QSSF Preview #5: Sinotte, Collin to lead McGill Redmen into battle
MONTREAL - The McGill Redmen embark upon 130th 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 Sherbrooke for the final playoff berth in the Quebec University Football League (QUFL).
Head coach Sonny Wolfe returns for his fourth season on the Redmen sideline and currently has more than 50 returning players in training camp (12 seniors, 20 juniors, 18 sophomores) to go along with 34 new faces.
For the first time since 2002, McGill will play an all-QUFL schedule due to the rotation of games with the Atlantic conference. The Redmen face every QUFL squad twice, with the exception of Bishop’s who they will play just once.
« I am pleased with how our offensive side of the game is looking with 10 returning starters,” says Wolfe. “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”
The Redmen have lost 10 starters from last year’s squad with eight of those departures coming 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 (Greenfield Park, Que.). Other keys to success will be the return of All-Canadian receiver Charles-Antoine Sinotte for a fifth season, plus QUFL all-star place-kicker Austin Anderson, the son of former NFL star kicker Gary Anderson.
Collin was named as the league’s rookie of the year in 2009 after taking over the starting pivot position in the second week of the campaign. He combined to run or pass for 15 of the 19 touchdowns the team scored last year. Collin averaged 191.1 passing yards per game in his first campaign while completing 145 of 288 passes attempted for 1,529 yards and eight touchdowns. He also rushed for seven touchdowns to establish a McGill single-season record.
Ryne Bondy (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Connor Ogilvie (Kelowna, B.C.) as well recruit Gianni Settino (Kirkland, Que.) are expected to battle for the no. 2 quarterback position on the depth chart.
Sinotte, one of eight returning receivers who saw action last year, is a three-time all-star wide-out who racked up 49 catches for 491 yards and five TDs in 2009, while establishing a CIS record for most career receptions with 199 in 30 games. Sinotte also holds the CIS single-season receptions record (72) and is expected to become the first player in CIS history to reach the 200-catch plateau in McGill’s opener at Laval.
Other returning receivers include Gabriel Aubry (Lanoraie, Que.) Thomas Fortin (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.
Among the freshmen receivers who may see action are Justine Edwards and Mike Chayka (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 and off-set 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 (St. Lazare, Que.), anchors the line along with sophomore left guard Junior Spera (Quebec City). At centre, veteran Jonathan Remegio (St. Leonard, Que.), will battle sophomore Robert Ravensbergen (Montreal) for a starting role.
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., who connected on 12 of 14 field goals in 2009, was the leading Redmen scorer with 53-points. Veteran Thomas Silva (Kingston, Ont.) who transferred from the University of Western Ontario is slated to handle the punting duties for McGill.
The defensive line features eight returnees who saw significant playing time. Senior rush end Courtney Bishop (Toronto), will anchor the left side along with senior tackle Ben Thompson, ( Fredericton, N.B.). Both played in the 2010 CIS East-West Bowl, a showcase for CFL draft hopefuls. Sophomore Simon Bosisio (Montreal) is expected to replace departing starter Darcy Pelosse at nosetackle, while junior Renaud Collard-Seguin (Bangor, Maine) returns at right end.
The linebacking corps, which has been inexperienced and undersized over the past three years, will feature a major overhaul. The only returning starter is junior Charles Peltrop (Montreal) who moves from outside to middle linebacker after registering 22 tackles last season, including a pair of QB sacks one interception and a knockdown.
The defensive backfield will also have a new look with the loss 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 junior can play both at halfback and corner. Also back is safety Patrick Bourgon ( Pointe-au-Chêne, Que.) who returns after a solid campaign (20.5 tackles) which culminated in an appearance at the CIS East-West Bowl.
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.
2009 in review:
Regular season record: 3-5
Regular season standings: rth
Playoff record: Did not qualify
Playoff result: Did not qualify
Coaching record – Sonny Wolfe
Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2010): 4
Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2010): 23
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 (Greenfield, Park, Que.)
WR Charles-Antoine Sinotte (Trois-Rivieres, Que.)
K Austin Anderson, (Canmore, Alta.)
RB Taylor Kuprowski (Kanata, Ont.)
OT Kwinton Albino, 6-5, 305, Mississauga, Ont.,
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
Defensive coordinator: Clinton Uttley
Key returning players:
DE Courtney Bishop (Toronto)
DT Ben Thompson (Fredericton, N.B)
DB Patrick Bourgon (Pointe-au-Chêne, Que.)
DB Joff Gorin (Montreal)
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
DB Greg Landry