Burlington, Ont. – Chris Merchant, Fraser Sopik, and Marc Liegghio have been named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Football Players of the Week for the period ending November 18, 2018.
Offence: Chris Merchant, Western Mustangs
It was clear early on that it would take a heroic effort from Chris Merchant under centre to lead his Mustangs to the Mitchell Bowl victory, and the Western quarterback provided just that.
The Saskatchewan Huskies came at him early, laying not one, but two massive hits on the Yates Cup MVP, but like a champion, there was no quit in Merchant, as his resiliency and desire to play won out and helped him lead his team to victory. In the air, Merchant threw for 251 yards, completing 17-of-28 passes. He also connected on a pair of TDs – both to Harry McMaster – to help get the Mustangs’ offence in order early on. Like he did in the Yates Cup the week prior, however, the Calgary, Alta. native also did damage with his legs, as Merchant tacked on 10 rushes for 82 yards and a touchdown, despite noticeably feeling the effects of what was a physical semifinal affair.
Thanks to his effort, Merchant was awarded MVP honours for the second straight game, this time taking home the Maury L. Van Vliet Trophy as the Mitchell Bowl’s top player.
Defence: Fraser Sopik, Western Mustangs
Like he has been all season long, Western’s Fraser Sopik was all over the field on Saturday, stymieing the Saskatchewan offence whenever he could to help lead his Mustangs to the win.
The Saskatchewan offence got off to a sizzling start and looked primed to turn in a top performance against an electrifying defence, but the OUA’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player was quick to turn the tables back in Western’s favour. Sopik provided the shut-down play whenever Western needed it most, picking up a game-high 11 tackles along the way. Not only did his total pace the pack in the Mitchell Bowl, it was also nearly double the tackling total of any Saskatchewan player on the day.
To round out his impactful performance, Sopik also got in on a sack of Huskies QB Kyle Siemens, and as always, was part of the high-powered engine that helped the Mustangs gallop on to another Vanier Cup appearance.
Special Teams: Marc Liegghio, Western Mustangs
For the second straight week, the Western Mustangs did not need to rely on the trustworthy boot of Marc Liegghio very often, but once again, the purple ponies’ kicker came through each time he stepped on the field to tally a nine-point output on the day.
It was another lone field goal effort for Liegghio, who used a 37-yarder to tie the game up at 17-apiece in the first half, but he also added on a perfect 6-for-6 showing in extra point attempts and was masterful in the punting game. His nine punts went for a total of 388 yards – an average of 43.1 per attempt – including a long of 55 yards to help give his side the edge in the field position battle.