MONTREAL — The McGill Redmen have embarked upon their 129th year of football and are coming off a 3-5 fifth-place finish and the short end of a three-way tie with Concordia and Bishop’s for the final playoff berth in the Quebec University Football League. Head coach Sonny Wolfe has returned for his fourth season behind the Redmen bench. His 2010 training camp squad currently features 50 returnees (12 seniors, 20 juniors, 18 sophomores) to go along with 34 new faces.
This season, the Quebec conference will engage in an expanded nine-game schedule before playoffs. For the first time since an interlocking regular season schedule began in 2002, McGill has no games slated against the Atlantic conference. Instead, they will play Laval, Montreal Concordia and Sherbrooke twice apiece, with a single contest against Bishop’s. The Redmen will open their campaign with a pre-season affair at the University of Toronto on Aug. 28. It will mark their first meeting with the Varsity Blues since 1992 in a long-standing rivalry that dates back to 1884. The 2010 regular season begins the following week when McGill travels to Laval on Sept. 5, followed by their home opener against Bishop’s on Sept. 11.
The Redmen have lost 10 starters, eight of them on defence. High-profile losses include all-conference running back Andrew Hamilton in addition to veteran defensive backs Greg Landry and Anthony Lukca, a three-time all-star who has returned to serve the team in a coaching capacity.
The offensive side of McGill’s game will once again be their strength, sparked by a veteran offensive line to protect sophomore quarterback Jonathan Collin. Other keys to success will be the return of All-Canadian receiver Charles-Antoine Sinotte for a fifth season, plus all-conference place-kicker Austin Anderson, the son of former NFL star kicker Gary Anderson.
Collin, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound pivot from Greenfield Park, Que., was named as the league’s rookie of the year in 2009. He broke into the lineup in Week 1, became a starter during the second week and combined to run or pass for 15 of the 19 TDs scored by the Redmen last year. Collin led the league in touchdowns scored with seven rushing majors in eight games, establishing single-season school records for most TDs by a freshman and most by a quarterback. In the air, he completed 145 of 288 pass attempts for 1,529 yards, eight TDs and 10 interceptions, averaging 191.1 passing yards per game. On the ground, he carried 40 times for 206 yards and a 5.2 rushing average.
Backing-up Collin at quarterback will be a couple of returning British Columbians: Ryne Bondy, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior from Richmond and sophomore Connor Ogilvie of Kelowna. Among the recruits is Gianni Settino of Kirkland, Que., a 6-foot-5, 210- pound product of the St. Leonard Cougars.
Sinotte, one of eight returning receivers who saw action last year, is a three-time allstar wide-out who measures six-feet and weighs 185. Last year, he racked up 49 catches for 91 yards and five TDs, establishing a CIS record for most career receptions with 199 in 30 games. Sinotte, who caught 18 passes in a game during his sophomore season, also holds the CIS single-season receptions record (72) and is expected to become the first layer in CIS history to reach the 200-catch plateau in McGill’s opener at Laval.
Other returning receivers who saw action last year include Gabriel Aubry (19 rec., 170 yds) of Lanoraie, Que., Thomas Fortin (16 rec., 130 yds., 1 TD) of Gatineau, Que., Patrick Dodd (14 rec., 170 yds, 1 TD) of Calgary, Bobby Mikelberg (12 rec., 126 yds) of Montreal, Mathieu Guerette (9 rec., 81 yds) of Charny, Que., Louis Lafrenière-Dupont (5 rec., 78 yds) of Trois-Rivieres, Que., Marc-Etienne Villeneuve (2 rec., 21 yds), Michael Chitayat (2 rec., 20 yds) of Montreal and Mathieu Walsh-Moreau (1 rec., 19 yds) of Ottawa.
Among the freshmen who may see action are Justine Edwards and Mike Chayka, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound receiver from Burnaby, B.C., who played junior with the Vancouver Trojans.
The loss of running back Andrew Hamilton (854 yds., 117 carries, 7.3 avg., 3 TD), should be offset by Collin’s rushing prowess, buoyed by the return of junior Taylor Kuprowski, a 5-foot -10, 215-pound tailback from Kanata, Ont., who averaged 5.8 per carry with 366 yards on 63 touches.
Freshmen Frédéric Rochon and Shawn Murphy are also candidates to play. Rochon, who measures 5-11 and weighs 205, joins the Redmen out of College Lionel-Groulx. Murphy is a 5-foot-10, 210-pound star from the Ottawa Sooners junior team.
A veteran offensive line returns primarily intact, losing only starter Paul Reinlein at centre. Fifth-year left tackle Michael Pilon (6-5, 275) of St. Lazare, Que., anchors the line along with sophomore left guard Junior Spera (6-1, 335) of Quebec City. At centre, veteran Jonathan Remegio (6-3, 285) from St. Leonard, Que., will battle sophomore centre Robert Ravensbergen (6-4, 295) of Montreal for a starting role. The right side of the o-line will feature fifth-year right guard Jonathan Bower (6-4, 270) of Calgary and right tackle Cam Stockman (6-6, 275), a junior from Coquitlam, B.C. Also slated to see action is Scott Giroux, a 6-foot-6, 340-pound senior from Kingston, Ont.
Waiting in the wings is Dan Boyes (6-2, 255), a sophomore from Mount Albert, Ont. One new face anticipated to step in and play is 23-year-old Matt Fernandes, a 6-foot, 300-pound Montrealer who played junior football for the St. Leonard Cougars. Another newcomer to look for is 21-year-old Kwinton Albino, a 6-5, 305-pound offensive tackle from Mississauga, Ont., who played junior with the Mississauga Warriors.
The overall kicking game will be in good shape for the first time in years with the return of place-kicker Austin Anderson, a junior from Canmore, Alta., and the addition of veteran punter Thomas Silva, a Kingston, Ont., native who has transferred over from the University of Western Ontario.
Anderson connected on 12 of 14 field goals for an 85.7 per cent success rate last year. The 21-year-old commerce major also led the Redmen in scoring with 53 points in eight contests, including 36 points on field goals, 15 on conversions and a pair of rouges.
The defensive line features eight returnees who saw significant playing time. Senior rush end Courtney Bishop, a 6-foot-2, 222-pounder from Toronto, will anchor the left side along with senior tackle Ben Thompson, a 21-year-old from Fredericton, N.B. Both played in the 2010 CIS East-West Bowl, a showcase for CFL draft hopefuls. Sophomore Simon Bosisio (6-2, 285) of Montreal is expected to replace departing starter Darcy Pelosse at nosetackle, while junior Renaud Collard-Seguin (6-3, 240) of Bangor, Maine returns at right end.
Other vets who will be rotated into the mix include juniors David Beauchamp (6-1, 235) of Les Coteaux, Que., David Daumec (6-2, 280) of Montreal and Alexandre Hutchison (6-3, 235) of Beaconsfield, Que., in addition to sophomore Thomas Corkery (6-5, 240) of Berwick, Ont., who has moved over from the o-line.
The linebacking corps, which has been inexperienced and undersized over the past three years, will feature a major overhaul. The only returning starter is Charles Peltrop, a 5-foot-11, 230-pound junior from Montreal who has moved from outside to middle linebacker after registering 22 tackles last season, including a pair of QB sacks one interception and a knockdown.
Vying for a starting role will be sophomore Tyler Lavin-Brown, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound senior from Nanaimo, B.C. Freshmen expected to step up and play a role include Jesse Briggs (6-2, 215) of Kelowna, B.C., Brendan Carrière (6-1, 230) of Richmond, B.C., Ian Sheriff (5-10, 205) of Toronto and Montrealer Alex Bernard (6-1, 210) from College Montmorency.
The defensive backfield will also have a new look with the l
oss of four starters Anthony Lukca (29 tackles) and Alexis Paquin at halfback, plus Greg Landry (3 INT, 5 knockdowns) and Mike Edem (1 INT, 3 knockdowns) at cornerback. The key returnee is Joff Gorin (32 tackles, 4 knockdowns) of Montreal, who was the team’s only DB to start at the same position in all eight games last season. The 5- foot- 10, 195-pound junior can play both at halfback and corner. Also back is safety Patrick Bourgon, a 22-year-old from Pointe-au-Chêne, Que., returns after a solid campaign (20.5 tackles) which culminated in an appearance at the CIS East-West Bowl.
Other returnees expected to battle for a starting role include senior Bob Lefebvre of Montreal, plus juniors Matt Quigley of Ottawa and Zech Miller of Toronto in addition to sophomore Max Bauer from Nanaimo, B.C.
A newcomer to watch for is speedy Jeff Thompson, a transfer from Simon Fraser University, who previously received a Sugar Bowl ring during his redshirted season (2005) with the West Virginia Mountaineers. Thompson will be McGill’s prime return man on special teams. He averaged 18.1 yards on kickoffs and 10.0 yards on punt returns in six games with SFU last year.
Among the key freshmen to watch for are Stephan Osman (6-1, 205), a Montreal native out of Vanier College and Mattey Ossom of Dorval, Que., who played at John Abbott College. Other rookies expected to make an impact are Zach Lord out of College de Trois-Rivieres and Francis Bradette from College Montmorency.
Head coach Sonny Wolfe on the team: “I am pleased with how our offensive side of the game is looking with 10 returning starters. However, we still have a few questions to answer on defence and special teams but we had a good recruiting year and I am expecting us to be in contention for a playoff berth”
2009 in review:
2009 regular season record: 3-5
2009 regular season standings: 5th of 6 teams
2009 playoff record: 0-0
2009 playoff finish: (did not qualify)
Head Coach- Sonny Wolfe
Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2010): 4th season
Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2010): 23rd season
Career regular season record with team: 3-21-0
Career regular season record in CIS: 86-84-0
Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 3-21-0
Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 89-97-0
Offensive Coordinator: Sonny Wolfe
Key returning players:
QB Jonathan Collin, QB, sophomore, Greenfield, Park, Que., QUFL rookie of the year; was in on 15 of McGill’s 19 TDs (8 passing, 7 rushing; 145 completions, 288 attempts, 1529 yards, 50.3 completion ratio, 10 INTs)
WR Charles-Antoine Sinotte, 5th year senior, Trois-Rivieres, Que., QUFL all-star (49 receptions, 491 yds., 10.0 avg., 5 TDs)
K Austin Anderson, junior, Canmore, Alta., QUFL all-star, led team with 53 points (went 12-for-14 on field goals)
RB Taylor Kuprowski, junior, Kanata, Ont. (63 carries, 366 yds., 5.8 avg., 0TD)
OT Kwinton Albino, 6-5, 305, Mississauga, Ont., Mississauga Warriors
OL Matt Fernandes, 6-0, 300, Montreal, Que., St. Leonard Cougars
REC Mike Chayka, 5-11, 185, Burnaby, BC, Vancouver Trojans
REC Justene Edwards, 6-5, 240, Hamilton, Ont., South Surrey Rams
RB Shawn Murphy, 5-10, 210, Ottawa, Ont., Ottawa Sooners
RB Frédéric Rochon, 5-11, 205, Laval, Que., College Lionel-Groulx
RB Andrew Hamilton, conference all-star (7GP:117 carries, 854 yds., 7.3 avg., 3TDs)
Defensive Coordinator – Clinton Uttley
Key returning players:
DE Courtney Bishop, 2nd yr transfer, Toronto, (25.5 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1.5sacks, 1 KD)
DT Ben Thompson, Fredericton, N.B. (44.5 total tackles, 11.5 TFL, 4.5 QB sacks)
DB Patrick Bourgon, Pointe-au-Chêne, Que. (20.5 tackles, 16 solo tackles)
DB Joff Gorin, junior, Montreal, Que., (32 tackles, 4 knockdowns)
LB Jesse Briggs, 6-2, 215, Kelowna, BC, Vanier College
LB Brendan Carrière, 6-1, 230, Richmond, BC, Hugh Boyd Secondary
LB Ian Sheriff, 5-10, 205, Toronto, Ont., St. Michael’s College School
DB Stephan Osman, 6-1, 205, Montreal, Que, Vanier College
DB Mattey Ossom, 5-11, 190, Dorval, Que., John Abbott College
DB Jeff Thompson, DB, Kingston, Ont., 3rd yr transfer from Simon Fraser University
DB Anthony Lukca, (209 career tackles in five seasons)
DB Greg Landry, (3 INTs, 5 knockdowns, 2 fumble recoveries, 25.5 tackles)