Offensive linemen Matt Sewell from the McMaster Marauders and Kirby Fabien from the University of Calgary Dinos have been selected to represent Canadian Interuniversity Sport football in the 88th edition of the prestigious East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, live on NFL Network. The game will also be streamed online at www.shrinegame.com.
Sewell, who hails from Milton, is the third Marauder to make the trip down south for the annual showcase.
This past season, his fourth with McMaster, the 6-foot-8, 335-pound tackle was voted to the second all-Canadian squad for the second straight campaign and helped the Marauders repeat as Ontario University Athletics champions and return to the Vanier Cup final, a year after they claimed the first national title in program history. Thanks in large part to his stellar play, Mac’s offence topped the Ontario conference and ranked second in the country in points, total yards and passing yards per contest.
Sewell was the top-ranked CIS player, second overall, on the latest CFL Scouting Bureau prospect list (Dec.12) for the league’s 2013 Canadian Draft.
A native of Calgary, Fabien will be the 11th Dino to suit up in the Shrine Game, most among CIS schools.
In 2012, in his fourth university season, the 6-foot-6, 295-pound senior was named an all-Canadian for the third time – including first-team nods each of the past two years – after he helped the Dinos capture an unprecedented fifth consecutive Canada West title. He was a key part of an offensive unit that led the country in points, total yards and passing yards per game, while finishing third in rushing.
Fabien was selected in the first round, seventh overall, in the 2012 CFL Canadian Draft by the B.C. Lions.
In St. Petersburg, Sewell (East) and Fabien (West) will get a chance to play for a pair of high-profile coaches.
The East team will be led by Jerry Glanville, whose coaching career in the NCAA and NFL spanned over five decades. The 71-year-old got his start at Western Kentucky in 1967 and landed his first job in the professional ranks with the Detroit Lions in 1974. He would remain in the NFL until 1993, including head coaching stints with Houston (1986-1989) and Atlanta (1990-1993). After 12 years away from the sidelines, Glanville returned to the NCAA for two seasons as defensive coordinator at Hawaii (2005-2006) and three campaigns as head coach with Portland State (2007-2009).
Leeman Bennett will be in charge of the West troops. The 74-year-old served as a head coach in the NFL for eight seasons, including six with Atlanta (1977-1982) and two with Tampa Bay (1985-1986). Bennett made his coaching debut back in 1961 as an assistant with Kentucky and remained in the NCAA until 1970, when he joined the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals as their offensive backs coach. He was also an assistant with Detroit and the Los Angeles Rams before taking the helm of the Falcons in 1977.
The Shrine Game has been played annually since 1925 to raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children and to raise awareness about the expert orthopedic, burn, spinal cord injury rehabilitation, as well as cleft lip and palate care, available at no charge to patients and families through the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Since 1985, CIS has been represented annually by two players at the event which features over 100 all-stars from US universities, with the exception of 1985 (1), 2008 (4) and 2012 (3).
The impressive list of past CIS standouts invited to the Shrine Game includes current NFL defensive linemen Israel Idonije of the Chicago Bears and Akiem Hicks of the New Orleans Saints, who starred at the University of Manitoba and University of Regina, respectively; former NFLers Mike Schad (Queen’s), Randy Chevrier (McGill), Dan Federkeil (Calgary) and Samuel Giguère (Sherbrooke); as well as Hec Crighton Trophy winners Don Blair (Calgary), Kojo Aidoo (McMaster), Jesse Lumsden (McMaster) and Andy Fantuz (Western Ontario).
Highlighting the list of NFL greats who have participated in the event are Tom Brady, Brett Favre, John Elway, Gale Sayers, Dick Butkus, Kellen Winslow and Larry Csonka. A total of 69 Shrine Game alumni have gone on to become NFL Hall of Famers.