OUA announces 2017 first-team and second-team All-Stars

Photo by Charity Matheson
Photo by Charity Matheson

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2017 OUA football First and Second-Team All-Stars.

Leading the charge with an unparalleled total of 17 All-Star nods are the Western Mustangs, and for clear reason. The London squad sat atop the OUA standings with an undefeated regular season, ranking as the province’s best offence and defence in terms of points scored and allowed.

Accounting for a great deal of the team’s points scored is the combination of First-Team All-Stars QB Chris Merchant (Calgary, Alb.) and RB Alex Taylor (Winnipeg, Man.), as the two were magnificent in moving the ball both in the air and on the ground. Taylor sat second in the OUA with 118.7 YPG, while Merchant threw for just shy of 2,000 yards and ran for another 463 on the ground, totaling 16 touchdowns along the way.

Also chipping in with a team-leading 582 yards receiving and four touchdown receptions is Harry McMaster (Niagara Falls, Ont.), who joins the Mustangs’ Second-Team contingent, while Taylor’s backfield running mate, FB David Mackie (Jackson’s Point, Ont.), joins him on the First-Team.

Not to be outdone, the team’s leading scorer came from none of these offensively gifted players, but rather, kicker Marc Liegghio (Woodbridge, Ont.), who more than doubled the scoring output of the next closest Mustangs player (130 points). Liegghio connected on 91% of his 32 field goal attempts, to sit second in the OUA, while also adding nearly 2,000 yards in the punt game. All of this helped Liegghio add another All-Star nod to his already impressive resume.

The top two tacklers on the Western squad, linebackers Jean-Gabriel Poulin (St. Nicolas, Que.) and Nicolas Vanin (London, Ont.), also earned All-Star selections with the two combining for over 70 takedowns on the year. CB Hakeem Johnson (Brampton, Ont.) used his talent in stopping the passing game (2 INT, 3 pass break ups) to earn his All-Star selection, while DB Bleska Kambamba (London, Ont.), DT Jimmy Hawley (Stratford, Ont.), and DB Jesse McNair (London, Ont.) also join a strong Mustangs contingent on the Second-Team.

The dynamic rush/cover Fraser Sopik (Aurora, Ont.) collects his second consecutive OUA All-Star selection on special teams, while his 32.5 tackles that featured 7.5 for a loss have also helped him earn a defensive nod on the Second-Team.

The final Western representatives, meanwhile, come from a stout offensive line that includes First-Team honourees T David Brown (London, Ont.) and G Matt Bettencourt (London, Ont.) – both earning the accolade for their hometown Mustangs – and Second-Team All-Stars G Gregoire Bouchard (Chicoutimi, Que.) and C Mark Wheatley (London, Ont.)

Checking in with a total of 10 All-Star selections are the reigning Yates Cup champs, with perhaps none less surprising than the First-Team recognition of WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa, Ont.). Gittens Jr. set a new OUA record for receptions this season, hauling in a total of 75 on the campaign, while also tallying 953 yards receiving and six touchdowns. If that wasn’t enough, his more than 700 return yards and additional touchdown have earned the talented receiver / returner First-Team recognition on special teams as well. 

Joining Gittens Jr. as the Hawks’ 1-2 punch at receiver is Brentyn Hall (Toronto, Ont.), who earned himself a spot as a Second-Team All-Star. The 6’2” receiver found the endzone five times, while collecting nearly 600 yards in the air (583). Laurier’s offensive presence on the Second-Team All-Star squad is rounded out by OL Chris Reddy (Kitchener, Ont.).

A capable defensive unit is also a major part of Laurier’s success, and Godfrey Onyeka (Brampton, Ont.) is a leading figure in that realm. Onyeka has a way making his presence felt, tallying interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles, and much more. But beyond his presence against the opposing offence, he is also a key player in the special teams department, helping him secure First-Team honours for defence and Second-Team honours for special teams.

Along with Onyeka, the quartet of All-Stars Trevaughan James (Whitby, Ont.), Isaiah Guzylak-Messam (Hamilton, Ont.), Brandon Calver (London, Ont.) and Robbie Smith (Brampton, Ont.) also cause headaches for the opposition, and when it comes to the latter, it is the opposing quarterback that frequently feels his wrath. To go along with his 27.5 tackles and multiple pass break-ups, Smith also secured a tie for the OUA lead with 10.5 sacks on the campaign.

The third-ranked team in the province – McMaster Marauders – earn four All-Star nods of their own on the season, and unsurprisingly, there is a distinct defensive vibe to the honourees.

Mark Mackie (London, Ont.) showcased his innate ability to get to the quarterback in a season that saw him tally an impressive six sacks. A 2017 draft pick of the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, Mackie played a leading role on the Marauders defence that sparked a solid 6-2 record for the Hamilton squad.

Teammate Robbie Yochim (Kelowna, B.C.) finds himself in familiar territory, garnering yet another All-Star nod – his third in three seasons. Yochim collected 22 tackles on the year, along with a sack and a pair of interceptions. The third defensive representative from the Marauders is Hassan Barry (Cambridge, Ont.), who picks up his second straight All-Star selection on the back of his 24.5 tackle, 2.5 sack campaign.

McMaster, just like they entered the season with a strong defensive reputation, also came into the campaign with a young offensive unit. One of the more veteran pieces, however, earned another All-Star nod to his name as WR Dan Petermann (Stoney Creek, Ont.) has continued to solidify himself as one of the OUA’s most reliable receivers. Petermann led the young crew this season with 517 yards and a pair of TDs.

It was a tale of two seasons for the Queen’s Gaels, meanwhile, but in their second half bounce back that led them to the postseason, the team was clicking on all cylinders. The offensive unit for the Gaels was practically unstoppable down the stretch, with one of the main reasons being the play of QB Nate Hobbs. The fourth-year QB racked up the stats this season, including an OUA-leading 2,570 yards passing and 21 touchdowns (both career highs), combined with just four interceptions. The big numbers translated into a Second-Team All-Star selection for the 6’2” Geography major, his first such accolade.

Helping Hobbs to secure his pace-setting stats was a strong receiving core, led by First-Team selection Chris Osei-Kusi. Osei-Kusi led the conference in receiving touchdowns (7) and was a shining star down the stretch, highlighted by a 226 yard, three touchdown game in the Gaels first win of the season.

To go along with the sizzling offence was a stout defence that wreaked havoc on the opposition, as shown in their three All-Star selections. Highlighting the bunch is LB Nelkas Kwemo (Montreal, Que.), who led the Gaels with 48 tackles on the year, to go along with four sacks and three interceptions, proving to be an ever-present threat to the opposing offence.

Kwemo is joined by fellow First-Team All-Star FS Wesley Mann (Almonte, Ont.), who was a man on a mission in his second consecutive All-Star season. The fourth-year player was a jack-of-all-trades on the gridiron, collecting 33.5 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack to pad the stat sheet. Earning a selection as a Second-Team All-Star for the Gaels, meanwhile, is Cameron Lawson (Caledon, Ont.).

The Carleton Ravens, despite falling just shy of a postseason berth, have plenty to be proud of on the gridiron this season, as the program has earned a total of seven All-Star nods. Highlighting the group is Second-Team honouree Nathan Carter (Ottawa, Ont.), who had an electrifying year on the ground. Carter’s 1,110 rush yards led the OUA, and he proved himself to be a workhorse in the backfield, leading the OUA in attempts on the season (152), while averaging a stout  7.3 yards per carry.

Much of what the Ravens were able to accomplish on offence this season was due to an incredibly talented offensive line, so it’s no surprise that three of these individuals received All-Star nods. It is First-Team honours for the duo of T Nolan McGreer (Kingston, Ont.) and C Zach Annen (St. Thomas, Ont.), while G KC Bakker (London, Ont.) earns a Second-Team nod.

One of the other big playmakers for the Ravens, meanwhile, joins his teammates on the Second-Team, as Phil Iloki (Montreal, Que.) turned his 589 yard, five touchdown campaign into an All-Star selection, while K Michael Domagala (St. Catharines, Ont.) rounds out the Ravens contingent as a Second-Team special teams honouree.

Flipping the script to the defensive side, standout DE Kene Onyeka (Brampton, Ont.) earns First-Team honours after a season that included 32 solo tackles, 10.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two pass break ups. Onyeka truly was everywhere on the field for the Ravens, and as such, earns his second consecutive All-Star selection.

The second team from the nation’s capital, the uOttawa Gee-Gees, picked up a total of three All-Star selections in what was a fourth place finish in 2017, led by one of the most dynamic players in the province.

DB Jackson Bennett (Cumberland, Ont.) was a force to be reckoned with in multiple facets of the game, representing one of the most unique and diverse players the sport has to offer. Thanks to his defensive prowess – picking up a team-leading 47 tackles along with three interceptions and a forced fumble – as well as his return game ability – earning over 600 yards and one touchdown – Bennett has earned First-Team honours on defence and Second-Team recognition on special teams.

Joining Bennett with a defensive All-Star selection is CB Jamie Harry (Lachine, Que.), who also represents the Gee-Gees on the First-Team.

Despite finishing in the fifth spot this season, the Guelph Gryphons boasted plenty of top-tier talent that matches up well with any of the nation’s top teams. And when talking about the talented Gryphons squad, much of what they are able to accomplish involves star receiver Jacob Scarfone (London, Ont.).

Scarfone, a fourth-year player studying Economics and Finance, has proven once again to be a threat in the receiving game, with his nearly 80 YPG and five receiving touchdowns garnering him First-Team All-Star recognition.

A key Gryphon making waves in the special teams game, meanwhile, is K Gabriel Ferraro (Mississauga, Ont.), who’s record-setting season earns him a First-Team selection. Ferraro, who capped off his impressive campaign with a 7-for-7 field goal performance, re-wrote the OUA record books with a total of 33 made FGs on the year. Ferraro, who connected on over 82% of his attempts, made 12 field goals beyond the 40-yard mark and totaled a school-record 125 points.

Certainly, the team boasts strengths in two facets of the game, but the third component sees a similarly impressive All-Star component thanks to Nick Parisotto (Guelph, Ont.). The fourth-year standout gives the Gryphons a little bit of everything on D, including 32 tackles and two interceptions, and he used this defensive prowess to pick up his second straight All-Star nod.

Rounding out the Gryphon contingent is are a pair of offensive lineman, as T Eric Starczala (Cambridge, Ont.) and G Andrew Pickett (Kitchener, Ont.) pick up All-Star nods; the second straight selection for the latter.

The Waterloo Warriors stormed back into the win column this year, fighting right down to the wire for a playoff spot, and there are many who played a role in that success. One of the key figures, however, is First-Team All-Star – WR Tyler Ternowski (Hamilton, Ont.). Ternowski was the focal point of a potent Waterloo offence, to the tune of over 700 yards receiving and three touchdowns in just five games, highlighted by his pair of 200+ yard efforts. Ternowski also led all OUA receivers with an average of 141 yards per game.

On the defensive side of the ball, LB Kurtis Gray (Waterloo, Ont.) led the Warriors with 56.5 tackles to go along with two sacks. The talented defensive star makes for an imposing presence for the opposition, helping the second-year player secure his first OUA All-Star selection.  

Joining the Warriors with a pair of All-Star selections are the York Lions. Along with TE Nikola Kalinic (Toronto, Ont.), who recorded seven catches, five special teams tackles, and also showed tremendous blocking skills, the Lions are highlighted by defensive standout DE Rossini Sandjong-Djabome (Longueuil, Que.), who earns his first All-Star nod on the Second-Team. Sandjong-Djabome was a force to be reckoned with for the York side, picking up four sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and two fumble recoveries, along with ranking second on the team with 37 tackles.

Rounding out the All-Star selections is a representative of the Toronto Varsity Blues, and a record-setting one at that. K TJ Morton (Baltimore, Md.) punted his way onto the First-Team All-Star squad and into the OUA record books, setting the single season mark for punt yards with 3,921.

The complete list of the OUA’s First-Team and Second-Team football All-Stars is as follows:

First Team

QB – Chris Merchant, Western
RB – Alex Taylor, Western
FB – David Mackie, Western
REC – Jacob Scarfone, Guelph
REC – Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo
REC – Chris Osei Kusi, Queen’s
REC – Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Laurier
C – Zach Annen, Carleton
T –David Brown, Western
T – Nolan McGreer, Carleton
G – Matt Bettencourt, Western
G – Andrew Pickett, Guelph

DT – Hassan Barry, McMaster
DT – Trevaughan James, Laurier
DE – Kene Onyeka, Carleton
DE – Mark Mackie, McMaster
LB – Jean Gabriel Poulin, Western
LB – Nelkas Kwemo, Queen’s
SAM – Nicolas Vanin, Western
FS – Wesley Man, Queen’s
HB – Nick Parisotto, Guelph
HB – Jackson Bennett, Ottawa
CB – Jamie Harry, Ottawa
CB – Godfrey Onyeka, Laurier

Special Teams
P – TJ Morton, Toronto
K – Gabriel Ferraro, Guelph
RET – Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Laurier
RUSH – Fraser Sopik, Western

Second Team

QB – Nate Hobbs, Queen’s
RB – Nathan Carter, Carleton
FB – Nikola Kalinic, York
REC – Daniel Petermann, McMaster
REC – Brentyn Hall, Laurier
REC – Harry McMaster, Western
REC – Phil Iloki, Carleton
C – Mark Wheatley, Western
T – Eric Starczala, Guelph
T – Chris Reddy, Laurier
G – KC Bakker, Carleton
G – Gregoire Bouchard, Western

DT – Cameron Lawson, Queen’s
DT – Jimmy Hawley, Western
DE – Robbie Smith, Laurier
DE – Rossini Sandjong-Djabome, York
LB – Fraser Sopik, Western
LB – Brandon Calver, Laurier
SAM – Kurtis Gray, Waterloo
FS – Jesse McNair, Western
HB – Isaiah Guzylak-Messam, Laurier
HB – Bleska Kambamba, Western
CB – Robbie Yochim, McMaster
CB – Hakeem Johnson, Western

Special Teams
P – Michael Domogala, Carleton
K – Marc Liegghio Western
RET – Jackson Bennett, Ottawa
RUSH –Godfrey Onyeka, Laurier