It’s almost here!
The 2019 U SPORTS East-West Bowl goes this Saturday at Carleton with kick-off at 12:30 p.m ET / 9:30 a.m. PT. While the game is the show, it’s practices from Tuesday through Friday where players get to showcase their skills for CFL scouts and opposing U SPORTS coaches they will face this coming fall. Here is the buzz and breakdown from Thursday’s practice.
Headliners: Talented Arms
As a former U SPORTS quarterback, surrounded by other former U SPORTS quarterbacks like Michael Faulds, Justin Dunk and Mark Lee - the latter two have the call of the game live Saturday on USPORTS.LIVE - I am often guilty of finding the passers before looking at anyone else.
2019 will not be the year that trend changes thanks to Calgary’s Adam Sinagra – the reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner and Lieutenant Governor Athletic Award Finalist. The Dinos pivot’s ability to slide around the pocket with ease is special and while battling a cool whipping wind at Thursday morning’s on-field session, he found a way to make some really impressive throws. One of which came in 12-on-12 where Sinagra got through three reads while avoiding the rush and found an open crosser before pumping the ball perfectly on target to his receiver.
A play which led Ticats special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold to run down the field 15 yards emphatically and almost knock Wayne Harris’ QB’s throwing hand off with a high five.
In 2018, Sinagra had 27 touchdown passes to just 10 interceptions while amassing a whopping 3,872 yards through the air in the regular season and Canada West playoffs combined. He’s the heir apparent to the newly Michael O’Connor-created title of ‘U SPORTS QB with the best chance to get drafted.
Elsewhere on Team West, Manitoba's Des Catellier more than held his own with some great movement and accuracy Thursday, while on the other side of the field Acadia QB Hunter Guenard - the AUS leading passer who was intercepted just four times in 2018 - showed off his arm strength.
The fourth and perhaps most intriguing QB at the 2019 East-West Bowl is Toronto’s Clay Sequeira. He dressed and started in just four games last season for Toronto and went 72/127 for 875 yards and two touchdowns. He had a career-high 367 yards vs Waterloo on Sept. 1 but has limited experience against U SPORTS competition and will be taking on the best of the 2020 CFL Draft class this Saturday. For Sequeira, this week is a tremendous opportunity to develop and grow his game for the Varsity Blues to take advantage of come August.
All in, the QBs at this years East-West Bowl put together 57 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and 9,040 yards in 2018. It’s a great group that should create some excitement Saturday should they play to their practice shown potential.
Post Practice Homework
After practice Thursday, the previously mentioned Hamilton Tiger-Cats special teams coordinator Jeff Reinebold - who has served in many capacities on all sides of the ball in his coaching career - took 20 minutes to explain some of the Tickets run n’ shoot offence to Team West receivers and quarterbacks. A unique oppourtunity for U SPORTS players to learn a different flavour of the passing game from a coach who has seen it all.
After lunch, teams took to Carleton lecture halls to break down their third straight day of practice film in order to work out the kinks for game day.
Who is that?!
The second I walked into practice Thursday after flying in I saw a Montreal Carabins helmet get a jam on a receiver that stopped his opponent dead in his tracks.
WHO IS THAT?!
It’s Carabins defensive back Marc-Antoine Dequoy: the RSEQ Defensive Player of the Year.
Carabins head coach Danny Maciocia told me he has timed Dequoy at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash before and while Dequoy clocked in at 4.75 officially at Tuesday’s East-West Bowl combine, I have a hard time disagreeing with Maciocia.
Dequoy is long, can run, has above-average cover skills and three defensive touchdowns from 2018. A named you absolutely need to know for Saturday at Carleton.
The Trend Continues…
After a 2019 CFL Combine where 2018 East-West Bowl receivers such as StFX’s Kaion Julien-Grant and Chris Osei-Kusi stole the show, it appears pass catchers will be a headline once again this time next year at the CFL Draft. Leading that group is Waterloo’s Tyler Ternowski, who was the immediate answer from Sinagra, when I asked him who the one receiver is he wishes he could steal and play with on the Dinos this fall.
In nine combined regular season and playoff games, Ternowski had 70 catches, 1,271 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2018 for the Warriors, breaking the OUA single season touchdown record in the process. Expect him to be the West’s primary red zone target on Saturday.
If the QBs, stud DB and big time receiver don’t impress you and open your eyes to the quality of top end U SPORTS talent, how about the size and skill across the Team West offensive line.
Western Mustangs left tackle Dylan Giffen measured in Tuesday at 6-foot-8, 324 pounds while recording 22 reps of 225 pounds on bench press and leaping 28 inches in the vertical.
This guy is for real.
Alongside him, a pair of Saskatchewan Huskies in Nicholas Summach (6-8, 330) and Mattland Riley (6-3, 300) showed well at Thursday’s practice. It’s no wonder Scott Flory’s Hardy Cup champions were so effective running the ball in 2018.
Play of the day
Speaking of Husky dominance, Saskatchewan Huskies defensive end Nicholas Dheilly flew through the line on a run call for Sinagra and the offence blowing up the running back, while confusing the read for the Dinos passer. It was the type of pad popping collision you rarely hear in an East-West Bowl practice and had everyone on the field turning their head like they had just heard Barry Bonds in batting practice hit a homer on the far side of the field.
Walk throughs go Friday morning at Carleton. I’ll have more behind the scenes access for you then on twitter @USPORTS_FB and Instagram @USPORTSca leading up to Saturday where I’ll be roaming the sidelines at Carleton contributing to Mark Lee and Justin Dunk’s call of the game.
Let’s hope it goes better than the four-interception display I put on during my inaugural visit to this field in 2013.