Western’s 14 selections pace an impressive crop of all-stars on the gridiron

Photo by Western Mustangs
Photo by Western Mustangs

Burlington, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is pleased to announce the 2018 football first and second-team all-stars, with the reigning Yates Cup champions leading the pack once again this season.

In what has been another unparalleled campaign for the Western Mustangs, the No. 1 ranked squad checks in with 14 all-star selections from this year’s crop of purple ponies. Half of the selections reside on the first-team roster, and unsurprisingly, the group includes Cedric Joseph (Montreal, Que.) running his way on to the roster.

After finding another gear in last year’s postseason run, Joseph has maintained his menacing status with a conference leading 120.6 YPG and 12 touchdowns on the ground. Among the many highlights from his all-star campaign was a 355-yard performance against the Windsor Lancers to set the all-time mark for single-game rushing in the OUA. Joseph becomes the second straight Mustangs running back to earn the first-team recognition, but the team boasts countless strengths in addition to the run game.

Along with the team’s leading rusher, their top receiver also secures an all-star nod, as Harry McMaster (Niagara Falls, Ont.) reeled in 29 catches for 616 yards and seven touchdowns for Western this season. Doing his part to get the ball to McMaster, along with the complete arsenal of talented Mustangs’ receivers was QB Chris Merchant (Calgary, Alta.), and he’ll join six of his teammates as a second-team selection. The reigning Vanier Cup MVP tallied over 2,000 yards, with 17 touchdowns, and a blistering 73.1% completion rate to secure top-5 OUA ranks in all three categories and to provide a leading presence under centre for the nation’s top offence.

A trio of players who serve to protect Merchant on the line have also garnered all-star nods, as OT Dylan Giffen (Strathroy, Ont.) and G David Brown (London, Ont.) earn first-team recognition, while G Gregoire Bouchard (Chicoutimi, Que.) cracks the second-team roster.

Flipping to the defence, the Mustangs have also paced the nation with an average of just 11.1 points against per contest. Helping to keep those stingy numbers intact is Fraser Sopik (Toronto, Ont.), who led the purple and white with 38 tackles on the year. The senior linebacker also added a sack and an interception to his season-long resume, showcasing his ability to influence the game in many different ways.

Daniel Valente Jr. (London, Ont.) joins Sopik as a first-team selection, picking up a pair of picks and 25 tackles on the year, while Bleska Kambamba (London, Ont.), who also registered two interceptions this season, also earns a spot. Sopik’s fellow linebacker, Philippe Dion (Blainville, Que.), makes the second-team list, along with DT Mitchell Stadnyk (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.) and DE Andrew Thurston (London, Ont.), who round out the team’s defensive selections.

The team’s final all-star nods, a first-team and a second-team selection, come from one player, as Marc Liegghio (Woodbridge, Ont.) kicked his way onto both squads as a punter and place kicker, respectively. The junior averaged 42.5 yards per punt, while pinning the opposition inside the 20 a total of 14 times. He also connected on 86% of his field goals and each of his extra-point attempts to total an impressive 99-point campaign.

While the Mustangs’ seven first-team selections paced the conference, a five-player pool from the Waterloo Warriors sees them check in right behind, and at the heart of the team’s all-star standouts is QB Tre Ford (Niagara Falls, Ont.), who put the league on notice with his stat-stuffing campaign. Ford led the conference in touchdowns (27), competition percentage (74.1%), yards (2,822), and threw just two interceptions on the year. Add in the damage he did with his legs, which has him ranked sixth with 80.1 YPG, and Ford has proven to be one of the most dynamic and elite players that the OUA has to offer.

When unleashing the aerial attack, Ford’s familiar targets include a pair of fellow first-teamers, as Tyler Ternowski (Hamilton, Ont.) and Gordon Lam (Kitchener, Ont.) have turned their productive campaigns into conference recognition. The former has put the OUA, and all of U SPORTS, on notice that he is one of the elite pass-catchers in the game, leading the conference in passing yards (144.9 YPG) by more than 40 yards per contest and also setting the new OUA single-season touchdown record with 14. The latter, meanwhile, ranked second in the league with nearly 102 YPG and reeled in five of Ford’s touchdown passes on the year.

Tackle Jesse Gibbon (Hamilton, Ont.) and guard Ben Koczwara (London, Ont.) round out the black and gold’s first-team selections, while fellow lineman Kyle Boismier (London, Ont.) joins the second-team group. The team’s final representative, grabbing one of the second-team cornerback spots, is Tre’s twin brother Tyrell Ford (Niagara Falls, Ont.), who notched 16 tackles, one interception, and showcased his dual-threat ability in the return game.

Right down the street from the Warriors, the Laurier Golden Hawks also soar into awards season with the second-highest total among the OUA’s 11 squads. Headlining the team’s nine selections is two-time 2018 first-team all-star Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa, Ont.), who turned his dynamic season on both the Hawks’ offence and special teams into more hardware for the trophy case. His 99 receiving yards per game put him third in the conference, while his 64 receptions paced the group. Among the many spectacular grabs that highlighted his OUA-topping total was the 193rd of his career, which put him atop the all-time list for career receptions.

Gittens Jr.’s running mate in the receiving game, Brentyn Hall (Toronto, Ont.) claims a spot on the second team, picking up 511 yards, six touchdowns, and a number of highlight reel catches along the way. Another key cog in the Golden Hawks machine is RB Levondre Gordon (Mississauga, Ont.), who had followed up his career year with another productive campaign for Laurier with 785 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. Gordon’s backfield teammate, Mario Villamizar (St. Catharines, Ont.), also earns a second-team selection.

One of Laurier’s consistent calling cards is their talent on defence, which explains the four all-star selections on that side of the ball. Trevaughan James (Whitby, Ont.) makes a repeat appearance on the first team at the defensive tackle position and is joined on the squad by interception-happy Will Amoah (Kitchener, Ont.), who reeled in five picks (2nd in the OUA) this year. Scott Hutter (London, Ont.) brings his 32.5 tackles, two sacks, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and one interception to the second team and Robbie Smith (Brampton, Ont.) checks in as well with his team-leading three sacks.

Another team with an elite-level defence is the Guelph Gryphons, who can, in large part, thank the play of captain Lukas Korol (Dundas, Ont.) for their intimidating efforts against the opposition. The fifth-year linebacker led the country in tackles, totaling 74.5 on the year for an average of 9.3 per contest. His all-star campaign also featured three sacks, 8.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and an interception – as complete an effort as any defensive player this year. Brendan Murphy (Chateauguay, Que.) brings three sacks and nearly 40 tackles to the second team. Anchoring one of the more talented offensive lines in the league, meanwhile, is the duo of Colin Jerome (North Bay, Ont.) and Eric Starczala (Cambridge, Ont.). The veteran centre and tackle, respectively, both earn the all-star nod for their powerful and potent work up front, with the former claiming a spot on the first team and the latter checking in on the second. 

Another strength of the Guelph squad is on special teams, where they claim three of the eight positions. Kiondre Smith (Toronto, Ont.) shone in the return game, while A.J. Allen (Burlington, Ont.) stood out as a rush/cover. But just as he has throughout his OUA career, Gabe Ferraro (Mississauga, Ont.) once again stole the show for the Gryphons. He kicked his way into the record books this season, capping off his career as the all-time OUA leader in made field goals (91). He secured the record with his final kick in the regular season, a three-pointer that clinched his team’s spot in the postseason in a double-overtime thriller. Overall, Ferraro connected on 22 field goals and 86 points.

Like Guelph, the Ravens were flying high on the defensive side of the ball with five selections from the vaunted Carleton crew cracking the roster. Kene Onyeka (Brampton, Ont.) continues to be a leader on the Ravens defence, adding to his already impressive OUA resume with a league-leading seven sacks this season and 42 yards lost via these quarterback takedowns.

Also anchoring the defensive side of the ball is the conference’s second-leading tackler, Jack Cassar (Mississauga, Ont.), who bombarded the opposition with 62.5 on the year, including eight tackles for a loss. Tevin Bowen (Toronto, Ont.) completes the Carleton crew’s first-team trio. The combined 64 tackles and five interceptions from James McCallum (Mississauga, Ont.) and Jonathan Edouard (Orlando, FL), meanwhile, spark the black birds’ second-team numbers. The latter also added on three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble on the year.

The second squad that calls the nation’s capital home also sees some of their top contributors crack the first-team roster, with perhaps none having as much of an impact as Jamie Harry (Lachine, Que.). The league-leader in interceptions (6) got his hands on just about everything thrown his way and made it nearly impossible for quarterbacks to get the better of him. Another disruption in the passing game was Luke Griese (Newmarket, Ont.), who totaled an impressive four picks for the Gee-Gees. The defensive back wreaked havoc in more ways than one; however, as he also tacked on 34 tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble.

While those two limited the opposition’s passing efforts, a teammate of theirs was very much in favour of wracking up the passing yards this season. Carter Matheson (Kingston, Ont.) led the team with 40 catches for 664 yards to average nearly 17 yards per catch. He maintained his status as a consistent deep threat and also prominent scoring threat, with six touchdowns to his name this season. Zachary Pelehos (Gananoque, Que.) grabs the final Gee-Gees selection for his efforts on the offensive line.

Also getting tabbed for four all-star selections are the York Lions, two of which belong to Nikola Kalinic (Toronto, Ont.). The fourth-year player earns a spot as fullback and rush/cover on the first-team, joining teammate Rossini Sandjong-Djabome (Longueuil, Que.) on the squad. The junior was a menace when it came to pushing teams back, picking up four sacks and nine tackles for a loss.

The Lions’ second-team recipient has bounced back in a big way after missing much of the 2017 season. In seven games this year, Colton Hunchak (Calgary, Alta.) came back with an average of 87.1 yards per game and six touchdowns, coming in on the receiving end of 58 tosses from his brother, Brett.

Like York, Queen’s sees all-star representation in each facet of the game, all residing on the second-team roster. Matteo Del Brocco (Kingsville, Ont.) was a focal point for Nate Hobbs and the Gaels’ offence, as the senior receiver hauled in 35 catches for 659 yards and six touchdowns. A focal point on the defensive side, meanwhile, is DL Cameron Lawson (Caledon, Ont.), who brought down the opposition’s signal-caller four times, while also registering 32 tackles. Kicker Nick Liberatore (Dartmouth, N.S.) gets the punting nod on the second team after racking up over 2,400 punt yards for an average of 41.5 per kick.

Windsor checks in with a pair of all-stars on the second team. Drew Desjarlais (Belle River, Ont.) gets the nod at guard, while Daniel Metcalfe (Kingsville, Ont.) was among the best at the linebacker position. The latter Lancer ranked third in the conference in tackles (60), along with two sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, and an interception, but his unique skillset made him a menace when it came to forcing fumbles. He led the OUA with five on the season, recovering two.

The final all-star, and the lone representative from the Marauders, is junior Noah Hallett (London, Ont.). Along with his two interceptions, the defensive back had five additional pass break-ups, a forced fumble and recovery, and a solid 25.5 tackles for McMaster.

The complete list of 2018 football first and second-team all-stars is as follows:

First-Team All-Stars

Quarterback – Tre Ford, Waterloo
Running Back – Cedric Joseph, Western
Full Back – Nikola Kalinic, York
Receiver – Tyler Ternowski, Waterloo
Receiver – Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Laurier
Receiver – Gordon Lam, Waterloo
Receiver – Carter Matheson, Ottawa
Centre – Colin Jerome, Guelph
Tackle – Jesse Gibbon, Waterloo
Tackle – Dylan Giffen, Western
Guard – David Brown, Western
Guard – Ben Koczwara, Waterloo

Defensive Tackle – Trevaughan James, Laurier
Defensive Tackle – Tevin Bowen, Carleton
Defensive End – Kene Onyeka, Carleton
Defensive End – Rossini Sandjong-Djabome, York
Linebacker – Lukas Korol, Guelph
Linebacker – Jack Cassar, Carleton
Sam Linebacker – Fraser Sopik, Western
Free Safety – Daniel Valente Jr., Western
Halfback – Will Amoah, Laurier
Halfback – Noah Hallett, McMaster
Cornerback – Jamie Harry, Ottawa
Cornerback – Bleska Kambamba, Western

Special Teams
Punter – Marc Liegghio, Western
Kicker – Gabriel Ferraro, Guelph
Returner – Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Laurier
Rush / Cover – Nikola Kalinic, York

Second-Team All-Stars

Quarterback – Chris Merchant, Western
Running Back – Levondre Gordon, Laurier
Full Back – Mario Villamizar, Laurier
Receiver – Harry McMaster, Western
Receiver – Colton Hunchak, York
Receiver – Matteo Del Brocco, Queen’s
Receiver – Brentyn Hall, Laurier
Centre – Kyle Boismier, Waterloo
Tackle – Eric Starczala, Guelph
Tackle – Zachary Pelehos, Ottawa
Guard – Gregoire Bouchard, Western
Guard – Drew Desjarlais, Windsor

Defensive Tackle – Cameron Lawson, Queen’s
Defensive Tackle – Mitchell Stadnyk, Western
Defensive End – Andrew Thurston, Western
Defensive End – Robbie Smith, Laurier
Linebacker – Daniel Metcalfe, Windsor
Linebacker – Philippe Dion, Western
Sam Linebacker – Scott Hutter, Laurier
Free Safety – Luke Griese, Ottawa
Halfback – Brendan Murphy, Guelph
Halfback – James McCallum, Carleton
Cornerback – Jonathan Edouard, Carleton
Cornerback – Tyrell Ford, Waterloo

Special Teams
Punter – Nick Liberatore, Queen’s
Kicker – Marc Liegghio, Western
Returner – Kiondre Smith, Guelph
Rush / Cover – A.J. Allen, Guelph

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