanier Cup in 2005 was definitely the highlight of my career," said Pyear. "I'd been dreaming about it since I was a kid and watched my brother, Kyle, have success at McMaster. It's still amazing that it happened.
"We were huge underdogs to Saskatchewan. One paper out west had us losing 44-0."
But, down by a couple of TDs early in the game, Pyear knew his teammates were capable of pulling off the upset when he stepped into the huddle immediately after the Huskies had scored their second major.
"There was no change in mentality," said Pyear. "There was no pessimism. Everybody was still ready to go. Everybody was waiting for the next play. We realized we could do this.
"No matter what."
Still, it was nerve-wracking.
Down by two points with less than two minutes to go, Pyear needed to engineer a drive that would get the Golden Hawks inside the 50-yard line where kicker Brian Devlin could attempt a game-winning field goal.
"It was third and 16, down by two, on the 50 and we'd just missed a two-point convert that would've won the game," said Pyear. "But we made the first down. Literally, by inches."
Devlin booted the game-winner and all hell broke loose at Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton.
"I walked around in a daze," said Pyear. "I was getting mobbed by the crowd. Fans were grabbing and tugging. I couldn't find my teammates."
The victory capped an incredible football career that began in the Pyear's backyard in Belleville with Ryan throwing passes to his twin brother, Tobin, while Kyle, the oldest, terrorized both of them.
"If I threw the ball over Kyle's head and Tobin caught it, Kyle would chase him down and make him pay," said Pyear, laughing. "We took lots of hits. But we got used to it and it never bothered me.
"I think that got me ready to play real football."
Today, the Pyear brothers are back together again. But they're not hitting each other anymore.
Kyle, a former CIS rushing champion, is running backs coach at WLU while Tobin, a former DB at crosstown Waterloo, lives nearby in Cambridge.
"It's kind of funny," sayd Pyear. "This is probably the first time the three brothers have been able to hang out since high school."
August 28, 2010
WATERLOO — You remember Ontario University Athletics football. Don’t you?
Sure, you do.
It was that game you really meant to follow before nine flunked drug tests at the University of Waterloo catapulted the sport into the news for all the wrong reasons.
For those of you sticking around after the syringes have dried up and UW cancelled its season, the league resumes.
We think four teams – Ottawa, Laurier, Western and McMaster – have legitimate shots to win the Yates Cup, promising to make 2010 a wild ride (without the dopey drugs).
The now nine-team conference’s top six advance to the playoffs. The top two finishers earn a first-round bye.
Here are The Record’s predictions:
1. OTTAWA GEE-GEES
Last year: 6-2, fourth
Playoffs: 0-1, lost to Mac in quarter-final.
Head coach: Jean-Philippe Asselin (first season)
Hello: QB Alex Lundstrom (Philadelphia, Pa.).
Goodbye: LB Mike Cornell (Calgary Stampeders), RB Craig Bearss, head coach Denis Piche.
Big men on campus: QB Brad Sinopoli, R Cyril Adjeitey, OL Patrick D’Amico and Philippe David.
The skinny: Propelled by the best quarterback in the league, the mighty Gee-Gees return 21 starters.
2. LAURIER GOLDEN HAWKS
Last year: 6-2, second
Playoffs: 0-1, lost to Western in semifinal.
Head coach: Gary Jeffries (ninth season)
Hello: QB Shane Kelly (Columbia University), DE Dave Montoya and eight University of Waterloo transfers including, R Dustin Zender and DBs Patrick McGarry and Mitch Nicholson.
Goodbye: DE Chima Ihekwoaba (Detroit Lions), OL Adam Bestard and Andrew Dietrich (B.C. Lions), DB Taurean Allen (Calgary Stampeders), FS Courtney Stephen (Northern Illinois), K/P Chris Mamo and RB Mike Montoya.
BMOC: Rs Dillon Heap and Alex Anthony; LBs Giancarlo Rapanaro and Mitchell Bosch, DL Steve Cormack and Paul Hancock, OL Michael Knill.
The skinny: Stacked with talent but without a top-flight QB since 2005. Is American pivot Kelly the answer?
3. WESTERN MUSTANGS
Last year: 6-2, third
Playoffs:2-1, beat Guelph in quarter-final, beat Laurier in semi and lost to Queen’s in Yates Cup.
Head coach: Greg Marshall: (fourth season)
Hello: QB Ian Noble (Laurier)
Goodbye: QB Michael Faulds, R Jesse Bellamy, DT Chris Greaves (Winnipeg Blue Bombers).
BMOC: QB Donnie Marshall, Rs Nick Pasic, Nick Trevail, Zach Bull, LBs John Surla and Conor Elliot, DL Mike Van Praet and K Darryl Wheeler.
The skinny: Mustangs’ best player RB Nathan Riva ripped his hamstring in training camp. But Western always finds a way.
4. McMASTER MARAUDERS
Last year: 6-2, fifth
Playoffs: 1-1; Beat Ottawa in quarter-final, lost to Queen’s in semi.
Head coach: Stefan Ptaszek (fifth season)
Hello: OL Michael Warner (UW), K Tyler Crapigna (Ottawa).
Goodbye: 2009 conference rookie of the year DB Cody Lynch, DE Anthony Bekasiak.
BMOC: QB Kyle Quinlan, RBs Joey Nemet and Jordan Kozina, LB Ben D’Aguilar, OL Justin Glover and Mike Hoy.
The skinny: The slick Marauders are finally ready to make a serious run.
5. QUEEN’S GOLDEN GAELS
Last year: 7-1, first
Playoffs: 4-0; Beat Mac in quarter-final, beat Western in Yates Cup, beat Laval in Mitchell Bowl and Calgary in Vanier Cup.
Head coach: Pat Sheahan (11th season)
Hello: QB Billy McPhee (Burlington), RB Keith Lagace (Burlington), LB Cory Dyer (Gananoque)
Goodbye: QB Danny Brannagan, DB Jimmy Allin, R Scott Valberg, DL Shomari Williams.
BMOC: QB Justin Chapdelaine, OL Matt O’Donnell, R Chris Ioannides and Blaise Morrison, RB Jimmy Therrien.
The skinny: Twelve starters are gone from last year’s Vanier Cup championship team. Ouch.
6. GUELPH GRYPHONS
Last year: 3-5, sixth
Playoffs: 0-1; lost to Western in quarter-final.
Head coach: Stu Lang (first season)
Hello: Offensive co-ordinator Perry Marchese, defensive co-ordinator Kevin MacNeill, DL Kalvin Seilis (Eastern Michigan) and UW transfers R Nick Anapolsky and RB Steve Lagace.
Goodbye: QB Justin Dunk, K/P Rob Maver, head coach Kyle Walters.
BMOC:QB Chris Rossetti, R Jedd Gardner, RB Nick FitzGibbon, DB James Savoie and LB Adam Dunk.
The skinny: Ten starters return on defence, but that’s not enough to compensate for the loss of scoring machines Dunk and Maver.
7. TORONTO VARSITY BLUES
Last year: 1-7, ninth
Head coach: Greg DeLaval (third season)
Hello: UW transfers DB Hugo Lopez and Brad Morton, RB Chris Weiland (Toledo, Ohio) and defensive co-ordinator Tom Gretes.
Goodbye: OL Chris Kowalczuk (Winnipeg Blue Bombers) and R Drew Meerveld.
BMOC: QB Andrew Gillis, DB Derek Batchelor, DL Mark Evans, LB Wilkerson DeSouza.
The skinny: Improving, but still a long way to go.
8. WINDSOR LANCERS
Last year: 2-6, eighth
Head coach: Mike Morencie (12th season)
Hello: assistant coach Joe D’Amore.
Goodbye: OL Matt Morencie (Hamilton Ticats) and LB Chris Deneau (flunked drug test).
BMOC: QB Sam Malian, RBs Derek Hymers and Paul Lefaive, R Cory Fernandes, DL Seamus Postuma, and DB Matt Bucknor.
The skinny: Malian returns from an injury-riddled campaign along with 16 starters from 2009. Not near enough.
9. YORK LIONS
Last year: 0-8, 10th
Head coach: Warren Craney (first year)
Hello: Offensive co-ordinator Michael Faulds (Western) and defensive co-ordinator Harry Laflamme (Concordia).
Goodbye: PK Adam Moretti.
BMOC: QB Nick Coutu, LB Steve Reading, RB Jason Marshall.
The skinny: Canadian university pass record holder Faulds adds cred to floundering crew but Lions last sampled victory in 2007.
WATERLOO WARRIORS (not competing)
Last year: 3-5, seventh
Head coach: Dennis McPhee (fourth season)
The skinny: Twenty-one clean Warriors, 19 of them starters, transferred to other schools in the drug scandal’s aftermath. And you thought their last seven seasons were bleak.
WEEK 1 MATCHUPS:
(The Record’s picks in capital letters)
OTTAWA at Windsor, 7 p.m.
Queen’s at McMASTER, 7 p.m.
Toronto at GUELPH, 3 p.m.
LAURIER at Western, 7 p.m.
With files from Canadian Interuniversity Sport
(Photo: David Bebee, The Record)
August 25, 2010
In their season opener on Sept. 1, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks football team will look to do something they haven’t done since 2006 – beat the Western Mustangs.
Since their 20-15 win in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) semi-finals back in November of 2006, the Hawks have lost four straight games to their rivals from London, twice in the regular season and twice during the playoffs.
“I don’t think that we’d rather play anybody else [to start the season],” said Laurier quarterback Luke Thompson, who hails from London. “Matching us up against a good team right away really gives us the chance to show where we’re at early in the season. We’re just really excited about it.”
In his three career games against the Mustangs, Thompson has found little success, throwing for a total of eight interceptions compared to just two touchdowns. However, in the Hawks’ most recent loss to the Mustangs, Evan Pawliuk replaced Thompson –who had torn his ACL earlier in the season- and didn’t fare much better, completing well below 50 per cent of his passes and throwing for just 156 yards, culminating in a 26-16 loss, eliminating the purple and gold from last year's OUA playoffs.
“We’ve always struggled against Western,” said linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro. “But we can’t worry about everyone else, as long as we do what we do best I’m sure everyone will be happy with our success.”
Despite their recent struggles against the Mustangs, the Hawks always get excited about the match-up with their bitter rivals and according to manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries, this year is no different.
“That’s never going to change, it’s extremely exciting,” he said. “We can’t wait to get down there and get after them.”
When the original OUA schedule was released the Hawks weren’t going to get a chance at retribution against the Mustangs this season. Due to the fact that the OUA has 10 teams in the conference and an eight game schedule, each team skips one of their potential opponents every year.
During 2010, the Hawks were originally supposed to skip the Mustangs. However, when the University of Waterloo suspended it’s football program for the season as a result of nine of their players testing positive for steroid-use, the schedule was revised, and the purple and gold got their shot at the Mustangs.
“I wouldn’t want to start with any other team,” said wide receiver Dillon Heap, echoing his quarterback's sentiments.
“Originally we started with Mac and then the new schedule came out and we had Western and it changed my mentality, I was definitely more excited. You talk to any of the competitors on this team and we all can’t wait for that game. We’re not afraid of them.”
(Photo: Yusuf Kidwai, The Cord)
August 24, 2010
In week three of last season, Luke Thompson had the game he loves ripped away from him. When the Laurier quarterback went down with a torn ACL in the first half of the Hawks’ game against the Waterloo Warriors it meant his 2009 season was over after just two games.
“It was tough,” said Thompson. “When your passion gets taken away from you, it’s not easy. But there’s peaks and valleys in football and you’ve just got to take it one day at a time and hopefully there will be more positives than negatives.”
Now the fourth-year is back in the fold at Hawks' training camp, and looking forward to another season as the starting pivot for the purple and gold.
“It’s feels really good [to be back in camp],” said Thompson. “It’s something that you take for granted when you’re fully healthy. Just to be back out here with the guys and be in the positive atmosphere, it’s pretty refreshing.”
Prior to last year’s injury, Thompson was coming off of a 2008 season which saw him pass for 1,686 yards and 16 touchdowns – while adding another 364 yards and four touchdowns on the ground – on his way to winning the team’s MVP award.
However, in 2009 he was only able to amass 424 total yards and three touchdowns in his limited playing time.
According to Laurier head coach and manager of football operations Gary Jeffries, with Thompson back under center the Hawks receive more than just an elite quarterback.
“He’s a kid that’s worked really hard, he’s come back and he’s a leader,” said Jeffries. “He’s someone that the other kids really respect and he’s really talented and again it give us that depth factor at such a key position.”
Thompson will make his return to game action in his hometown of London, Ontario when the Hawks open their season versus their bitter rivals the Western Mustangs on Sept. 1.
(Photo: Nick Lachance, The Cord)
August 24, 2010
WATERLOO - Laurier finished the regular season on a high by beating the undefeated Queen’s Gaels to finish 6-2 and earn a first round bye. The Golden Hawks came up short in the OUA semi-final after suffering a 26-16 loss to the Western Mustangs. The team will look to avenge their playoff exit when they visit Western for their season opener on September 1st.
For 2010, on offence Laurier added to a deep receiving core in both recruits and transfers. All-Canadian Dillon Heap will continue to lead the charge after being first in the CIS in all-purpose yards. The offensive line has been bolstered by SFU transfer Ben Davidson as well as a strong recruiting class. Expect fierce competition for starting spots in the backfield with three legitimate starters at the quarterback position as well as question marks at both full and running back.
The team returns eight of 12 starters on defence and adds depth with several University of Waterloo transfers. Free safety transfer Mitch Nicholson will fill the void left by the departure of Courtney Stephen, further solidifying the secondary. David Montoya returns for his fifth season and adds both leadership and experience to the defensive line.
The team loses two defensive players to the professional ranks this season with fourth years Taurean Allen and Chima Ihekwoaba signing offers. Allen is currently on the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders roster while Ihekwoaba is with the NFL’s Detroit Lions.
Look for the purple and gold to continue to rely on their strong defence early in the season while the offence works to find its rhythm.
Head coach Gary Jeffries on the 2010 Team: I’m really excited about 2010. It’s a very young football team, but the last three years have been great recruiting classes. We’re young and very talented and the additional players from the University of Waterloo have given us great depth.”
2009 in review:
2009 regular season record: 6-2
2009 regular season standings: 2nd
2009 playoff record: 0-1
2009 playoff finish: Lost 26-16 to Western in OUA semi-final
Head Coach – Gary Jeffries
Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2010):9
Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2010): 9
Career regular season record with team: 47-9
Career regular season record in CIS: 47-9
Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only):57-15
Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 57-15
Head coach Gary Jeffries on the 2010 Offence: “We have to be good up front and we lost a number of kids, but there are some players who will step up. Our focus on recruiting was the offensive line and we have six stellar people. It’s a group that has to roll, it has to be competitive and it has to be athletic and I think we have that group.
Key returning players:
REC Dillon Heap (Waterloo, Ont.) returns for his fourth season. Heap set the CIS record for punt return yards with 912 en route to being named an OUA first team all-star twice and a first team CIS all-Canadian. The team MVP also earned the President’s Award and the Athletics Academic award. This Business major also led the team in receiving yards with 592.
OL Michael Knill (Rochester Hills, MI) returns for his second season at Laurier. This MBA student who has previously played as a walk on at Michigan State and the University of Michigan will be a key component of the offensive line this season.
REC Alex Anthony (Victoria B.C.) will join the Hawks for his second year after earning team rookie of the year honours. In his first season with Laurier, Anthony finished third in receiving yards with 307 and tied for third in points scored with 26 (4 TDs, 1 2PT).
QB Evan Pawliuk (Kingston, Ont.) returns for his fourth season with the program. Pawliuk took over the reins after Luke Thompson suffered a season ending injury. He compiled 1457 yards and eight TD’s.
Key recruits (or newcomers: transfers):
WR Dustin Zender (Waterloo, Ont.) joins the Golden Hawks for his first season. This University of Waterloo transfer will be in his fourth year of eligibility. He led the Warriors last season in receiving yards with 591.
OL Ben Davidson (Burnaby, B.C.) this SFU transfer joins the purple and gold for his first season. Multi-talented and very versatile, Ben is capable of playing multiple positions along the offensive line.
QB Shane Kelly (New York, NY) an MBA student, who will start his first season with Laurier. As a true freshman he dressed every game as a backup QB for Temple University. He then transferred to Columbia and became their starter. With great size, an incredible knowledge of the game and an ability to run the most complicated of offences look for Kelly to compete from day one.
OL Adam Bestard was a second team all-star. He was selected 27th overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
FB Peter Quinney, another fifth year player, was a key blocking presence for the offence. He is currently playing for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts.
K/P Chris Mamo completed his fifth season after setting Laurier’s scoring record at 270 points. A staple on special teams, he will be missed as a leader both on and off the field.
Head coach Gary Jeffries on the 2010 Defence: “We have a lot of returning kids that are very quick. We have some athletic defensive ends so we are pretty excited about the front.”
Key returning players:
LB Giancarlo Rapanaro (Niagara Falls, Ont.) will return for his fifth season after trying out with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Last season Rapanaro was a key cog in the defence, leading the team in sacks with 4.5 and finishing third in tackles with 37.5.
LB Mitchell Bosch (Lanley, B.C.) enters his third season with the purple and gold. A team captain on the defence, Bosch was second on the squad in tackles with 42.5.
DL Paul Hancock (Cochrane, Alta.) returns for his fifth and final season for the Golden Hawks. The Alberta native was fifth in tackles on the team in 2009 and was named an OUA first team all-star.
DL Stephen Cormack (Waterloo, Ont.) joins Laurier for a fourth season after being named a 2009 OUA first team all-star. Last season he set a career high with four sacks, which was good for second on the team.
Key recruits (or newcomers: transfers):
DB Dan Harriss (London, Ont.) is a dominant high school and OVFL player. He has great instincts on the field and reputation as a big play maker. He led the OVFL in interceptions.
DB Pat Mcgarry (Waterdown, Ont.) joins the Golden Hawks for his fifth year of CIS football as a transfer from the University of Waterloo. While with the Warriors, Mcgarry had 21.5 tackles.
FS Mitch Nicholson (Grand Haven, MI.) will suit up for the purple and gold after spending his previous three seasons with the University of Waterloo. Nicholson led the Warriors with 58 tackles.
DL Chima Ihekwoaba signed as a free agent with the NFL’s Detroit Lions on May 2nd, 2010. He dressed in 17 games for the Hawks and compiled 37 tackles and four sacks.
CB Taurean Allen played for the Golden Hawks for four seasons. He was drafted by the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders and was signed on May 17th, 2010. He was a three time OUA first team all-star.
FS Courtney Stephen has accepted an offer to NCAA Div 1 Northern Illinois after two seasons with the purple and gold. His older brother spent his football career there.
DL Kyle Ardill this fourth year heart and soul player was a key staple on the defensive line. He dressed in 13 games and compiled 26 tackles in his career.
August 22, 2010
WATERLOO — Dave Montoya’s career aspirations are as relentless as his pursuit of opponents on the gridiron.
The 27-year-old former Laurier Golden Hawk became a current Hawk last week when he returned to the team’s training camp after nearly a four-year hiatus.
Montoya is back to give his teaching career a boost and, in part, he says because he couldn’t bear that his career had come to a screeching halt with the shattered left wrist he suffered early in the 2006 season.
“I always remember the doctor telling me I’d never play football again,” said Montoya, a bruising rush end who was named the Hawks’ defensive MVP in their championship run at the 2005 Vanier Cup.
“Four years later, I’ve got reinforced steel wrists. It’s beautiful.”
The Burlington product will continue his full-time job teaching phys-ed at Bishop Reding High School in Milton while he takes a pair of on-line courses and attends a Tuesday night business class this fall at Laurier.
The credits will likely lead to an MBA, a degree he said which could lead to a job in school administration.
In the meantime, the Hawks say they are thrilled to have Montoya back after he participated in the team’s winter workouts.
“He was one of the best there,” said Hawks head coach Gary Jeffries. “It was amazing. There was no drop off from the day he left.”
While he was gone, Montoya also coached Bishop Reding’s football team, though he’s now on sabbatical from that assignment, leaving former Hawks David Agro and Lee Cond in charge.
“I’ve always told my players that coaching might be the greatest job in the world but that I was jealous of them because they got to play the game.
“To be able to do this one last chance is outstanding.”
That sort of perspective should be a valuable asset for the Hawks, too.
“The thing I really look forward to is (Montoya’s) leadership. He’s a real team guy,” said Jeffries. “He’s tasted it. He knows what it takes.”
Montoya was one of the first Hawks to greet the team’s eight University of Waterloo transfers when camp opened last week.
Those clean former Warriors crossed the street after UW’s senior administration cancelled the squad’s competitive season in the wake of a steroid scandal.
“It’s sad what happened to those (UW) guys. It’s almost as if the Laurier team shut down and we would have to go play for Western. That’s what it was like for them to come play for us,” said Montoya.
“For them to be able to show up here takes real guts.”
Montoya won’t play alongside his younger brother this season.
Mike Montoya, a conference all-star tailback for the Hawks in 2009, abruptly departed Laurier at the conclusion of the season.
“He’s done here at Laurier. I think he’s looking at switching programs,” said Dave who reported that Mike is now working as a personal trainer.
Laurier’s camp continues until Aug. 26.
The Hawks open their regular season on Sept. 1 in London against the Western Ontario Mustangs.
August 21, 2010
WATERLOO, ON — It’s raining football players at Wilfrid Laurier University.
The Golden Hawks are the giddy recipients of several noteworthy transfers this season.
The list of newcomers includes eight players from the suspended University of Waterloo Warriors; receiver Mark Surya who won a Vanier Cup with Queen’s University last season; and offensive lineman Ben Davidson from British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University.
But few Laurier fall arrivals are more intriguing than American quarterback Shane Kelly who landed on the Hawks’ doorstep last week.
The Basking Ridge, N.J., native boasts legitimate Div. I experience as a backup at Temple University in his freshman season and then, Kelly won the starter’s job as a junior at Columbia University in 2008.
“Oh, Shane’s a big, strong kid who’s obviously been extremely well coached and has very good fundamentals,” said Hawks head coach Gary Jeffries.
Kelly, 24, missed last season at Columbia due to mononucleosis, and has enrolled in Laurier’s MBA program.
Since he used up his NCAA eligibility last year, Kelly began to examine his options north of the border.
“I found Laurier . . . Right from the start, I had a good feeling.
“And here I am,” said Kelly, a six-foot-four, 230 pounder, known for his lively arm and big-time experience.
In eight Ivy League games two seasons ago, he threw for 1,199 yards and rushed for another 283 yards.
On Friday, Kelly hit the field for the first as a Hawk along with his fellow transfers and the team’s freshmen.
“I’m on Cloud Nine. I’m so excited to be here, to play football and experience a new lifestyle in a new country,” he said after his workout at University Stadium.
Of course, Kelly still has to win the starter’s assignment over Laurier incumbents Evan Pawliuk and Luke Thompson.
And he’ll need to make some adjustments to the gridiron’s Canadian variety.
“The game up here is a quarterback’s dream,” Kelly said.
“You’ve got forward motion, five receivers going out all the time, a big field, lots of passing. It’s just great.”
Laurier’s training camp, 102-players strong, continues until Aug. 26.
The 6-2 (won-lost) Hawks finished second in the Ontario University Athletics conference last season before they bowed out to the Western Mustangs in a league semifinal.
Laurier’s home opener is Sept. 11 vs. the University of Toronto.
(Photo: Peter Lee, The Record)
August 20, 2010
While a formal announcement has yet to be made, Antoine Shaw - the agent for former Golden Hawk Andrew Dietrich - has announced that his client has signed a two-year deal with the B.C. Lions.
According to Shaw, Dietrich will now join the Lions' practice roster.
The former offensive lineman for the Hawks spent five years with the team and was on the 2005 Yates and Vanier Cup winning squad.
August 20, 2010
WATERLOO, ON - University of Waterloo coach Joe Paopao will be a guest observer for Wilfrid Laurier University to mentor the Hawks quarterbacks coach before the start of the Warrior training camp. The UW camp starts a week after Laurier's. As well Laurier head coach Gary Jeffries will be a guest coach at some of the Warriors training camps. This is an example of the two programs helping each other out which is common in football circles, and particularly between Waterloo and Laurier over the years.
Head coaches Gary Jeffries and Dennis McPhee have a tremendously supportive relationship as do athletic directors Peter Baxter and Bob Copeland which is somewhat unique in university circles given the schools geography. The swim team and the pool situation is another example where Laurier varsity athletes and coaches trained at Waterloo.
August 20, 2010
WATERLOO, ON — Eight carefree young men yanked opened the doors at Wilfrid Laurier’s University Stadium this week and bounded straight into the rest of their lives.
“I’m so happy. This is our future,” said an exhilarated Dustin Zender, one of eight clean former University of Waterloo Warriors who crossed the street to play football for the WLU Golden Hawks this season.
“Things happen for a reason. Don’t they?”
Laurier’s football team opened training camp this week with a sizeable chunk of the Warriors’ foundation, even former Warriors assistant coach Carl Zender, in the Hawks’ midst.
A couple months ago, the notion of the fiercely loyal Warriors bolting their school to play for their city rivals seemed preposterous.
But that was before everything changed.
In March, a police investigation uncovered a suspected steroid trafficking ring in the Warriors’ locker room.
UW then ordered team-wide drug testing which revealed nine drug cheats on the Warriors.
Two Warriors were charged with trafficking performance-enhancing drugs.
And all of it led to UW’s decision to suspend the Warriors’ 2010 season.
But on Thursday, it was backslaps and smiles all around for the War-Hawks, including Zender and fellow receiver Cory Allen; defensive backs Patrick McGarry and Mitch Nicholson; offensive lineman Matt Vonk; and defensive linemen Steve Ples, Andrew Heeley and Will Flesher.
The eight gathered on Thursday with the rest of Laurier’s football players to have their team photos taken.
The joyful scene at WLU’s stadium gym was a far cry from the enduring image of the Warriors earlier this summer.
In June, the Warriors called a news conference where three of the team’s captains, tears in their eyes, pleaded with UW’s senior administration to salvage their season for the sake of the Warriors’ 53 clean players.
“I’m through with that,” said Zender, one of the Warriors’ most vocal leaders through the quagmire that was the team’s off-season.
At last count, 21 of them, including 19 of the Warriors’ starters, will be wearing someone else’s colours this season.
Canadian Interuniversity Sport cleared a path for the clean Warriors to transfer by waiving the rule that ordinarily requires a transferring player to sit out a season.
As another bonus for the UW transfers, a visiting student provision between the Waterloo schools means many of the ex-UW players can play for the Hawks and take courses at both universities’ campuses.
UW’s internal review, released this week, appeared to vindicate the clean players who maintained they were punished unfairly because they knew little about the steroids that infiltrated their locker room.
“All I can say now is I did my part,” said McGarry. “Our seniors did their part. Everyone has their own choices to make and sometimes they are bad ones.”
The eight former Warriors’ biggest worry on Thursday appeared to be how to leave a good impression with their new coaches and teammates.
Not to worry, said Laurier’s head coach Gary Jeffries.
“We are thrilled to have them,” said Jeffries, whose already good team gets that much better with the eight new arrivals.
“They are character kids. There’s bound to be some concern on their part when you come over and it’s new. But it won’t be long.
“When we leave our room for our team meeting (Thursday), we will all be Golden Hawks.”
UW transfer Mitch Nicholson said Laurier’s coaches and players have seen to it that the ex-Warriors’ transition was seamless.
“Everyone has been so good to us. I already feel like one of the guys,” said Nicholson. “That’s pretty good.”
McGarry said he can’t wait for what happens next.
“We did write our own chapter. Hopefully, it wasn’t as exciting as the one we will write this fall,” said the fifth-year senior.
Laurier’s camp continues until Aug. 26.
The Hawks open their regular season on Sept. 1 in London against the Western Ontario Mustangs.
(Photo: The Record Staff)
August 20, 2010
Former Laurier defensive end Chima Ihekwoaba (far right) at Detroit Lions' practice along with RB Javhid Best (left) and DE Jason Hunter (centre).
August 18, 2010
As soon as the University of Waterloo announced that it was suspending its entire football program, Carl Zender resigned as the Warriors' receivers coach to lead an appeal. Now, with that appeal having failed, Zender has joined his son Dustin along with seven other former UW players in becoming a Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawk.
"Carl was certainly distraught with what had happened over at Waterloo," said Laurier manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. "He felt very strongly that the kids should be able to get an opportunity elsewhere and he wanted to do the same thing"
With Laurier already having two receivers coaches on staff in Steven Frake and Bob Clapperton, Zender will join the Hawks as an offensive quality control coach, working under offensive co-ordinator Ryan Pyear. But on top of his football expertise, Jeffries believes Zender can also help the newest Hawks get accustomed to their new team.
"He'll be a wonderful transition piece and a familiar face for the kids from Waterloo," said Jeffries. "At the same time we saw him as a guy who could really help us offensively, another set of eyes, bringing in some new ideas from another program, certainly someone we could learn from."
It has also been rumoured that Warriors' offensive co-ordinator Joe Paopao -who has worked for four different CFL teams, including serving as the head coach of the B.C. Lions and Ottawa Renegades- would also be joining the Hawks' staff. However, Jeffries would not comment on that matter and Paopao currently remains as one of the UW coaches who was put on paid administrative leave when the program was suspended.
In addition to the new coach in Zender, three more former UW players have joined the WLU roster. After Dustin Zender -a former provincial all-star at receiver-, defensive end Andrew Heely and defensive backs Patrick McGarry, Mitch Nicholson and Cory Allen joined the Hawks earlier this summer, Jeffries confirmed that defensive tackles Steven Ples and Will Fletcher as well as offensive lineman Matt Vonk will also be also be donning purple and gold in 2010.
While there was the potential for as many as 11 former Warriors to join the Hawks roster, Jeffries believes that these eight players will be the final additions to the team prior to training camp, which is set to open tomorrow at University Stadium.
August 18, 2010
(Video: Laurier Athletics)
July 28, 2010
In early July, Laurier’s athletics department announced the 2010 class of inductees for the Golden Hawk hall of fame. Two members of Laurier’s 2005 Vanier Cup winning football team – Ryan Pyear and Ian Logan – headline the group, joined by another football player in Ryan Jeffrey.
Also being inducted will be former women’s rugby star Christine Caruthers, as well as Jason Lyall who played on the Hawks’ 2001 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champion men’s soccer team.
Meanwhile, Tom Allen will go into the hall of fame as a builder for his contributions to Laurier’s football program, while the 2000 men’s soccer team –who also won the CIS title – will be this year’s team inductees.
The class will be inducted as part of Laurier’s homecoming celebration on Oct. 1.
July 28, 2010
After the steroid scandal that caused the University of Waterloo to suspend their football program for the 2010 season, the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) has been testing Laurier football players throughout the summer.
To this point, five Hawks have taken unannounced tests at their summer residences with none of them testing positive for any banned substances.
The Hawks were originally supposed to be tested on March 31 along with UW, Guelph and McMaster, however the CCES officials failed to show up at the stadium where the team was practicing.
July 27, 2010
At this time last year, Peter Quinney was unsure if he’d ever get another chance to play in the CFL.
After being drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Laurier alumnus had failed to crack the team’s final roster and was heading back to Waterloo to play his final year of eligibility with the Golden Hawks.
“I was certainly hopeful, but you’re never sure you’ll get another shot,” said Quinney. “You think you deserve one, but you never really know if it’s going to come… But in the end, leaving Winnipeg turned out to be a blessing in disguise.”
Not making the Blue Bombers’ final roster has turned out to be a blessing indeed for Quinney. It enabled the fullback and special teams stand-out to return to Laurier and play a big leadership role in the Hawks’ 6-2 season, graduate from teacher’s college and finally get that elusive second chance at the CFL, signing with the Toronto Argonauts last January.
Originally signed to the Argos’ practice squad, Quinney has made the most of this opportunity, not only making the roster out of training camp, but dressing and playing on several of the squad’s special teams units in every game since week two.
“Sometimes I still feel like a giddy little kid who just went out and made his first play,” said Quinney. “Being able to go out on that field as an Argo and play in the CFL can be pretty surreal. But at the same time, it’s a very high-stress environment. You’re always working to get better, the next game, the next series, the next play, so there’s really not much time to stop and smell the roses.”
Since arriving in Toronto, Quinney has been mentored by several veteran players, such as fellow Canadian fullbacks Jeff Johnson and Bryan Crawford.
“I really look to both those guys to see how they work and get clarification on certain things, and they’re always willing to help,” said Quinney. “I’ve been very fortunate to be around guys like that.”
Quinney has also received guidance from current Argos’ special teams co-ordinator and CFL legend Mike O’Shea.
“That’s definitely one of those really cool things because when I was a kid I would go to Argos games and cheer on Mike O’Shea and now we’re sitting down and watching film together,” said Quinney.
“The man’s experience on the field sure does come right through when he’s coaching. He can make really complicated things seem very simple, and he never puts too much pressure on you.”
Although he now plays in Toronto, Quinney has very much kept Waterloo in his life. The 24-year-old still lives in KW, commuting daily to the Argos’ practice facility in Mississauga.
“It definitely makes for some early mornings,” said Quinney of adding the drive to the exhausting schedule of a professional football player.
“But it’s definitely nice to be back in Waterloo with my girlfriend and be able to go there and relax.”
However, a demanding schedule is nothing new to Quinney as last year he had to juggle playing for the Hawks, 40 hours of class per week, as well as a work placement, while earning his teaching degree from Laurier’s junior/intermediate education program.
Despite making the CFL, Quinney doesn’t plan on giving up his aspirations to become a teacher. He currently sits on the short-list for the Waterloo Region’s supply teaching board and intends to teach while playing professional football.
(Photo: Yusuf Kidwai, The Cord)
July 27, 2010
On June 14, the football players of the University of Waterloo seemed to have their 2010 season ripped away from them. After nine players on the team had tested positive for steroid use, the school made the unprecedented decision to suspend the football program for an entire year, and the over 50 innocent players were left to guess whether or not they would be able to transfer to another school before the opening of training camp on Aug. 19.
Two days after the decision to suspend the program was announced the Warriors received a respite in the news that they would be allowed to transfer, providing their academic credits would translate. A mass exodus of football players from UW began and five players have landed with the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks.
“Initially, it’s a little weird because we are rivals, but in the end we all love to play football, and everyone should have the right to play the sport that they love,” said receiver Dustin Zender, one of the Warriors-turned-Hawks.
“When it comes down to something like this, you’re not enemies any more… and everyone I’ve met so far has been really welcoming and supportive.”
Joining Zender – who was a provincial all-star in 2008 – will be defensive backs Patrick McGarry, Mitch Nicholson and Cory Allen, as well as defensive end Andrew Heeley. According to Laurier’s head coach and manager of football operations Gary Jeffries, there could be as many as five more former Warriors added to the Hawks’ roster before the opening of training camp.
“There are kids that we’ve committed to and told them that we’d help them if we can,” said Jeffries. “If they do end up transferring, that’s great, but it’s not like we expected them to start with.”
In Zender, McGarry, Nicholson and Heeley, the Hawks have added both talent and experience. Allen comes to the team entering his second-year after being a highly-touted prospect coming out of high school.
The addition of the three defensive backs will serve an immediate need for the purple and gold’s defence as the team lost a pair of key contributors this off-season in corner back Taurean Allen and safety Courtney Stephen. Allen was drafted by the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, while Stephen has transferred to the University of Northern Illinois.
“[The former Warriors] have a great amount of experience and we’ve had some great coaches in the past,” said McGarry.
“Whether it’s starting or playing on special teams, I’m just looking to help this team win games, any way I can.”
The close proximity between Laurier and UW certainly played a role in the players’ decisions. Both Zender and McGarry will be attending WLU as visiting students, taking credits at Laurier to finish their programs at UW, enabling them to still receive a degree from Waterloo.
“On top of the academic aspect, still being able to see my friends, still being able to play in front of my family, was a big reason why I wanted to come to Laurier,” said Zender.
With training camp still a few weeks away, the newest Hawks have only been able to participate in team running workouts. However, that has been enough to get them excited about the upcoming season.
“The chances of winning Vanier are a big reason I came to Laurier and I think we’ve got a great team here,” said McGarry. “This is a team that has a winning mentality, and with the talent that’s coming from Waterloo it’s just really exciting. All I’ve been able to think about is that first game on Sept. 1 against Western.”
June 21, 2010
HAMILTON, ON - In response to the University of Waterloo's announcement on the suspension of its football program from competition for the 2010 season, Ontario University Athletics (OUA) has updated its original schedule to ensure competitive balance among the nine remaining schools. Each team will face each other once during the regular season, with four home and four away games.
The original eight-week regular season schedule has been expanded to nine weeks, with opening day slated for Wednesday, Sept. 1. Games against original 2010 non-combatants will take place on this date. This ensures that every school will play an eight-game regular season schedule while keeping the current playoff structure of two quarter-finals, two semifinals and Yates Cup championship intact. The top six teams make the post-season, with the top two teams earning byes into the semifinals.
The vast majority of the original schedule will remain the same, with the exception of a pair of location changes in games involving the York Lions. York will now host the Guelph Gryphons on Monday, Sept. 6, and visit the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks on Saturday, Sept. 25. Teams playing Waterloo in the original schedule will now receive byes on those weeks. York and Waterloo were originally scheduled as non-combatants in 2010, and as a result, York will receive its bye on opening week.
“The nine OUA football institutions made the best of a difficult situation by keeping the student-athlete in mind,” said OUA executive director Ward Dilse. “By having a balanced regular-season schedule while keeping our current playoff structure, it gives all of our players a fair opportunity to win football’s oldest trophy, the Yates Cup.”
Schools will have choice to begin training camps on Friday, Aug. 20 or Saturday Aug. 21, with medicals for student-athletes taking place the day before.
“This has been a unique situation for OUA,” said OUA president Gord Grace. “I salute our football universities for coming together to resolve this scheduling issue quickly and in the best interest of our student-athletes.”
The OUA quarter-finals will take place on Saturday, Oct. 30 followed by the OUA semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 6. The OUA football season concludes at the 103rd Yates Cup presented by Pioneer Petroleums on Saturday, Nov. 13.
*WLU's complete schedule can be scene on under the '2010 schedule' link on the sidebar menu.
June 1, 2010
WINNIPEG, MB - The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have added non import linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro to their roster today.
Rapanaro played four years with the Golden Hawks, starting his last three at linebacker. He’s coming off his best season where he registered 37.5 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one forced fumble and three interceptions on his way to being named an OUA First Team All-Star and a Second Team All-Canadian. In his first full season starting, Rapanaro was tied for second in the league with eight sacks and also recovered two fumbles returning one of them for a touchdown.
The Bombers have also announced that Winnipeg Rifles receiver Yembeh Moiba will be practicing with the team during training camp. The Kelvin High School grad is in his second year with the Rifles and will gain experience participating in a professional training camp.
May 31, 2010
HAMILTON, ON – The Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced today that the team has added Dwayne Cameron to the coaching staff as Assistant Coach, Special Teams and Defence.
Dwayne Cameron joins the Tiger-Cats staff after six seasons on the coaching staff at Wilfrid Laurier as the Golden Hawks’ Strength and Conditioning and Defensive Backs Coach. Prior to joining Wilfrid Laurier, Cameron served as Defensive Coordinator at St. James High School in Guelph and also served as the Interim Strength and Conditioning Coach for the NBA’s Toronto Raptors in 2002.
The Ticats also announced that Donnavan Carter and Blair Thompson will join the team as guest coaches at training camp.
Carter is currently the Defensive Coordinator at the University of Toronto. Before joining the coaching ranks, Carter spent eight years in the CFL as a linebacker with the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Rough Riders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was named a team captain and defensive MVP during his collegiate career at Northern Illinois.
Thompson is currently the Running Backs Coach with the Regina Rams. He has also served as a guest coach with the Ticats in 2009 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at their 2004 and 2005 training camps. He played with the Regina Rams for four seasons, capturing three Canadian championships before beginning his coaching career at the high school level and led the Thom Trojans to three provincial championships.
May 18, 2010
The Canadian Press
CALGARY, AB - The Calgary Stampeders have signed defensive back Taurean Allen, their second-round pick in the CFL Canadian college draft.
Allen was taken 13th overall in the draft. The 23-year-old Wilfrid Laurier standout was a three-time Ontario University Athletics all-star while with the Golden Hawks, and was invited to play in the 2009 East-West Bowl.
"We were extremely pleased to select Taurean with our second-round draft pick earlier this month and we're naturally thrilled to have him signed for camp," Stampeders head coach and GM John Hufnagel said in a statement. "He's a good player and a top prospect, so we're looking forward to seeing how he stacks up at training camp."
Allen, a Toronto native, had 16.5 tackles, two knockdowns and an interception for the Golden Hawks last season.
May 5, 2010
At five-foot-nine (and a half) and 173 pounds, boy-next-door Dillon Heap must look to the CFL scouts in attendance at this week’s East-West Bowl festivities like a math major who took a wrong turn en route to the University of Western Ontario’s library.
In this age when bad-boy football players grab the headlines, the unassuming Waterloo native blows into our lives like cool breeze.
To watch the lithe Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks receiver/returner play football is like listening to Pavarotti sing, Hendrix strum or James Earl Jones speak.
When Heap gets the ball, the world stops and the show begins.
The former three-sport standout at Waterloo Collegiate juked his way to a Canadian single-season punt return record of 912 yards this past season.
Thanks to his quick feet and signature head fake, Heap jitterbugged to a nation-leading average of 246.4 all-purpose yards per game this past season.
This week’s showcase in London, Ont., which features fitness testing and practices up until Saturday’s game for the 48 players in attendance, is all about dissecting the CFL’s draft class of 2011.
About half of last year’s East-West participants were chosen in the CFL draft this past Sunday. So, players like Heap know it’s go time.
But when it comes to evaluating the Utah-born Heap, those CFL scouts might be best advised to throw away their stopwatches and measuring tapes. Heap’s gift can’t be reduced to mere numbers.
“If the scouts are (only watching Heap’s stats), it’s a huge mistake,” said Gary Jeffries, Heap’s head coach at Laurier and in charge of the West team’s quality control this week.
Heap finished in the middle of the pack among receivers this week in London. He didn’t even attempt the 225-pound bench press that Calgary’s receiver Nathan Coehoorn hoisted 18 consecutive times.
No, the experts haven’t yet devised a test for what Heap has.
“Dillon has tremendous vision and lateral quickness. He’s not going to beat you with his flat-out speed but he sets up his blocks so well,” said Jeffries.
Laurier’s coach said a former Hawks’ great springs to mind when analyzing Heap’s natural ability.
One of the best Golden Hawks ever, Paul Bennett, who went on to set CFL punt-return records en route to becoming a four-time league all-star is a good comparison.
“He’s certainly not as big as Paul, but ability wise, he’s equal,” said Jeffries.
“Dillon’s special. He just jumps off the field when you are watching.”
The East-West Bowl goes Saturday at 1 p.m. at TD Waterhouse Stadium in London.
Other locals in attendance this week include West team members: offensive co-ordinator Ryan Pyear, defensive backs Scott McCahill and Shane Herbert and defensive lineman George Kourtesiotis of Laurier; along with defensive line coach Dennis McPhee, defensive lineman Andrew Heeley, linebacker Mitch Nicholson, receiver Dustin Zender and defensive backs Bashir Moallim and Pat McGarry of the University of Waterloo.
May 3, 2010
The Detroit News
ALLEN PARK, MI - The odds are stacked against most of the 30-plus players who competed in the Lions' rookie minicamp last weekend.
Chima Ihekwoaba understands that as well as anyone. But Ihekwoaba, a defensive end from Burlington, Ontario, is hoping to join a select group of Canadian-born players in the NFL. And he took his first step Sunday, signing a free-agent contract with the Lions after attending camp on a tryout basis. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder was a standout at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, a two-hour drive from Detroit.
There were no players from Canadian universities among the 255 selected in last month's NFL draft. But a half-dozen have signed free-agent deals with NFL teams or accepted tryout offers in the last week. And while Ihekwoaba has other options -- he was selected 14th overall by the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League on Sunday -- he's focused on this land of opportunity for now.
"Not only is it easier now for Canadian players to make it in the NFL, but it makes you more motivated," Ihekwoaba said. "Some guys opened up the door for us. I just want to come in and kick it down. There were some other guys that went to the CFL combine a month ago and they did pretty well, so some of them signed free agent contracts and some of them got tryouts. We're just trying to show that up in Canada we can play football, too."
There's a financial incentive for making it in the NFL, of course. The minimum salary in the NFL this season is $325,000, about three times what a first-round CFL draft pick will make as a rookie.
Ihekwoaba is no stranger to Michigan. He spent last summer working out in Saline with Dr. D.S. Ping, a certified NFL agent and trainer. And for inspiration, he didn't have to look far. Among Ping's other clients are NFL players Israel Idonije (Chicago Bears) -- a defensive end who also came out of the Canadian college ranks -- and Patrick Bailey (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Ihekwoaba missed most of his senior season at Wilfrid Laurier after suffering a serious shoulder injury that required surgery to repair a torn labrum.
"But they fixed it up and it's stronger than ever now," he said.
At last month's CFL combine, Ihekwoaba posted some impressive numbers, including a 41-inch vertical leap -- that would've been the best at his position at the NFL combine -- and a 4.78-second 40-yard dash.
Ihekwoaba drew interest from other NFL teams including Pittsburgh and Miami -- some as a 3-4 outside linebacker -- but opted for a tryout offer from the Lions, at least in part because it's closer to his family's home just outside of Toronto. His father is retired aerospace engineer. His mother is a kindergarten teacher.
Asked if he'd played any hockey growing up, Ihekwoaba laughed.
"Basketball, soccer, track, football," he said, shaking his head. "But no hockey."
And right now, it's just football. He'll join the rest of the rookies in returning to Allen Park May 17 for offseason workouts.
"It's a great opportunity," Ihekwoaba said. "I'm just trying to make the most of it."
(Photo: The Detroit News)
May 3, 2010
TSN/The Canadian Press
POTTAGEVILLE, ON - Taurean Allen was fidgeting on the couch. He slipped quietly out to the porch, but moved back inside after only a few minutes, settling on the main stairwell of his home to stare at the BlackBerry perched between his feet, as if it could be willed into making a sound.
The tension radiated through the house, where three dozen friends and family members had gathered to watch the CFL Canadian College Draft. Allen, a 23-year-old defensive back from Wilfrid Laurier University, had been projected to go in the first round, but was still waiting for a call as the television broadcast crept toward completion on Sunday afternoon.
"At first, I was calm -- I was OK," his mother, Audryanne Wilson, said. "But then, they go into the second round. Second pick ... third pick ... and I'm thinking, 'C'mon what's going on here?"'
With only 20 minutes remaining in the broadcast, facing the ignominy of being forced to follow the remaining four rounds online, Allen's phone finally stirred. The Calgary Stampeders had selected him with their second pick, taking him 13th overall.
The living room erupted. Allen moved into the kitchen, where he shed tears in the arms of his girlfriend, Angie Mennen.
"Relief, excitement, happiness and elation," Allen said. "One of the greatest moments of my life."
Allen was named an OUA first team all-star three times as a defensive back at Wilfrid Laurier. He had entered Sunday's draft ranked as the eighth overall prospect, and was rated the highest at his position.
His agent had assured him that, if Calgary opted not to take him with the fifth overall pick -- which the Stampeders ultimately used to nab kicker Rob Maver (University of Guelph) -- it would definitely take him with the 13th pick.
Calgary finished 10-7-1 last year, falling to Saskatchewan in the West Division Final one year after claiming the sixth Grey Cup title in franchise history.
The Stampeders employ Brandon Browner, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and have not explicitly told Allen how they might plan to use him in the defensive backfield.
In the meantime, Allen, who grew up in west-end Toronto, has been told he will have the chance to play a "large role" on special teams.
"It's looking up," he said. "It looks like I'm going to have a decent role on a team if I go out there and prove myself. I've just got to go out there and compete and earn my spot."
It has already been a busy spring. Allen and his girlfriend moved into a house an hour's drive north of Toronto in the last week of April, days after he had written the final exam for an honour's degree in communications.
The couple moved in with a pair of housemates to help cover the costs, and live around the corner from Mennen's parents and the family-run landscaping company for which she works.
"It's going to be such a new experience," Mennen said. "He finally fulfilled the dream he's always wanted since he started playing football."
She has never been to Calgary, and because of their house and her job, she will have to settle on visits. Mennen will remain in Ontario when Allen moves West to follow his dream, and the couple will have to settle for having their winters to spend together.
His mother will also visit. Wilson said she named her son -- whose first name is pronounced "Toe-ree-an" -- after Taurean Blacque, an actor who played Det. Neal Washington on the popular 1980's television show Hill Street Blues.
"I was hoping it would be closer to home," Wilson said with a smile. "But one thing about that boy, he's flexible. He's adaptable. He'll still come back to this, but I'm sure he'll be very happy in Calgary -- and I know that the Calgary Stampeders are getting a great player, and he's worth the wait."
A clip of the Allen household on Draft Day
April 5, 2010
WATERLOO, Ont. – Monday evening Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Athletics and Recreation hosted its annual athletic banquet recognizing the achievements of its coaches, players and staff at the Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex. 24 Rookies and MVPs were recognized for their performance on their respective teams.
The department also awarded its twelve major awards to acknowledge contributors and outstanding athletes at Laurier.
The President’s Award is for the most outstanding athletic performance from a male and female over the past year.
This year’s recipients are Dillon Heap and Liz Knox.
Knox, a fourth year sociology student was named a first-team All-Canadian – and was also named both the CIS & OUA Player of the Year in Women’s Hockey. While being first in the OUA in save percentage, this team netminder helped lead her team to a seventh consecutive OUA Championship.
Heap is a third year business student from Waterloo. Named a 1st Team All-Canadian, Heap was also a two time OUA all-star for both receiving and special teams.
He led the nation in all-purpose yards and set a CIS record in punt return yardage in seven games.
The two winners move on to represent Laurier as nominees for Ontario University Athletics’ players of the year.
The Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award honours the male and female athlete who best combines academic and athletic achievement.
This year’s recipients are Dillon Heap and Liz Knox who also both claimed the President’s award.
Heap is a member of the Golden Hawk football team and posted a 10.13 GPA (out of 12) as a Business major. On the field, this receiver led the team in receiving yardage. Knox, the goalie for Laurier’s provincial champion women’ hockey team has a 9.2 GPA in Sociology.
More recently, this Stouffville native also claimed bronze at the CIS championship and received the 2010 Outstanding Women of Laurier Award.
(Photo: Laurier Athletics)
April 3, 2010
WATERLOO, ON - Long time Laurier Football Equipment Manager Chuck Classen passed away on Tuesday, March 30th. He was 66.
Starting out as a volunteer student manager with Don Smith’s basketball team in 1970, Classen continued to find ways to contribute to Laurier (then Waterloo Lutheran University). Graduating from Laurier in 1971 he eventually moved into the position of equipment manager for the men’s football team while also teaching at several local schools. After retirement, he continued to be a staple for the football program, keeping them organized and on track for both the 1991 and 2005 national championships.
"Chuck has been a mentor to many students over his 40 years of involvement with the program," said Director of Athletics & Recreation Peter Baxter. "His contributions at Laurier have left an indelible impression on everyone he has come into contact with."
The department of Athletics & Recreation will be naming the Team Manager of the Year Award in his honour.
He leaves behind his wife of 42 years; Wendy, his children; Jeff and his wife Vanessa, Micki and her husband Sean, and grandchildren; Halia, Keely, and Jackson.
There will be a memorial celebration at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 110 Manitou Dr. in Kitchener on Sunday, April 11th from 2 to 4 p.m. Family and friends are invited to attend the celebration of the life of Chuck Classen.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like to encourage a donation to the Hamilton General Hospital ICU or the K.W. Optimist club by contacting the Erb & Good Family Funeral Home , 171 King St. S., Waterloo at www.erbgood.com or 519-745-8445.
Click here to access the memorial webpage established by WLU.
(Photo: Laurier Athletics)
February 1, 2010
Freshman Alex Anthony will go down in the Laurier history books after this weekend.
The first year wide receiver has been the only member of athletics to represent an international World team, and what’s more, to be given the prestigious honors of wearing a captain’s ‘C’.
Saturday January 30th, the first ever Team World versus Team USA match-up took place in Fort Lauderdale, FLA and saw the traditional powerhouse U.S. team fight a hard fought battle to ensure their 17-0 victory.
The majority of the 19 and under 45-man roster have already committed to some of the top schools in the nation, but the World team including players from Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Japan, American Samoa, France, and Mexico ensured it was a close contest.
“Given the circumstances they played a heck of a game,” commented head coach Jan Jenmert. “We prepared for an offensive strategy, but we had to change our plan with the loss of several key players.”
Injury, penalties and turnovers proved to be critical factors in Team World’s loss. Defensive line Jesse Williams of Australia went down early during only the third play of the game, while fullback James Sifakis from Canada was lost later on in the second quarter.
“The [USA] thought it was going to be a big blow out,” said Anthony. “But we competed on all levels: offense, defense and specials team.”
Anthony was one of four captains – Dillion Guy (Canada), Byron Perez Archambault (Canada), and Beck Coulter (American Samoa) served as the remaining three to make their way on field for the coin toss ceremony.
Hosting the toss were NFL commissioner Roger Goodall, and honorary players Mosi Tatupu, Jonathan Fanene, and Dwight Stephenson.
“He’s been a tremendous receiver for us,” said Jenmert on Anthony. “He’s been an important part of the team, and is one of the hardest working guys out there.”
The international squad started the game off strong, moving the ball around confidently the majority of the first quarter.
However, quarterbacks Jeremi Doyon-Roch (Canada) and Brandon Bridge (Canada) soon began to struggle. Bridge had two interceptions that hurt the team’s offensive strategy, while Doyon-Roch had difficulty finding his target, including four incomplete passes to Anthony.
U.S. quarterbacks Mark Myers and Tyler Smith on the other hand, both had strong performances. Myers completed seven of ten pass attempts for 79 yards overall, with Smith completing five of ten for 105 yards.
In the first half of the game, Team USA closed in on field goal range, but kicker Ben Hopfinger’s attempt was denied by a huge block from German defensive end Bjoern Werner.
Smith went on to make a 50-yard pass to Josh Reese that would have scored had World tackle Dylan Hollohan not taken him down at the one-yard. After a fumble, Reese went on to recover the ball and scored with only nine seconds left in the first half, putting Team USA up 7-0.
Team USA used speed and athleticism to their advantage in the second half of the game.
Running back Dontae Williams rushed in to score the second touchdown for his team, with Hopfinger kicking for the extra point. Linebacker Mike Hull intercepted on a play by Doyon-Roch, maintaining possession and Hopfinger went on to complete a 40-yard field goal.
“I was pretty disappointed with how it turned out,” said Anthony. “But we defiantly came out to play.”
MVP for Team World was running back Hampus Hellermark, while Hull took the honors for the Team USA.
(Photo: Tieja MacLaughlin)
October 20, 2009
The Haliburton Echo
To see the complete article, please click on the links here and here to save, print and read.
September 23rd, 2009
Ken Evraire is back in football.
No, the nine-year CFL receiver with Hamiton, Ottawa and Saskatchewan isn’t about to emerge from his 15-year retirement.
Instead, he’s saving his body and using his football smarts to be one of the quickly assembled coaches who put together the Merivale Marauders varsity football team earlier this month.
Evraire, 44, hadn’t planned to get involved in coaching a high school team. It just happened by accident.
He was out for a walk in his neighbourhood with his wife Pam and six-month-old son Elijah, when he bumped into Jim Chiarelli, who coached high school, university and junior football for 25 years. Chiarelli told Evraire he was assisting two former student-athletes to get the Merivale program off the ground for this season.
But he added he couldn’t commit past the first game and suggested Evraire fill the void, if it fit his schedule.
“I didn’t expect to be coaching,” said Evraire, who was a three-time OUA first-team all-star and a two-time CIS All-Canadian as a slotback with the Wilfrid Laurier University Golden Hawks.
“They needed a coach to keep the team alive. It was lucky I had some time on my hands and I could help out.”
In his two weeks with the Marauders, Evraire was the offensive coach last week and is the defensive co-ordinator this week. He also coaches special teams.
After Andrew Horwood and former All-Canadian Dave Harr got the Marauders football team going at the last possible moment, Chiarelli did a favour for his two former players, but said he only could coach until the start of the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association senior football season.
“It has been fun. High school athletes today are quite different than when I played,” said Evraire, who played one year at Brookfield High School and community football for the Nepean Norsemen and Ottawa Sooners. “You must keep them motivated and connected.
“They’re getting better each day. My big thing at this level is to coach and prepare them for the next level. It’s a varsity team with Grade 9 and Grade 10 students. You coach them to protect themselves. You teach the kids the basics. They’re willing to learn and soak it up.”
Evraire, a former TV sportscaster at the A Channel who now works at Hill & Knowlton, has even taken his commitment a step farther. He has purchased Merivale Marauders T-shirts for the players as a team-bonding measure.
Horwood wasn’t sure Merivale would even have a football team a the start of the school year because of a lack of coaches. But after the opening five practices, fitting players with equipment and collecting registration fees, Horwood, who was flying by the seat of his pants, had a football team.
“I committed to coaching last week,” he said in an interview last Friday. “I got Jim Chiarelli, Ken Evraire and Dave Harr. We pulled together a decent staff at the last moment.”
They was certainly enough interest from the student-athletes and enough talent as well.
He had three solid running backs and instead of using two and having one on the sidelines, he installed a wishbone offence, which has all three in the backfield. He also can switch to a West Coast offence, a pass-oriented system.
The Marauders opened their NCSSAA season last Thursday with a win, scoring a last-minute touchdown to beat Holy Trinity Tornadoes 27-20.
September 22, 2009
DJ Bennett from The Score goes one-on-one with Laurier head coach Gary Jeffries, as well as various players, highlighting 'Coach Jeff's' teaching methods.
To view the interview in its entirety, simply click 'play' in the video player below.
September 22, 2009
WATERLOO, ON. - In October, the doors of the Wilfrid Laurier Department of Athletics and Recreation Hall of Fame will once again open to receive seven new members of the Golden Hawk family.
Over Homecoming weekend, five athletes, one builder and the first women’s hockey provincial championship team will be recognized as the members of the 2009 class.
This year’s athletes include Alison Goodman (women’s hockey and soccer), Cathy Ingalls (women’s volleyball), Kate Jackson (women’s rugby), and James Hitchen and Justin Shakell (men’s football) .
Alumnus Bill Ballard will enter the Hall of Fame as a builder and the 1998-1999 women’s hockey team will become the 14th roster inducted.
This year’s Golden Hawk Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, October 2, 2009 at the Senate and Board Chamber at Wilfrid Laurier University. The reception will begin at 6 p.m. and the dinner will follow at 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $65.00 per person. Please join us in celebrating Golden Hawk excellence.
To reserve your seat now, please e-mail email@example.com or purchase them online here. For more information, please contact Heather Ferris at (519) 884-0710 ext. 3289 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s a closer look at the accomplishments of the football Golden Hawks that led to their induction as the Class of 2009:
Justin Shakell arrived at Laurier as a well-rounded multi-sport athlete who had been sought after by countless schools in the OUA to play defensive lineman for their football programs.
Justin dressed every game during his freshman year and was one of the building blocks behind three Yates Cup appearances during his five-year career. On the defensive side of the ball his impact was felt in many ways. Justin was second on the team with three sacks that year and his locker room presence and leadership continued to grow earning him the 2001 football Most Valuable Player award.
In the next season he was recognized as an OUA first team all-star. In his final year Justin was a key contributor to the trip to the Yates Cup for the Golden Hawks. That year he was a team captain and earned both OUA first team all-star and CIS first team all-Canadian honours as well as his second Laurier football Most Valuable Player award.
James Hitchen excelled as an offensive lineman with the Golden Hawks football program for four years. James came in and worked hard in training camp, earning a starting position during his freshman year. He would go on to maintain this position throughout his entire career.
His efforts on the offensive line earned him the Laurier football Rookie of the Year award in 1997. In his third season, James was named an OUA second team all-star and helped Laurier reach the Yates Cup for the first time in four years.
His final season was in 2000 and James was named one of the team’s captains. In the same year, the Golden Hawks again made it to the Yates Cup and James’ superb play not only earned him an OUA first team all-star award but he was also named a CIS first team all-Canadian.
James continued to work with the Laurier Football program as Offensive Line Assistant Coach from 2003-2005, finally winning both the Yates Cup and the Vanier Cup in 2005.
Bill Ballard has been one of the most influential and important contributors to Wilfrid Laurier University since he was a student at the school in the late 1960s.
Frequently visible in the stands at Laurier Football games, Bill has always been someone who puts others before himself and is described by fellow alumni as being “all about fun and enthusiastic” towards his alma mater.
Bill’s contributions began as the President of the Student Union in 1969 when he convinced the Board of Governors to build an athletics facility on the school’s property at the corner of King and University. The construction of the Athletic Complex would begin in 1973 and was the beginning of what would eventually become the home of Golden Hawk basketball, volleyball, and swimming.
Bill has been one of the most significant contributors to the Golden Hawks over the last 30 years. He was the lead donor in the 2007 University Stadium and Knight-Newbrough Field renovations as well as the construction of Alumni Field.
The Country Road Athletic Bursary fund was created and funded by Bill and he ranks in the Laurier Visionary category for his total support since his graduation.
September 18th, 2009
DJ Bennett from The Score sits down with Laurier second-year receiver Shamawd Chambers and his mother Nancy to talk about life leading up to being regarded as one of the top football players nationwide today.
Shamawd Chambers - #17
Hometown: Markham, ON
September 18th, 2009
Ex-Trojan flying high
Whether he's teaching school at Quinte Mohawk or coaching the offensive line at a Moira Trojans football practice, Belleville native Justin Shakell has similar advice for his young charges.
"Reach for the stars," says the 29-year-old Shakell. "Even if you don't get there, you'll at least get past where you thought you could be."
That's exactly how Shakell felt when he recently learned he'll be inducted into the Wilfrid Laurier University Sports Hall of Fame during special ceremonies Oct. 2 in Waterloo.
Shakell was a six-foot-two, 250-pound All-Canadian and OUA All-Star while playing defensive end from 1999-2003 at WLU and never imagined such an honour awaited him six years after leaving the Golden Hawks football team.
"I didn't really expect it," said Shakell during a lunch break Thursday at Quinte Mohawk. "It's something you never think about. It's nice to know all the hard work paid off and it's quite an honour to be put in that select group. I'm very excited."
Shakell played in three Yates Cup OUA finals while at WLU and was among a star-studded recruiting class from across Ontario that helped rebuild a winning foundation for Golden Hawks football. Along with All-Canadian honours in 2003, Shakell was a two-time OUA All-Star and twice won the Golden Hawks MVP award.
In 2004 he was drafted by the CFL's Hamilton Tiger Cats.
"I enjoyed the whole experience at Laurier," said Shakell. "I enjoyed the whole preparation for a game -- from training camp to getting ready each week while balancing school and your social life. I guess a highlight was beating Queen's in the (2003) Yates Cup semi-finals when (Centennial graduate) Ryan Pyear threw a touchdown in overtime to get us to the finals."
WLU won the Yates Cup one year later.
"It was great to be part of helping to build the attitude and program there," said Shakell. "Our coach, Gary Jeffries, was the first guy at practice and the last guy to leave and we all bought into that. My first year, he slept in the back of his truck during training camp. We saw that and it trickled down to us."
Speaking on the telephone from his WLU office Thursday, Jeffries said Shakell was a joy to coach.
"A special kid and a special athlete," said Jeffries. "Justin's a wonderful young man, a real gem. He was a guy we sure hated to lose. The honour he is receiving is certainly justified. He was a real Golden Hawk -- on and off the field."
Jeffries called Shakell "a tenacious pass rusher who could beat you with strength or speed and was extremely tough too."
Jeffries recalled a game against the McMaster Marauders that captured the essence of Shakell's importance to the Golden Hawks.
"He was rushing the passer and was only about 10 yards away from their quarterback when the guy threw the ball and Justin got up in the air and caught it -- at such short range," said Jeffries. "Then he ran for some big, big yardage. I don't know of too many other defensive ends who would be athletic enough to make that play."
Former Trojans coach Ken Smith, who mentored Shakell in football and basketball at Moira, isn't surprised to hear Jeffries rave about Shakell's athleticism.
"He played football and basketball for me and threw the discus and shot put in track," said Smith. "Justin was outstanding. When he started out, we liked him because of his size. Then, he just kept getting better and better and better. He had an incredible first step for such a big guy. He was solid right from Grade 9 and just got stronger and quicker.
"He worked very hard at his technique and was very coach-able. Justin's a super kid and was well-liked by all his teammates. It's nice to see he's teaching and coaching and we're certainly hoping he'll continue to develop athletes for Moira from Quinte Mohawk.
"His Hall of Fame induction at Laurier is well-deserved. To be named first-string OUA All-Star at defensive end, that's a pretty big deal."
Shakell credits Smith and former Centennial coach Barry Pyear (now an assistant at WLU) for helping him get a solid footing in football.
"It started with Barry driving a bunch of us to Kingston on Saturdays to play minor football (before Belleville had its own league) and then with Ken at high school where he showed you what it took to get to the next level," said Shakell. "Then, when Barry put that Bay of Quinte all-star team together and 14 of us from that team went on to play CIS football. He did a great job of getting us noticed."
Now, Shakell is passing on what he learned from men like Smith, Pyear and Jeffries -- and others -- to what he hopes will be a future generation of standout student-athletes from Quinte Mohawk and Moira.
"I only have one rule in my classroom, and that's to try your best," said Shakell. "I enjoy watching the progression of kids throughout the year, knowing you're responsible for what they're going to get out of their year and seeing what you can get out of them.
"At football practice I tell the kids you've got to train hard and prepare. If I could go back, I'd train harder because my first year at Laurier I felt a little behind. I tell them you're going to make physical and mental mistakes but you've got to get back up and keep going.
"It's nice to be able to give back something to a community that gave me a lot when I was growing up."
August 6th, 2009
Back in the game
Surrey North Delta Leader
When Ed Becker opted to pursue firefighting over professional football as a career goal, the former Surrey Ram probably figured playing competitively on a big stage was behind him.
But this week, the Surrey firefighter is back on the gridiron in an international competition, competing as a member of the Axemen flag football team at the World Police and Fire Games in Burnaby.
“I’ve been with the (Surrey) fire department for three and a half years,” said Becker, who helped form the Axemen while working at many of Surrey’s 18 fire halls.
“I met a lot of guys, and a lot of them have a football or sports background. I kept a mental note of guys who had played, and thought ‘why not?’ ”
Becker teamed up with former Sir Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks teammate Harvey Stables to put the team together.
A place kicker/receiver with the Rams, Becker went on to play five seasons (1998 to 2002) with the Golden Hawks in Waterloo, Ontario, earning second all-star team honours as a kicker in each of his five seasons with the OUA (Ontario Universities Athletics) team. Stables was his teammate for three of those five years in Waterloo.
Ironically, they joke they were traded for each other in February, 2003. Stables, coming off his rookie season as a slotback for the Montreal Alouettes, was traded to the B.C. Lions for a pair of draft picks. Montreal used one of those picks to select Becker in the 2003 CFL draft.
Stables was cut by the Lions, but rather than try to catch on with other CFL teams, the Belleville, Ontario native stayed in the Lower Mainland, settled in North Delta and joined the Vancouver Fire Department. Becker chose a similar path. He was cut by the Alouettes just before the regular season in 2003, then got in contact with the Lions hoping they would take a look.
“They said they didn’t want to carry two kickers, but if there was an injury they would call,” said Becker, now a Langley resident. “But you never know if they would call. And if they did, there was no job security. I didn’t want to put my life on hold for football. My dad was a volunteer firefighter, and I remember the stories he’d tell about going out to a fire. So I went for it.
“It’s still a team environment, you have to have your partner’s back at a fire, you train together. It’s perfect, it’s what I wanted.”
With the World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) being staged locally, Becker saw an opportunity to compete on the gridiron again, and he and his former Golden Hawks teammate began forming the Axemen.
“It was just by chance we ran into each other again. I got in touch with him through Facebook,” said Becker. “Harvey is our contact over in Vancouver. He’s been bringing in some of the players.
“The team is mainly firefighters from Surrey and Vancouver. But there are some from Kelowna, and one is working as a sheriff, another is in corrections.”
And to be better prepared for the WPFG tournament, which began Wednesday and runs through to Saturday afternoon at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, the Axemen have been playing competitively since April.
“I thought if we were going to be competitive, we would have to play in a competitive league,” he said. “So we joined the Vancouver Flag Football League. A lot of guys in that league are former CFLers. And the team that beat us in the semifinals last month is basically the UBC football team.”
Primarily a kicker in junior and university football, Becker is now using his hands more than his foot.
“There’s only punting in flag football, unfortunately. So I have to get the dust off my receiving hands,” he said, adding the flag game is based almost entirely on throwing the ball.
“Flag football is eight-on-eight. There’s three linemen, four receivers and a quarterback. And the lineman can catch. It’s more of a cat and mouse game, you mix it up by throwing to the linemen every now and then.”
Fourteen teams entered the flag football tournament at the WPFG, half from British Columbia, with other teams from Edmonton, Calgary, Hamilton, New York and Finland.
”We’re going against teams like the New York Fire. And they have 10,000 firefighters to choose from,” said Becker. “We have 400 in Surrey, another 800 in Vancouver. But we’re confident we’ll be able to compete.”
(Photo: Boaz Joseph, The Leader)
July 22nd, 2009
CFL recognizes former Hawk
The Cord Weekly
Ian Logan has climbed the ranks from minor league to professional football
Sometimes, with a little hard work and determination, the little guy from the small school makes it in the big leagues. That is exactly what former Laurier Golden Hawk Ian Logan has done.
Entering his fourth year in the Canadian Football League (CFL), Logan has experienced recent success in his new role as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers starting safety. On July 14, Logan was named runner-up for CFL Top Canadian Player of the Week.
“I was excited,” said Logan. “It's the first time I've been recognized by the league. Even though I was runner-up, it was a pretty cool feeling.”
While playing for the Hawks, Logan was part of the 2005 Vanier Cup winning team.
He was named 2003/2004 team MVP and Laurier Athlete of the Week four times. He was also given Ontario University Athletics (OUA) first team all-star nods in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and was named Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) first team All-Canadian in 2004 and 2005.
Looking back at his four years with the Bombers, Logan says there have been many ups and downs along the way.
For him the most challenging difference between playing CFL and university ball is the length of the season.
In the OUA a team will play eight regular season games, with the potential of three playoff games. In the CFL a team plays 18 regular season games, two pre-season games and potentially three playoff games before the Grey Cup.
For Logan, however, this difference has not seemed to hinder his ascension within the ranks of the Bombers bench.
“I've progressed from just being a special teams alternate, to starting a couple of games in my second year, to starting 11 games in my third year, to now becoming the starting free safety this year,” said Logan.
Although he has had an enjoyable four years in the CFL, Logan has warnings for any young player with professional football aspirations.
“[Football] can take over your life,” said Logan.
“But you've got to realize that football can't be the most important thing in your life. You can put everything into it, but it doesn't always give you back what you put in.
“You've got to realize that it is just a sport; it’s a game and there are other important things as well, such as family and friends.”
When asked what advice he would give to a young Golden Hawk, Logan was quick to state that a player must be able to play multiple positions.
“You have to make yourself available for many different positions because it makes you more valuable and it may be the difference between whether [a team] keeps you or lets you go,” said Logan. “The more you know, the more you learn and the better off you will be.”
Logan also commented that although Laurier is a small school, the players coming out of it’s football program are some of the best in the country.
“I think a lot of guys are unsure if they can play at that level,” said Logan.
“But I would say, without a doubt, the guys I played with at Laurier are fully capable of competing at that level.
“It's really just a matter of accepting that and pushing yourself, and not letting anybody tell you that you can't do something. There's no reason that you can't make it.”
July 14th, 2009
Former Golden Hawk Logan named runner-up for CFL top Canadian award
TORONTO, Ont. - Former OUA student-athlete Ian Logan (Waterloo, Ont.) was named runner-up of the Canadian Football League's Canadian player of the week.
A member of the 2005 Vanier Cup champion Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, Logan intercepted one pass for five yards for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in their 42-30 victory over the Calgary Stampeders. He also made three tackles.
Logan was a three-time OUA all-star from 2003-05. He is also a two-time CIS first-team all-Canadian, making 18.5 tackles, one pass knockdown and three interceptions during Laurier's championship season. He was signed by the Blue Bombers as a free agent in 2006.
OUA Communications with files from CFL and Winnipeg Blue Bombers
June 3rd, 2009
OUA Players attend CFL training camps
HAMILTON, Ont. - A number of OUA student-athletes are ready to chase their dream of playing professional football as Canadian Football League training camps open across the nation.
Ten OUA football players that were selected in last month's CFL Canadian Draft are expected to be in attendance, including Queen's Gaels defensive lineman Dee Sterling (Kingston, Ont.), who was the first OUA athlete selected in the draft, going in the second round (12th overall) to the Edmonton Eskimos. He made a significant impact in 2008 with 33 defensive tackles (26 solo), 7.5 sacks, two pass knockdowns and one forced fumble. He was named a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) all-Canadian and was an OUA first-team all-star. He will be joined by Western Mustangs linebacker Jason Kosec (Mississauga, Ont.) who was chosen in the sixth round (44th overall).
Due south of Edmonton, Sterling's defensive teammate from Queen's Osie Ukwuoma (Mississauga, Ont.) has just signed his first professional contract with the defending Grey Cup champion Calgary Stampeders. Ukwuoma, the 2008 OUA lineman of the year, was selected in the fifth round (40th overall). Ukwuoma recorded 9.5 sacks and 25 total tackles in 2008. He also earned first-team all-Canadian honours along with being an OUA first-team all-star for the second straight season.
On the Pacific coast, Windsor Lancers offensive lineman Matt Morencie (Windsor, Ont.) is set to begin his first training camp with the B.C. Lions. The 2008 OUA first-team all-star was selected in the third round, 21st overall by the club. One player will go from one pack of Lions to another, as York long snapper David Mills (Abbotsford, B.C.) will join camp as a territorial exemption. The CFL Lions will hold their training camp in Abbotsford.
Not surprisingly, the Toronto Argonauts have brought in a handful of home-grown talent. Offensive lineman Zachary Pollari (Guelph, Ont.) of Western was selected in the fourth round (26th overall) by the Boatmen, while defensive back Brad Crawford (Hamilton, Ont.) of the Guelph Gryphons was chosen in the sixth round (43rd overall). In four seasons Crawford played five different positions, showing his versatility. Crawford was third on the Gryphons with 34 tackles in 2008.
The Boatmen will have two other student-athletes that were drafted in previous years, but returned to their university programs for the 2008 season. McMaster Marauders slotback Mike Bradwell (Toronto, Ont.) played in only four games due to a hamstring injury, but caught passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran once for 21 yards. He was selected by the Argos in the second round (13th overall) in the 2008 version of the draft. Offensive lineman Richard Zulys (Toronto, Ont.) of Western, an OUA second-team all-star, will also join the Scullers in camp after being a fifth-round selection in 2008. Undrafted offensive lineman Scott Evans (Cambridge, Ont.) of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks will be attending his third training camp with the Argos. He was selected an OUA first-team all-star for the third straight season.
Another undrafted offensive lineman, Daniel Bederman (Toronto, Ont.) of Queen's, will be up the QEW trying out with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He was named an OUA first-team all-star last season.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers also have fresh OUA talent on display in the Manitoba capital. All-time CIS rushing champion Daryl Stephenson (London, Ont.), the 2006 Hec Crighton Award winner as the nation's top university football player, returns to the team that drafted him in 2008. After playing out his university eligibility with the Lancers, Stephenson signed with the Blue Bombers last October and had his first nine carries in his CFL career which produced 19 yards. He will be joined by Windsor teammate Kyle Sleightholm (Chatham, Ont.), who has made the transition from the defensive line to offence.
Also on the Blue Bombers are a pair of Golden Hawks, including offensive lineman Adam Bestard (Sarnia, Ont.) going 27th overall in the fourth round last month, and fullback Peter Quinney (Belleville, Ont.) being chosen in the fifth round (35th overall). Bestard played in all 10 of Laurier's games in 2008, while Quinney started in nine of 10 games compiling 201 rushing yards and 506 receiving yards. Thaine Carter (Nanaimo, B.C.) was chosen in the sixth round (45th overall) by Winnipeg. The linebacker was named the nation's best stand-up defensive player after leading the Gaels in tackles for the second straight season with a total of 42.5, including 33 solo, while also racking up three quarterback sacks, two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries in eight outings.
Queen's teammate Mike Giffin (Kingston, Ont.) will return to the Montreal Alouettes after joining the team the end of last season. Giffin is the reigning OUA most valuable player earning his second consecutive OUA rushing title in 2008, running for 1,061 yards during the regular season. He averaged just over seven yards per carry. Giffin also led OUA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) in touchdowns with 14 touchdowns, with 12 coming on the ground. Ottawa Gee-Gees offensive lineman and long snapper Ryan Mousseau (Ottawa, Ont.) was chosen in the sixth round (47th overall) by the Alouettes last month.
Players with remaining CIS eligibility may return to their OUA programs by August 15 but cannot participate in CFL regular season games.
- OUA -
April 18, 2009
Pity the poor slobs on the other side of the line.
Surely, Michael Knill's opponents don't stand a chance.
The six-foot-five, 315-pound Waterloo native is one of only a handful of football players to crack the rosters at both Michigan State and the University of Michigan. He did it each time as a walk-on.
In September, Knill and his all-inclusive package of brains and brawn, makes his debut on Wilfrid Laurier University's offensive line.
"My goal is to make sure the person I'm blocking is not going to get up," said Knill, 24, who lives with his family in Rochester Hills, Mich.
"I want people to fear playing against me."
Knill will be one of two transfers to arrive at Laurier this fall from American schools.
Fellow offensive lineman and future Golden Hawk Adam Hofstetter is another local product who learned the American interpretation of the game after his family moved south, to Fort Myers, Fla.
Of course, Laurier's coaching staff broke into spontaneous cartwheels at the prospect of seeing Knill and Hofstetter, along with other blue-chip recruits like receiver Alex Anthony of Victoria in purple and gold.
It's a bumper crop of prospects that Laurier head coach Gary Jeffries said rivals last year's recruiting class of the century.
Hofstetter, 19, spent last season as a red-shirt freshman with Div. II school, Southwest Baptist in Bolivar, Mo.
Knill will work toward his MBA at Laurier.
His next stop could be law school, leading to a career as a sports agent. That is, if his other objective, playing pro football, doesn't intervene first.
Knill came to Laurier on the advice of longtime friend and former Golden Hawk Dustin Heap. It didn't take much convincing because Knill's mom, Anna, is a WLU grad.
The Knills moved to Michigan from Waterloo when Michael was in Grade 10 to follow dad Kevin's work as an automotive industry engineer.
Three-down Canadian university football will take some getting used to for Knill and Hofstetter.
Knill played a season of club football while he was a high schooler in Waterloo, while Hofstetter gets his first real look at the Canadian game in September.
"Laurier consistently has been one of the best teams in the country for the past four or five years," said Knill, who has three years of eligibility remaining. "It's a little bit different, but it's still a high level of football."
He served as a backup defensive lineman through the Wolverines' Cinderella season in 2006, when the Big Ten school went 11-2 (won-lost).
Laurier's humble home at University Stadium seats about 100,000 fewer spectators than gaping Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. But no matter.
"It seemed like a perfect fit at Laurier with them having a great football team. I can get exposure playing football and I can get a great degree while I'm doing it. Best of both worlds."
Hofstetter, who attended Laurier's homecoming game last year, looks forward to playing closer to his family's other home in Kitchener. And one other thing.
"I want to win a Vanier."
(c) 2009 Waterloo Region Record