2010 OUA football major awards announced

Photo credit Lévy L. Marquis

HAMILTON, Ont. – Ontario leading passer Brad Sinopoli headlines this year's Ontario University Athletics (OUA) football major awards as 2010 most valuable player, the nominee for the CIS Hec Crighton trophy. Ottawa Gee-Gees quarterback Sinopoli (Peterborough, Ont.) was no doubt the most valuable of the 2010 football season after leading his Gee-Gees to a first place finish in the regular season, a berth in the Yates Cup final, and finishing first in a number of categories in all of Canada.

Sinopoli averaged 344.5 yards per game and completed 184 of 301 passes, good for a 61 per cent passing average. His 2,756 yards and 22 touchdowns helped Ottawa become the best offence in Ontario in 2010. The quarterback also knows how to run the ball, leading Ottawa in rushing, covering 534 yards in 42 attempts and scored one touchdown on the ground.

He now sits sixth in the CIS record book for most passing yards in a single season. Sinopoli finished first in OUA and CIS for passing yards, touchdown passes and completions for 2010 and is arguably the best quarterback in the country. Brad is only the sixth Gee-Gee to win the MVP award and he was named a First-Team All-Star for the first time in his career.

Winning the standup defensive player of the year award, the nominee for the CIS Presidents' trophy, was Giancarlo Rapanaro (Niagara Falls, Ont.) of the Laurier Golden Hawks. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers draft pick returned to Laurier for his fifth and final year. The veteran linebacker recorded 23 solo tackles and nine assisted tackle this season. Rapanaro also picked off quarterbacks twice this year and ran them back for a total of 90 yards.

He also recorded three pass breakups and a forced fumble. On his one fumble recovery this season, the Hawk ran it back for a touchdown.

The addition of his two sacks in 2010 ranks Rapanaro second on the all-time career sacks list for Laurier with 16.5. He sits fifth-place all-time at Laurier with 130.5 career tackles and is the ninth Hawk to receive the President's Trophy.

The J.P. Metras award for lineman of the year was awarded to Matt O'Donnell (Kingston, Ont.), the biggest player in college football, standing at 6'10'' and weighing in at 329 lbs., O'Donnell was selected as a CIS First-Team All-Canadian last year with his play as a junior for Queen's. His size alone makes him one of the most imposing tackles in the CIS.

O'Donnell's ability as a pass protector on the left side puts him in a class all by himself and his presence on perimeter run plays is undeniable. His nasty disposition for an offensive lineman is in very high demand at the highest levels of football.

The fifth-year is currently ranked in the top five Canadian prospects by the CFL and has attracted NFL interest. O'Donnell becomes the fifth Gael to win the J.P. Metras Trophy for outstanding work as a lineman.

Queen's named another player to the major awards list this year. Freshman Sam Sabourin (Stittsville, Ont.) earned the Norm Marshall award for rookie of the year. Sabourin made a seamless transition into OUA becoming a starter on defence and special teams in all eight games in the regular season for the Gaels.

The rookie set a number of Queen's school records in 2010 including most tackles in a season with 64, most tackles for loss with nine, most solo tackles in a season with 50 and most tackles in a single game with 13.

Sam was ranked third on the CIS list for tackles in the regular season and had two sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles. The rookie is only the third Gael to win the award, the last being famed quarterback Danny Brannagan (Burlington, Ont.) in 2005.

The Russ Jackson Nominee is a name put forward by OUA for the award presented annually by the CIS to the player who best exemplifies the attributes of academic achievement, football skill and citizenship. This year, OUA's nominee is Dillon Heap (Waterloo, Ont.) of the Laurier Golden Hawks. The fourth-year has broke a number of school records over his career with the Hawks, and finished the 2010 regular season with 41 receptions, good for 466 yards and five touchdowns.

Heap was not only a receiver for the Hawks, but also a punt and kick returner. The Hawk had 34 punt returns for 350 yards and seven kickoff returns for 139 yards .His punt and kick return yardage totals 489 and overall accumulated 992 yards combined. Last year, the Hawk set a CIS record for punt return yardage with 350 yards in a season, averaging 15.59 per return.

Heap has been an ideal student during his tenure at Wilfrid Laurier University. He is among the top of his class in Laurier's business program and has twice been named a CIS Academic All-Canadian. Last year, he received Laurier's 2009-10 Luke Fusco Academic Athletic Achievement Award for his achievements in both the classroom and on the field.

He does extensive work within the community of Waterloo and completed a two year mission in Concepcion, Chile. Heap also serves as the executive secretary for President James A. McBride of the Kitchener Ontario Stake, teaches Sunday school at the branch, and is the president of the Latter-Day Saints Association at Wilfrid Laurier. As president, Dillon acts as the liaison between the university and the Kitchener Ontario Institute of Religion in order to hold weekend classes on campus. Before this, Dillon also served as the President of Elders Quorum in the Kitchener 3rd Young Single Adult Branch, leading 20 peers for a year.

The Dave "Tuffy" Knight award for Coach of the Year was awarded to Greg Marshall of the Western Mustangs. As the seventh head coach of the Western Mustangs, Marshall has led Western to four Yates Cup appearances, having won two of those three contests, and going for this third in 2010. His career regular season record with Western is 24-8 including 2010 games. His consistency to lead his teams to Yates Cup appearances is tremendous.

As a head coach, this will be Marshall's eighth consecutive Yates Cup appearance, four of those with Western, and four with McMaster from 2000-2003. This is Greg's third OUA Coach of the Year award. His last were won coaching McMaster in 1999 and 2000.

Defensive line coach Bob Vespaziani of the Queen's Gaels took home the Volunteer Coach of the Year award for 2010. The former CFL coach and general manager has graciously volunteered his time as an assistant coach with the Queen's University football program. Bob's arrival at Queen's marked a new era for the tri-colour defensive line. Over the past three years Bob has coached four players who arguably became the best at their position in the OUA or CIS. The four include Neil Puffer (Edmonton Eskimos), Dee Sterling (Edmonton Eskimos), Shomari Williams (Saskatchewan Roughriders) and Osi Ukwuoma who remains the property of the Calgary Stampeders while he completes his first year of Law School at Queen's. Bob's influence on the next generation of defensive linemen at Queen's has also been profound. The next generation Force Unit at Queen's has already made some observers take notice.

The Officials Award of Merit went to Murray Drinkwalter. The Detective Sergeant for the Halton Regional Police Service is also the Vice-President of the OUA Football Officials Association and was the head referee at the 102nd Yates Cup and CIS Mitchell Bowl, both held at Richardson Stadium in Kingston last fall.

His dedication to OUA football is evident on and off the field. He watches game tape in order to evaluate himself and improve from game to game. For over ten years Drinkwalter has been an integral part of each OUA football season, and stands out as one of the most elite official in the league.

All the 2010 major award winners were honoured today at a press conference in Hamilton.

2010 OUA FOOTBALL MAJOR AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Player – Brad Sinopoli (Ottawa)
President's Trophy (Stand-up Defensive Player of the Year) – Giancarlo Rapanaro (Laurier)
J.P. Metras (Linemen of the Year) – Matt O'Donnell (Queen's)
Norm Marshall (Rookie of the Year) – Sam Sabourin (Queen's)
Russ Jackson Nominee – Dillon Heap (Laurier)
Dave "Tuffy" Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall (Western)
Volunteer Coach of the Year – Bob Vespaziani (Queen's)
Officials Award of Merit – Murray Drinkwalter

– OUA –

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