Calgary Dinos quarterback Adam Sinagra was honoured with the Hec Crighton Trophy as the most outstanding player in U SPORTS football Thursday night, as the national award winners and all-Canadians were celebrated at the annual Vanier Cup gala.
The reigning national champion Western Mustangs claimed a trio of major awards as linebacker Fraser Sopik was named the stand-up Defensive Player of the Year, defensive back Mackenzie Ferguson claimed the Russ Jackson Award recognizing excellence in football, academics and citizenship, and bench boss Greg Marshall merited his second career selection as Coach of the Year.
Other winners included Laval defensive end Mathieu Betts, voted the outstanding down lineman for a record third straight season, Calgary receiver Tyson Philpot, who earned top rookie honours, as well as Concordia’s Peter Regimbald, who received the Gino Fracas Award as the Volunteer Assistant Coach of the year, as selected by Football Canada.
The gala held at the Vidéotron Centre in Quebec City officially kicked off the festivities around the 54th Vanier Cup, presented by Promutuel Insurance, which will culminate on Saturday at TELUS-Université Laval Stadium, where Western and the hometown Laval Rouge et Or are set to battle for Canadian university football supremacy for the second straight year, starting at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT.
Television coverage on Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet ONE and TVA Sports gets under way at 12:30 p.m. ET (9:30 a.m. PT) with half-hour pre-game shows. The broadcast is also available online through Sportsnet NOW and TVASports.ca.
HEC CRIGHTON TROPHY: Adam Sinagra, Calgary
After learning from CFL greats Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell during his time in Calgary Stampeders camp this spring, Adam Sinagra, a fourth-year arts student from Pointe Claire, Que., proceeded to have one of the best seasons in Canada West football history.
His 3,233 passing yards set a new U SPORTS record, as he led the Dinos to a perfect 8-0 season, and the most potent offence in the nation, averaging 570.9 yards per game. Sinagra ranked second in the nation in passing touchdowns this season with 23, and led the conference with a passer rating of 126.
After learning from the likes of former Hec Crighton-winning quarterbacks Erik Glavic (2007) and Andrew Buckley (2014 and 2015) – who are now coaching with the Dinos – Sinagra has now joined his mentors as a Hec Crighton winner, marking the fifth consecutive season a CW player has taken home Canadian university's biggest individual prize.
“Adam’s confidence level and his leadership have really emerged this season. It’s something we didn’t see a lot of in his first two years where he was more of a quiet leader. Now, he says the right things at the right time and shares the information with his receivers and line,” says Dinos head coach Wayne Harris Jr. “He learned what it’s like to prepare as a professional – the way he watches film, makes notes in meetings on our systems and our opponents has significantly changed. Canada West has its share of fast guys, but it’s nothing like the speed of the CFL and that experience really slowed things down for him and has helped with those reads and adjustments. Everything he has learned has helped him be a better quarterback.”
- AUS: Kaion Julien-Grant, StFX (receiver)
- RSEQ: Hugo Richard, Laval (quarterback)
- OUA: Tre Ford, Waterloo (quarterback)
PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY: Fraser Sopik, Western
A member of the reigning national champion Western Mustangs galloped into the defensive spotlight this season for the OUA-leading crew. Fraser Sopik of Toronto has long been a menace on the defensive side of the ball and continued his productive, dynamic presence on the gridiron this season en route to the U SPORTS’ stand-up Defensive Player of the Year award.
In what has been a steady flow of talent on the defensive side of the ball in the purple ponies’ history, Sopik has stood out as one of the best all-time, especially at the linebacker position. His outstanding performance led a defence this season that was ranked first in Ontario in all major defensive categories, thanks in large part to his skill at stopping the pass, the run, and rushing the passer.
For his efforts, Sopik has registered 38 tackles on the year, including 31 of the solo variety, leading his team in both categories. He also picked up one sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss, to go along with an interception to round out his season. These numbers are a result of his tremendous work ethic and relentless pursuit of the football; a mentality that has made him one of the most fearsome competitors across Ontario.
“Fraser is the leader on our defence. He demonstrates courage on the field with his outstanding play, dedication and determination. His passion for the game is evident in his work ethic and on-field presence both on defense and special teams,” says Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall. “He is the most dynamic and instinctive defensive player I have coached. His positive, unselfish and humble attitude has earned him the respect and admiration of our entire team.”
- AUS: Brad Herbst, Saint Mary’s (linebacker)
- RSEQ: Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Montreal (halfback)
- CW: Ben Hladik, UBC (linebacker)
J.P. METRAS TROPHY: Mathieu Betts, Laval
Fourth-year defensive end Mathieu Betts has been named the nation’s top down lineman for the third consecutive season.
Thanks to this latest honour, the Montreal native became the first player in history to claim the J.P. Metras Trophy three times, the first to win four major U SPORTS awards during his career (he was also named Rookie of the Year in 2015) and the second to merit the same national award three years in a row, after Saint Mary’s quarterback Chris Flynn, who had a stranglehold on the Hec Crighton Trophy from 1988 to 1990.
With nine sacks in only six regular season games this fall, Betts dominated the RSEQ in that category for the fourth time in as many years and set a Quebec conference record with 35.5 career sacks. Unsurprisingly, his nine sacks and 14 tackles for losses, both U SPORTS highs, earned him a spot on the first All-Canadian team for the fourth straight season.
“Mathieu is simply dominant. So explosive that he’s able to change the outcome of a game on his own, and he’s done it again this year,” said Rouge et Or head coach Glen Constantin. “He’s also a great teammate. He’s humble, supports all the guys around him and helps create a fun atmosphere around the team. He makes his teammates better, both with his play and his attitude.”
- AUS: Thomas Grant, Acadia (defensive tackle)
- OUA: Kene Onyeka, Carleton (defensive end)
- CW: Joel Van Pelt, Calgary (defensive end)
PETER GORMAN TROPHY: Tyson Philpot, Calgary
A major aerial weapon this season in the Stampede City, Calgary receiver Tyson Philpot is the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year.
Philpot finished seventh in U SPORTS receiving yards with 741, and was a major deep threat for the Dinos. The Delta, B.C. product had an average target depth of 17.6 yards in 2018, and hauled in eight receptions of 30 yards or more.
Philpot posted plenty of explosive plays this season, including Week 2 when he burst onto the scene with a 107-yard touchdown reception against UBC – the longest catch in Dinos history.
Highly-touted as a recruit after being the 2017 BC high school player of the year, Philpot was the lone rookie named to the conference's all-star team this fall.
“Tyson has been a great addition to our program. He has a great attitude and work ethic, and his skill set far exceeds the average freshman,” says Harris Jr. “He has been able to learn our systems quickly, and has dedicated himself to being successful. He has made big catches, in big games, at big moments. He continues to work hard in practice and doesn’t take anything for granted. He has been a great addition and a great teammate for everyone in the room.”
- AUS: Shedler Fervius, Saint Mary’s (receiver)
- RSEQ: Vincent Forbes-Mombleau, Laval (receiver)
- OUA: Jack Hinsperger, Waterloo (linebacker)
RUSS JACKSON AWARD: Mackenzie Ferguson, Western
One of the many outstanding players that Greg Marshall gets to coach is Mackenzie Ferguson of London, Ont., who makes his mark in many different ways as a member of the Mustangs, clearly exemplifying the attributes of academic achievement, football skill, and citizenship as the Russ Jackson Award winner.
Currently completing his Masters of Science in Clinical Anatomy, Ferguson spends much of his time off the field in the realms of research, lab work, course work, and teaching, currently serving as a teaching assistant in Western’s Physiotherapy program. His research, meanwhile, involves working with doctors and professions to develop a new curriculum for first-year medical students being implemented next year. The Bachelor of Science graduate earned a 90 per cent average throughout his four-year undergrad program, earning several Academic All-Canadian nods along the way.
His accolades don’t stop in the academic realm, however, as he has seen his well-rounded contributions on the field, in the classroom, and in the community recognized by the Mustangs as the recipient of the 2017 Darwin Semotiuk Award, the Bronze W Award, and even a Most Improved Player Award that epitomized the impeccable work ethic he displayed for the purple and white.
From a volunteer perspective, Ferguson has translated his leadership role on campus into several meaningful opportunities to give back. Among the initiatives that the fourth-year student-athlete has gotten involved with are: ManMade, a program that allows men to talk openly about sexual violence and consent and how to prevent sexual violence from occurring; the Western Football Mentorship Program, which focuses on veteran players mentoring younger athletes on the team with academic, athletic, or other personal guidance; McDonald’s McHappy Day, an annual event that helps collect donations for various children’s charities; Special Olympics Ontario, wherein the team participates in a volunteer soccer game with members of the organization; and many more worthy causes.
Whether it is making a difference on the field with his work ethic, excelling academically as he pursues his passion, or contributing to the community, Ferguson has demonstrated time and time again why he deserves to be the second consecutive - and second overall - Mustang to claim the Russ Jackson Award.
“Over the past five seasons, Mackenzie has made a significant impact on our football program both on and off the field. He is a multi-year starter at the corner position and has continued to develop into an outstanding football player,” says Marshall. “He is currently a three-year Academic All-Canadian and completed his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology with a cumulative 90 per cent over four years. He is the first to volunteer to assist in our community outreach initiatives. He is a captain and leader on our team and has earned the respect of all his teammates and coaches.”
- AUS: Cameron Davidson, Acadia (running back)
- RSEQ: Jérémie-Billal Lardi, Sherbrooke (fullback)
- CW: Jayden McKoy, Manitoba (defensive back)
FRANK TINDALL TROPHY: Greg Marshall, Western
Not much more can be said about the Western Mustangs than has already been said, as the team continues to be one of the most well-oiled machines across the university football scene, and while the talent is clear on the field, they also receive guidance from one of the best in the business on the sidelines – 2018 Coach of the Year Greg Marshall.
Marshall, who claimed his 10th Yates Cup this season and first Vanier Cup as a head coach a year ago, once again led the Mustangs to leading numbers across the board this season. Top-ranked totals of 48 points per game compared to an average of just 11.1 surrendered make them one of the most well-rounded teams in the country, creating great difficulty in finding a weak spot. They led the nation in rushing with a nearly 70-yard cushion, picking up 271.6 per game, which contributed to their second-ranked 556.9 yards of total offence per contest.
Now in his 12th season at the helm of the purple ponies, Marshall has added another 8-0 season to his already impressive career mark with the program, which now sits at 105-25. The Western alum, who found similar success during his Mustangs’ playing days with three consecutive Yates Cup championships and a Hec Crighton selection, picked up his sixth OUA coach of the year award earlier this month – his fourth with Western – and the 12th in program history.
“Greg is the competitive and relentless leader of the Western football program. His hard work and unselfish dedication to the Mustang football family is the culture he has built with the team,” says athletic director Christine Stapleton. “He is like a second father to the young men that he coaches and has mentored countless current U SPORTS coaches throughout his career. His impact on the Mustangs football program is profound and Western is tremendously proud of U SPORTS Coach of the Year Greg Marshall.”
- AUS: Gary Waterman, StFX
- RSEQ: Glen Constantin, Laval
- CW: Wayne Harris Jr., Calgary
GINO FRACAS AWARD: Peter Regimbald, Concordia
Concordia assistant head coach Peter Regimbald is named the Assistant Coach of the Year, as selected by Football Canada.
He stepped down at the end of the 2018 football season after 50 years with the program. He started as an assistant coach with the legendary George Dixon in 1968. That year, Regimbald helped Loyola College win an Ottawa-St. Lawrence championship. He has coached almost all the positions on the team but most notably he was the special teams coordinator for many years when Concordia was known throughout the country as “Kicker U.” His schemes and techniques helped develop many great players, and many went on to have long careers in the CFL.
Through his guidance on and off the football field “Coach Reg” has changed the lives of many student-athletes. If it was not for him, some would have never graduated.
- AUS: Daniel Paquette, Bishop’s
- OUA: Mike White, Ottawa
- CW: Sheldon Neald, Regina
2018 U SPORTS FOOTBALL ALL-CANADIANS
Without much surprise, the three teams than ran the table in their respective conferences during the regular season dominated the all-Canadian selection.
Laval led the way with eight all-stars - including a U SPORTS-best five on the first team - while Calgary and Western had seven and six, respectively. A quartet of schools followed with four apiece, including UBC, Laurier, Saskatchewan and StFX.
Among first-team all-Canadians, Laval defensive end Mathieu Betts - now a three-time J.P. Metras Trophy winner - is one of eight standouts returning from last year’s top unit. The impressive list also includes Laval tackle Vincent Desjardins, UBC free safety Stavros Katsantonis and Ottawa cornerback Jamie Harry on defence and, on offence, Western guard David Brown as well as receivers Trivel Pinto of UBC, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. of Laurier and Kaion Julien-Grant of StFX.
|Pos.||First Name||Last Name||School||Elig.||Hometown||Program|
|C||Samuel||Lefebvre||Laval||3||Saint-Lambert-de-Lauzon, Que.||Business Administration|
|G||Samuel||Thomassin||Laval||4||Quebec City, Que.||Business Administration|
|T||Kétel||Assé||Laval||3||Quebec City, Que.||Teaching Physical & Health Education|
|REC||Kurleigh||Gittens Jr.||Laurier||4||Ottawa, Ont.||Sociology|
|REC||Kaion||Julien-Grant||StFX||4||Toronto, Ont.||Human Kinetics|
|RB||Cedric||Joseph||Western||4||Montreal, Que.||King's College|
|RB||Tyler||Chow||Saskatchewan||5||Calgary, Alta.||Arts & Science|
|QB||Adam||Sinagra||Calgary||4||Pointe Claire, Que.||Arts|
|DE||Mathieu||Betts||Laval||4||Montreal, Que.||Teaching Physical & Health Education|
|DE||Kene||Onyeka||Carleton||5||Brampton, Ont.||Mechanical Engineering|
|LB||Fraser||Sopik||Western||4||Toronto, Ont.||Social Science|
|LB||Brian||Harelimana||Montreal||3||Laval, Que.||Arts & Sciences|
|HB||Marc-Antoine||Dequoy||Montreal||3||Île Bizard, Que.||Computer Science|
|DT||Vincent||Desjardins||Laval||4||Quebec City, Que.||Civil Engineering|
|RET||Kurleigh||Gittens Jr.||Laurier||4||Ottawa, Ont.||Sociology|
|P||Brad||Mikoluff||Manitoba||5||Beausejour, Man.||General Studies|
|Pos.||First Name||Last Name||School||Elig.||Hometown||Program|
|C||Jonathan||Zamora||StFX||3||Toronto, Ont.||Business Administration|
|G||Jacob||Czaja||StFX||5||Sudbury, Ont.||Business Administration|
|T||Jesse||Gibbon||Waterloo||4||Hamilton, Ont.||Environmental Management|
|T||Carter||O'Donnell||Alberta||3||Red Deer, Alta.||Education|
|REC||Gordon||Lam||Waterloo||2||Kitchener, Ont.||Recreation & Leisure|
|QB||Hugo||Richard||Laval||5||Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Que.||Mechanical Engineering|
|DT||Trevaughan||James||Laurier||4||Whitby, Ont.||Kinesiology / Physical Education|
|DT||Thomas||Grant||Acadia||4||Halifax, N.S.||Business Administration|
|DE||Joel||Van Pelt||Calgary||5||Lethbridge, Alta.||Science|
|LB||Brad||Herbst||Saint Mary's||5||Ottawa, Ont.||Criminology|
|LB||Lukas||Korol||Guelph||5||Dundas, Ont.||Leadership & Organizational Management|
|FS||Daniel||Valente||Western||2||London, Ont.||Social Science|
|HB||Shae||Weekes||Manitoba||2||St. Adolphe, Man.||General Studies|
|HB||Nate||Rostek||Mount Allison||5||Stillwater Lake, N.S.||Psychology|
|P||Marc||Liegghio||Western||3||Woodbridge, Ont.||King's College|
|PK||David||Côté||Laval||2||Quebec City, Que.||Teaching Physical & Health Education|