Finch best in OUA, Vandervoort tops rookies


Western quarterback Will Finch, who rewrote the Ontario University Athletics record book in his sophomore season, has been named the 2013 most valuable player and is a nominee for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport Hec Crighton Trophy.

Burlington native Will Finch is 2013 most valuable player. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Burlington native Will Finch is 2013 Most Valuable Player. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

The Burlington, Ont., native established himself as one of the top quarterbacks in CIS football, helping the Western Mustangs to their first 8-0 season since 1998, and setting a conference team scoring record in the process with 458 points.

McMaster Marauder’s Daniel Vandervoort is recipient of the Norm Marshall Trophy as Rookie of the Year.

Finch had one of the greatest statistical seasons in history, setting OUA milestones for passing yards with 3,047, and completion percentage, hitting 69.7 percent of his passes. He tossed 21 touchdowns on the year and added five more on the ground. His passing yards eclipsed that of Mustang QB legend Michael Faulds and stood as a CIS record for a week before being dropped to No. 2 on the all-time list.

Finch was twice named OUA offensive player of the week (Sept. 8 and Oct. 20) for his efforts against the Marauders and York Lions. He was selected OUA male athlete of the week on both occasions.

The undefeated Mustangs displayed supreme strength on both sides of the ball and linebacker Pawel Kruba takes home the OUA standup defensive player of the year award. The Windsor, Ont., native is the heart of the Mustangs defence, helping the team finish in the top 10 in both points allowed per game (18.5) and rushing yards allowed per game (109.9).

The year marked another fantastic season for the senior. Kruba placed second on the team with 38 tackles, averaging 4.8 per game. He also tied for the team lead with three interceptions, helping the Mustangs to a CIS second-best 28 turnovers.

An OUA second team all-star in 2012, Kruba only improved in 2013 and was honoured during the season as both the OUA and CIS defensive player of the week after racking up nine tackles and two interceptions in Western’s 58-15 win over McMaster.

Kruba is the sixth Mustang to take home the President’s Award. He is also a first team all-star.

The J.P. Metras Award for OUA lineman of the year went to Ottawa defensive tackle Ettore Lattanzio. Lattanzio has had a great year, terrorizing OUA quarterbacks and helping the Gee-Gees to their 5-3 turnaround season.

Lattanzio topped the OUA and tied for the lead in the CIS with 10 sacks this season. The dynamic 6-foot, 230-pound Ottawa native counted 79 yards lost by opponents on sacks, which led the CIS.

Lattanzio was named OUA defensive player of the week following his four-sack performance in the final week of the regular season against Windsor.

Teammates describe him as having an unstoppable motor, and Lattanzio played through injuries throughout the year. The former high school wrestler at Mother Theresa High School was an OUA second team all-star in 2012, when he amassed eight sacks as a sophomore.

McMaster’s rookie receiver Vandervoort was a highly touted recruit from Bear Creek Secondary School in Barrie. He came into his first university training camp ready to win a starting spot with the Marauders and did just that.

Norm Marshall Trophy winner Daniel Vandervoort. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

Norm Marshall Trophy winner Daniel Vandervoort. (Photo: Robin Leworthy Wilson/Aerial Promotions)

In his first game he caught six balls including a touchdown pass to help the Marauders to an opening week win over Ottawa. His second game saw him named the OUA offensive player of the week, as he had a sensational day versus Queen’s with seven catches for 172 yards that included a 73-yard touchdown reception. In week four, he scorched the York Lions for five catches for 117 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Vandervoort continued to shine through the OUA conference schedule, and was among league leaders in receiving. In eight games he had 31 receptions for 594 yards for an outstanding average of over 19 yards per catch, and scored eight touchdowns, just one shy of the McMaster single season receiving record of nine, held by current Toronto Argo Mike Bradwell.

Western Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall was honoured with the Dave ‘Tuffy’ Knight Award as OUA coach of the year, presented by Centaur Products. Marshall, in his seventh season with the team, guided the Mustangs to their best season since 1998.

The award marks Marshall’s fourth nod as the OUA coach of the year, previously winning the award in 2010 with Western and in 1999 and 2000 while at the helm of the Marauders. He also captured the CIS coach of the year award back in 2000, and was named the CFL Coach of the Year in 2004 with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Coaching awards aren’t the only trophies on Marshall’s mantle as he won the 1980 Hec Crighton Trophy as the nation’s most outstanding player as a running back for the Mustangs. He then went on to the CFL, winning a Grey Cup in 1982 with the Edmonton Eskimos.

A native of Guelph, Marshall has coached all three of his sons at Western, with both Brian and Tom currently suiting up for the Mustangs while Donnie finished his university career last season.

The Russ Jackson Nominee is a name put forward by the 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 the award goes to Queen’s Aaron Gazendam.

An outstanding student completing a BSc in Kinesiology at Queen’s, Gazendam has been an academic all-Canadian the past two years and is a candidate for medical school in September of 2014.

Gazendam finished the season with nine receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns; the 6-5 receiver also serves as the Gaels’ back-up kicker/punter. His longest touchdown of the year was a spectacular 85 yard pass and run play for a major. Gazendam is best remembered for his intelligence and heroics at the 2013 Queen’s Homecoming game against Laurier where he fielded a blocked field goal in overtime and had the presence of mind to immediately punt the ball into the endzone, chase and retrieve it for the winning touchdown.

He has a significant list of community service activities which includes working with elementary school children in the Kingston area on literacy skills and healthy lifestyle training and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston. Gazendam is also a peer tutor at Queen’s and has sat on several leadership committees during his time at the university.

Gazendam has most recently distinguished himself on the Queen’s campus as a student leader in the anti-hazing movement at the university. He was the male student delegate who attended the Novak Institute for the Prevention of Hazing at the University of Kentucky in June of 2013. Gazendam and his female counterpart were part of the only Canadian delegation to attend the prestigious Novak Institute this year. He returned from the Novak Institute to lead, with his co-president of the local student-athlete leadership group, a comprehensive anti-hazing program designed to educate his fellow Queen’s students and athletes about the ill effects of hazing activities and help them change the brand of initiation behaviour that is pervasive on many university campuses across Canada and the United States.

This year’s volunteer coach of the year award winner is a member of the Western Mustangs coaching staff. An outstanding high school coach in the London area, Paul Gleason joined the Mustangs coaching staff in 1997, signing on as the special teams coordinator.

Taking the reigns as the defensive coordinator in 2000, Gleason has guided the Mustangs defence for over a decade, helping the team reach the Yates Cup final six times in that span. Alongside the team success he’s coached seven student-athletes who have gone on to play in the CFL and one in the NFL all in the past five years.

The Officials Award of Merit went to Kevin Mickelboro. He began his referee career with the Hamilton Football Officials Association (HFOA) in 1993. Mickelboro has officiated numerous Yates Cups, and was most recently the head referee of the 2011 championship.

All the major award winners for 2013 were honoured on Thursday (Nov. 7) at a press conference in Hamilton in conjunction with the Yates Cup conference.

2013 OUA FOOTBALL MAJOR AWARD WINNERS

Most Valuable Player – Will Finch (Western)
President’s Trophy (Stand-up Defensive Player) – Pawel Kruba (Western)
J.P. Metras Trophy (Lineman of the Year) – Ettore Lattanzio (Ottawa)
Norm Marshall Trophy (Rookie of the Year) – Daniel Vandervoort (McMaster)
Russ Jackson Nominee – Aaron Gazendam (Queen’s)
Dave “Tuffy” Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall (Western)
Volunteer Coach of the Year – Paul Gleason (Western)
Officials Award of Merit – Kevin Mickelboro