May 10, 2024

Ferguson: 5 things to note ahead of the 2024 East-West Bowl

Manitoba Bisons

One of my absolute favourite events of the the Canadian football calendar is the annual East-West Bowl featuring the top U SPORTS talent available for the following year’s CFL Draft.

Why is this such a marquee event in my opinion, despite not getting as much mainstream love as it should?

First and foremost, it’s a significant step towards a potential CFL career. With many building blocks already laid down through collegiate careers, the East-West Bowl becomes confirmation of a players current excellence AND future potential as they line up alongside their fellow All-Canadians and future top draft picks.

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The practices are actually more important than the game itself, which makes for a challenging psychological experience for players who are typically taught to build up towards game day as the week goes along in-season. Sure, the game still matters and the week still follows a predictable rhythm of playbook install, refinement, treatment and film review, but there are just so many reps available in practice to stand out that it really makes the difference. That is why I headed up to Waterloo on Thursday to see the action in person.

Finally, I played – not well – in this thing back in 2013. I experienced the camaraderie developed as players become fast friends and live in dorms socializing with many names they’ve only seen on film or stat sheets over the last few years. It’s a unique event which – despite playing poorly – I came away from thankful to have been part of.

With all that in mind, here are my top five notes ahead of Saturday’s kickoff.


One of the first things I notice when stepping on an East-West field is positional groups that jump out for size, length and overall body type or build.

The Team West quarterbacks are a stunning group for all this and more. 2023 OUA MVP Taylor Elgersma (six-foot-six and 220 pounds) leads the way, but recent CFL Combine underclassmen Jackson Tachinski (six-foot-four, 215 pounds) and McMaster’s Keegan Hall (six-foot-four, 210 pounds) holds his own.

All three have big arms, quick snappy releases and if they approach the game knowing it’s about setting up those around them and managing a one-off huddle, I think they’ll all have a solid game Saturday.


Speaking of Jackson’s, Western Mustangs defensive back Jackson Findlay is an absolute monster.

With a previously listed six-foot-three, 201-pound frame, he moves extremely well and will likely be hot on the heels of McGill defensive back Benjamin Labrosse’s 2024 CFL Draft fourth overall draft slot by the time he reaches 2025 draft night.


East-West is a great chance to chat with U SPORTS coaches about goals for the event. For years, there have been ideas on how to tweak the format, rules or eligibility. The most interesting to me being the event becoming less about every school getting representation and more about inviting the best players – regardless of year – to show what they have.

That and the concept of making it an All-Canadian All-Star game with automatic invites to anyone being honoured the previous November could signal an evolution.


It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have so many quality facilities across U SPORTS and the OUA, but Waterloo from front door to end zone is elite.

The indoor field house is connected to anything and everything the players and coaches could need plus there is a field worthy of your NCAA video game custom venue dream. This leads to a fantastic venue for players to maximize their growth with no concerns about surroundings.

I always enjoy making the trip to Warrior Field and believe the attached indoor facility has set the standard in many ways across the country.


Someone wiser than me – Duane Forde – could likely explain the lineage of this, but there is absolutely a resurgence at the tight end position happening. I understand things are often cyclical, but we are really starting to see more and more prospects with true tight end, pass-catching body types.

This year that is Queen’s Niklas Henning who measures in around six-foot-six and 255 pounds. If you’re looking for a more traditional fullback, this year’s East-West Bowl will feature Montreal Carabins Natan Girouard-Langlois (six-foot, 246 pounds).

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