Alberta Golden Bears
- 2018 regular season record: 2-6
- 2018 regular season standings: 5th in Canada West
- 2018 playoff record: N/A
- 2018 playoff finish: Did not qualify
The Golden Bears battled numerous injuries across the field last season, finishing fifth in Canada West with a 2-6 conference record. However, head coach Chris Morris is returning a large portion of his youthful core this season, coupled with one of the best recruiting classes during his tenure with the Bears.
Offensively, the Bears will be led by 2018-19 U of A Male Rookie of the Year, Jonathan Rosery. The freshman running back finished third in the conference with 612 rushing yards last season, despite only starting in six of the Bears eight games.
Paving the way for Rosery will be the Bears talented offensive line, anchored by 2018 U SPORTS All-Canadian, and top CFL prospect Carter O’Donnell. O’Donnell is regarded as one of the top prospects for the next CFL draft, and is garnering NFL buzz leading into the season.
Defensively, the Bears will rely on returning starters Reggie Schoeppe (DB) and Aaron Chabaylo (LB), both of whom competed in the East-West Bowl this spring in Ottawa.
While the Bears will return a handful of starting athletes, they will have two new play callers on their staff this season. Former Edmonton Eskimo and head coach of the Edmonton Huskies Rick Walters was named the new offensive coordinator, while former McMaster Marauders HC Greg Knox will take over as defensive coordinator.
Quote from head coach: Chris Morris
”I have been extremely impressed with the resolve, determination and work ethic of this group of young men. It is a talented group of guys who really care and who have done everything they can to improve both individually and collectively this off-season. I am excited to see what this group of players and coaches can accomplish together this season.
“This is one of, if not the top recruiting classes we have had in the last six years. We brought in talent all over the field, including highly-toughed high school players and several junior standouts, such as Jayden Dalke and Jassen Brown who we’re both All-Canadian PFC players that should make huge contributions to the team this season.”
Head Coach: Chris Morris
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 7
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 7
- Career regular season record with team: 11-37
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 11-37
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 11-38
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 11-38
- 2018 regular season record: 5-3
- 2018 regular season standings: 2nd in Canada West
- 2018 playoff record: 0-1
- 2018 playoff finish: Lost 31-28 in overtime to Saskatchewan in Hardy Cup semifinals
The 2019 season brings about a new era of sorts for the UBC Thunderbirds. Following the departure of quarterback Michael O’Connor as well as several other key figures dating back to UBC’s 2015 Vanier Cup championship, there are a number of big holes needing to be filled on offence, defence, and special teams.
The 2018 season saw the Thunderbirds get out to a sluggish start but won their final three regular season games to finish 5-3 and in second place in the conference. The ‘Birds hosted the eventual Hardy Cup champion Saskatchewan Huskies in a playoff semifinal where the visitors advanced with a 31-28 overtime victory. The T-Birds have now had their last three seasons end in the post-season by a combined seven points.
With an impressive recruiting class, head coach Blake Nill enters his fifth season at the Thunderbirds’ helm. A veteran offensive line will be key to provide protection for UBC’s new yet-to-be determined starting pivot. The offence in general will look completely different from the past several seasons while the defence will be led once again by Ben Hladik, the 2018 Canada West Defensive Player of the Year
Entering his 22nd season as a U SPORTS head coach, Nill remains on the hunt for his fourth Vanier Cup title.
Quote from head coach: Blake Nill
“There’s been a lot of really good surprises and impressive veteran performances and we just got to keep putting the athletes in a position so they can be evaluated which will allow us to put the best team on the field. We’re very fortunate to have the O-line situation we have, that’s going to be a major part of our season this year and on the defensive side of the ball, our linebacker crew has to be one of the best in the country. Right now the kids are focused on the group that’s on the field, you don’t see anyone do anything else but support one another and trying to get better as a whole.”
Head Coach: Blake Nill
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 5
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 22
- Career regular season record with team: 20-12
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 123-46
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 26-15
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 156-62
- 2018 regular season record: 8-0
- 2018 regular season standings: 1st in Canada West
- 2018 playoff record: 1-1
- 2018 playoff finish: Lost 43-18 to Saskatchewan in Hardy Cup
It has been a long off-season in Calgary.
After a season for the history books – an undefeated 8-0 record highlighted by stellar play on offence, including the Hec Crighton winner and a new U SPORTS single-season passing record – the University of Calgary Dinos’ 2018 campaign was unceremoniously snuffed out by the Saskatchewan Huskies in the 82nd Hardy Cup last November at McMahon Stadium. The bitter taste of that defeat has stuck with the Dinos throughout the off-season.
The Dinos will get the chance to finally put that game behind them when they step on the field for real Friday night as they visit the Alberta Golden Bears to open the 2019 Canada West football season.
Perhaps lost in the 2018 season’s end was just how impressive the season had been to that point. With one of the youngest lineups in Canada, the Dinos averaged better than 42 points per game and racked up more than 4,500 offensive yards in eight contests, all while allowing just 17 points per outing. Five Dinos were crowned First Team All-Canadians, led by Hec Crighton winner Adam Sinagra at quarterback, with Calgary picking up 11 of the 27 positions available on the Canada West all-star team.
With a couple exceptions on defence, the entire group is back, a year older and more experienced, ready to take the next step.
The road starts in Edmonton, with the home opener set for Sept. 6 against Manitoba.
Quote from head coach: Wayne Harris, Jr.
"On the offence we hope that we'll be able to pick up where we left off. There are some key guys that we have brought in that we expect to compete to play right away, and we hope that a few of the guys that didn't start last year will challenge for some of those starting roles. It's exciting to see them get back on the field, and we're looking forward to a lot of production out of our offence.
"We were a very young team last year, and hopefully it's a learning experience for a young group of people that were really excelling above what our expectations were. Hopefully they've learned from that, that the playoffs are a whole new game, you need to be big and strong and fast in this conference to get out of it, and it doesn't get any easier after that."
Head Coach: Wayne Harris, Jr.
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 5
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 5
- Career regular season record with team: 29-3 (.906)
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 29-3 (.906)
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 36-7 (.837)
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 36-7 (.837)
- 2018 regular season record: 3-5
- 2018 regular season standings: 4th in Canada West
- 2017 playoff record: 0-1
- 2017 playoff finish: Lost 37-13 to Calgary in conference semifinal
With plenty of depth at running back, an experienced pivot and three CFL draft picks on the defensive line, the Manitoba Bisons have high expectations for the 2019 U SPORTS season.
A 12-9 exhibition victory over Regina showcased exactly what Manitoba is capable of, especially on defence, where they registered five sacks, all coming from the defensive line.
Quote from head coach: “We have to have that all the time for our defensive line, because they’re that good,” Bisons head coach Brian Dobie says.
“Our defensive line is one of the best groups in the country and I totally believe that. We need to take advantage of that depth and they need to keep flying around.”
Head Coach: Brian Dobie
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 24 seasons
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 24 seasons
- Career regular season record with team: 91-89-1
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 91-89-1
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 103-100-1
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 103-100-1
- 2018 regular season record: 1-7
- 2018 regular season standings: 6th, Canada West
- 2018 playoff record: Did not qualify
It’ll be a new look for the Rams on both sides of the ball this year as there’s significant departures on both the offence and the defence. The offence loses six starters – including quarterback Noah Picton and Atlee Simon – while the defence loses five starting players from last season, three of which come at linebacker as Cole Benkic, Layne Hull, and Danny Nesbitt have all graduated.
Taking the reins of the offence will be first-year quarterback Josh Donnelly, who redshirted last year but got an introduction to U SPORTS football when he started the team’s Week 7 road game against Canada West regular season champion Calgary. Donnelly will have the benefit of four returning starters at receiver, while the offensive line brings back starters Andrew Becker and Theren Churchill at right guard and right tackle.
The defensive backfield returns all five starters from last season, but the team will look completely different at both linebacker and defensive line. Look for Josh White, Ryder Varga, and newcomer Cody Peters to step into featured roles at linebacker, while the defensive line will bring back veterans Matt Moore and Eric Wicijowski to join a plethora of incoming talent. Among the new names on the line will be Brandon McKimmon, who had a fantastic start to training camp and will likely find a spot at defensive end for the Rams.
Quote from head coach: Steve Bryce
“Overall, we’re excited about this upcoming year. We have a very youthful core of talent, with the likes of Ryder Varga, Josh White, Jaxon Ford, and Bennett Stusek emerging as young leaders. They’ve all completed an outstanding offseason and have positioned themselves to have a fantastic 2019 season.”
Head Coach: Steve Bryce
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 4
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 4
- Career regular season record with team: 11-13
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 11-13
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 11-15
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 11-15
- 2018 regular season record: 5-3
- 2018 regular season standings: 3rd in Canada West
- 2018 playoff record: 2-1
- 2018 playoff finish: Won Hardy Cup, lost to Western Mustangs in Mitchell Bowl
After being ranked in the bottom of the Canada West pre-season coaches’ poll, the 2018 University of Saskatchewan Huskies football team went from zeroes to heroes. The Huskies entered the postseason on the backs of two-game winning streak and stayed hot as they defeated the UBC Thunderbirds in overtime to advance to the Hardy Cup. From there, the Huskies did the unthinkable and took down the previously undefeated Calgary Dinos to win their first conference championship since 2006 in only the second season of Scott Flory’s tenure as head coach of the program.
After falling in the Mitchell Bowl to the OUA champion Western Mustangs, the Huskies said goodbye to fifth-year standouts Kyle Siemens, Tyler Chow and Tristian Koronkweicz, as the program will usher in a new era of Huskie football led by third year quarterback Mason Nyhus. Saskatchewan enters the season not only looking to get back to their second consecutive Hardy Cup, but also with legitimate Vanier Cup aspirations.
Quote from head coach: Scott Flory
“We are going to be dynamic, the community can expect a fast team. Lots of speed, that’s been the focus in the offseason. We want to be able to play at a faster pace than anybody else, but still have the toughness and physicality that are the staples of Huskie football.”
Head Coach: Scott Flory
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2019): 3rd season
- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2019): 3rd season
- Career regular season record with team: 7-9
- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 7-9
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 9-10
- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 9-10