Dan Brannagan and Michael Faulds competed in the greatest quarterback duel in the history of Ontario University Athletics this past season. It is only fitting that these two Yates Cup pivots headline the list of 2009 OUA football all-stars.
Brannagan (Burlington) surpassed the all-time OUA passing yards record of 9,974 on Oct. 11 in a 43-21 victory over the Waterloo Warriors, a mark originally set by former McMaster Marauders’ great Ben Chapdelaine in 2001. In their head-to-head meeting on Oct. 17, both Brannagan and Faulds became the first two quarterbacks in OUA history to surpass 10,000 passing yards. Brannagan’s Gaels edged Faulds’ Mustangs 27-26 in a game that secured Queen’s first place in the OUA standings.
While Faulds (Eden Mills) was behind on the scoreboard that day, he passed Brannagan on the final lap of the regular season, establishing a new all-time OUA and Canadian Interuniversity Sport record of 10,811 yards, while also setting a new single season standard of 3,033 yards in a 47-0 victory against the Toronto Varsity Blues on Oct. 24. Brannagan finished with 10,714 passing yards for his career in a 25-13 loss to the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks that same day.
Both quarterbacks have at least one more chapter to write in their magnificent careers. Only one will lift the Yates Cup on Saturday, and only one will be named the OUA most valuable player at the OUA football awards ceremony on Thursday, and become a nominee for the Hec Crighton Award as the nation’s top university football player in 2009.
With Queen’s and Western battling for the 102nd Yates Cup presented by Pioneer Petroleums, it is not surprising to find Gaels and Mustangs among the OUA first-team all-stars. Guard Matt Norman (Montreal) of Western and tackle Matt O’Donnell (Kingston) of Queen’s provided plenty of protection for their respective quarterbacks, and are worthy of all-star recognition. Inside receiver Scott Valberg (Kingston) of Queen’s and who led OUA with 55 receptions and 913 receiving yards, and wide receiver Nic Trevail (London) of Western, both the beneficiaries of passes from their all-star quarterbacks, are first-team all-stars on offence. Another one of Faulds’ favourite targets, running back Nathan Riva (LaSalle), caught 25 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns to go along with his 606 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, is also a first-team all-star. Riva’s 15 touchdowns led OUA.
While both Western and Queen’s offences are impressive, as the old saying goes, defence wins championships. Both teams have some first-team all-stars on their side, with defensive end Osie Ukwuoma (Mississauga) and cornerback Jimmy Allin (Belleville) keeping offences honest for the Gaels, while linebacker John Surla (Niagara Falls) does likewise for the Mustangs. Ukwuoma had 17 total tackles during the 2009 regular season, including 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, one break-up and one forced fumble. Surla led the Mustangs with 50.5 tackles, averaging 6.3 per game. Queen’s linebacker Stephen Laporte (Ottawa) also receives special teams first-team all-star recognition as a rush/cover specialist.
A pair of players are named first-team all-stars at two positions. Dillon Heap (Waterloo) of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks set a CIS record with 912 punt return yards, and is the obvious choice as first-team kick returner. He also made a team-high 28 receptions for 592 yards and a pair of touchdowns, earning him a first-team all-star as inside receiver. Heap accumulated 2,041 all-purpose yards, 893 yards more than his closet pursuer. Rob Maver (Brampton) of the Guelph Gryphons is a first-team all-star punter and place kicker, leading OUA with a 92.9 percent accuracy in field goals as well as a league-leading 41.3 yard average in punts.
Other first-team all-stars along the offensive line include centre Matt Morencie (Windsor) of the Windsor Lancers, guard Justin Glover (Hamilton) of the McMaster Marauders and tackle Ryan Bomben (Burlington) of the Guelph Gryphons. Ottawa Gee-Gees wide receiver Cyril Adjeity (Ghana) and Guelph Gryphons running back Nick Fitzgibbon (Puslinch) round up the first-team offensive all-stars. Fitzgibbon scored 14 touchdowns in 2009.
The OUA first-team defensive all-stars are dominated by Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks, with six on the roster. Defensive tackle Steve Cormack (Waterloo), defensive end Paul Hancock (Cochrane, Alta.), SAM linebacker Giancarlo Rapanaro (Niagara Falls), defensive halfback Jordan Van Horn (Burlington), cornerback Taurean Allen (Etobicoke) and free safety Courtney Stephen (Brampton) all make the grade. Laurier was second in total defence in 2009, allowing opponents just 341.5 yards per game.
Completing the list of OUA first-team defensive starts are Ottawa Gee-Gees defensive tackle Sébastien Tétreault (Granby, Que.), McMaster Marauders linebacker Ryan Chmielewski (St. Catharines) and Guelph Gryphons defensive halfback James Savoie (Niagara Falls).
A number of players participating in this year’s Yates Cup are OUA second-team all-stars, including centre Dan Bederman (Toronto) and guard Vince DeCivita (Gormley) of Queen’s, tackle Josh Buttrill (Barrie) of Western, inside receiver Nick Pasic (London) of Western, place kicker Dan Village (Abbotsford, B.C.) of Queen’s, defensive tackle Chris Greaves (Mississauga.) of Western, SAM linebacker Connor Elliot (London, Ont.) of Western, defensive halfback David Rooney (Kingston) of Queen’s and free safety Craig Butler (London) of Western. Jimmy Allin, a first-team all-star as a cornerback, is a second-team all-star as a kick returner.
Other second-team all-stars on offence include guard Adam Bestard (Sarnia) of Laurier, tackle Matt Sewell (Milton) of McMaster, inside receiver Steve Hughes (Ottawa) of the Gee-Gees, wide receivers Jedd Gardner (Niagara Falls) of Guelph and Dustin Zender (Waterloo) of the Waterloo Warriors, running backs Jordan Wilson-Ross (Alliston) of the Gee-Gees and Mike Montoya (Burlington) of Laurier and punter Dave Sevigny (Peterborough) of the Warriors. Montoya led OUA with 847 rushing yards in 2009.
Additional defensive players who make the grade as second-team all-stars include defensive tackle Grant MacDonald (London) of the Gryphons, defensive ends Seamus Postuma (Thunder Bay) of the Lancers and Steve Cecchini (Thorold) of McMaster, linebackers Mike Cornell (Hamilton) of the Gee-Gees and Adam Dunk (Guelph.) of the Gryphons, defensive halfback Byron Metcalfe (Pickering) of McMaster, cornerbacks Chayce Elliot (Burnaby, B.C.) of the Gee-Gees and Cody Lynch (Stoney Creek) of McMaster and rush/cover Carlos Naranjo (Whitby) of Laurier.
OUA all-stars are selected by the 10 football head coaches across OUA. The major OUA football award winners will be honoured in Hamilton on Thursday, (Nov. 12) at 11:30 a.m.