2018 USports Mid-Season Report
By Ameeta Vohra
With the USports season inching closer to the playoffs, there have been many highs and lows in the first half of the season.
Here is a review of the highlights so far by conference, where teams stand in their conferences, statistical leaders and how Junior National Team members (present or alum) are faring deep into season.
Saint Mary’s Huskies have turned the corner from last season when a controversy surrounding a player’s eligibility came into question days before the playoffs. While they made it all the way to the Loney Bowl, the team was disappointed in losing the AUS Championship to the Acadia Axemen in a thrilling and dramatic triple overtime game.
This fall, the team has come back with a vengeance, proving that last year was no fluke. The Huskies are undefeated through six games. Quarterback Kaleb Scott has led the way for the team with 1508 passing yards, an average of 251.3 yards per game and 438 rushing yards. Defensively, Brad Herbst is ahead of the pack in tackles, registering 48 this season.
Right behind the Huskies are the St. Francis Xavier X-Men with a 4-2 mark. Jordan Socholotiuk leads the league in rushing yards (777) and rushing yards per game (129.5) while Kaion Julien-Grant has 431 receiving yards and 31 receptions.
Meanwhile, the reigning league champions Acadia Axemen sit in third place with a 2-3 record (the team gets the go ahead because of points for). Cordell Hastings leads the conference in receiving yards per game with 78.2 while defensive lineman Tommy Grant is in a tie for the lead in sacks with 3.5. 2018 National Junior team gold medallist from the IFAF World Junior Championships in Mexico City, Anderson Recker has 2.5 interceptions.
Also with a 2-3 mark at the halfway point is the Mount Allison Mounties. Junior National Team alum Nate Rostek (2015 International Bowl) has registered 33.5 tackles in five games this season for the team.
Bishop’s Gaiters are the basement dwellers in the AUS as they are winless so far in six contests. A bright spot for the team is defensive lineman Adam Plamondon is tied for the conference lead in sacks with 3.5.
Perennial powerhouse Laval Rouge et Or are perfect after six games and that includes having their rival, the Montreal Carabins number twice this season.
Rouge et Or quarterback Hugo Richard, Junior National Team alum who helped Canada win gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships in Austin, Texas leads the conference in passing average per game (125 completions in 180 attempts for 1518 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and average of 253.0 yards per game) and total offense (282 yards per game).
2014 IFAF World Junior Championship silver medallist Mathieu Betts is the sacks leader in the conference with nine as well as tackles for a loss 14.
As for the Carabins, they are firmly in second place in the standings with a 4-2 record in large part to Regis Cibasu and Louis-Philippe Simoneau, Junior National Team alums that were part of the 2012 gold medal winning team at the IFAF World Junior Championships. Cibasu is atop the standings in receptions per game (427 yards on 32 receptions for an average of 5.33 yards per catch) while Simoneau leads the PAT kicking percentage as he has been perfect in 20 attempts and punting (41.7).
The Concordia Stingers come into this season with a new head coach. Brad Collinson was part of the Junior National Team coaching staff that took the silver medal at the 2014 IFAF World Junior Championships in Kuwait. Currently, the Stingers are 2-3 on the season and Jarryd Taylor is tops in the conference in receiving yards per game (102.8 yards per game).
Both the McGill Redmen and Sherbrooke Vert et Or have only managed to get one win so far this season. There have been some silver linings for both these teams. The Redmen’s Jean-Philippe Hudon has the most tackles (25 solo, nine assisted), while the Vert et Or won their first game in two years this past weekend against the Redmen.
Picking up from where they left off at the end of last season, the reigning Vanier Cup champions Western Mustangs haven‘t skipped a beat, destroying the majority of opponents they’ve faced so far in six games. This past weekend in the team’s win over the Windsor Lancers, running back Cedric Joseph broke a team record for single game rushing yards which was previously held by current head coach Greg Marshall. With the 355 yards he managed to rack up in the first half, Joseph’s performance also netted him the third most single game yards in USports history.
The Mustangs running back also leads the conference in rushing yards per game (139.0) and touchdowns (10).
The only team that came close to having the Mustangs on the ropes was the Carleton Ravens, which is led by current Junior National Team Head Coach Steve Sumarah, who guided Canada to a gold medal win this past July at the IFAF World Junior Championships in Mexico. The Ravens faced some disappointment this fall as their attempt to win their fifth consecutive Panda Game came to a halt at the hands of the Ottawa Gee-Gees. In another thriller at TD Place, the Gee-Gees won their first Panda Game 38-27 over the Ravens.
Sitting in second place in the OUA is the Gee-Gees with a 5-1 record. Meanwhile, the Ravens are in fourth place with a 4-3 record. Of note, Kene Onyeka leads the conference in sacks with five.
In between the Gee-Gees and Ravens are the McMaster Marauders who are third with a 4-2 record. Leading the offense is pivot Andreas Dueck who helped Canada win gold in Mexico this past July. This past Friday, Dueck put in a solid performance in the team’s victory over Queen’s Gaels as he completed 22 passes in 29 attempts for 358 passing yards and 75.1 efficiency rating.
Guelph Gryphons are sitting in fifth place with a 3-3 record due in big part to linebacker Luke Korol who leads the OUA with 10.1 tackles per game.
Once again, the Waterloo Warriors are proving to be a big surprise in the conference as they started off strong. After a pair of losses, the Warriors are 3-3. It has been the Tre Ford and Tyler Ternowski show as they have demonstrated some serious chemistry this season. Ford, who was named last season’s USports Rookie of the Year, leads the OUA in passing yards per game (354 yards) and touchdowns (19). As for Ternowski, he is tops in receiving yards per game (149.7) and touchdowns (10).
Rearing the bottom end of the standings are Laurier Golden Hawks (3-3), York Lions (2-4), Windsor Lancers (1-5) and University of Toronto Varsity Blues (0-6).
With five games in, the Calgary Dinos are emerging as the cream of the crop in the Canada West conference.
Looking more invincible with each passing game, the Dinos sit atop of the CWUAA with a 5-0 record. Quarterback Adam Sinagra has led the offense to success this season and has the most passing yards per game (429) and touchdowns (17) in the CWUAA. Receiver Hunter Karl is top in the conference in receiving yards per game (117.8).
Twin brothers Jalen and Tyson Philpot, who were gold medallists with Canada at this past July’s IFAF World Junior Championships in Mexico have seen playing time in their rookie campaign and have played significant roles in the team’s success. Tyson has amassed 433 receiving yards in 17 catches and three touchdowns. As for Jalen, he has racked up 208 receiving yards on 12 catches and three majors.
On the Dinos defence, defensive lineman Joel Van Pelt is tied for the sack lead in the conference with four while Charlie Moore has the most tackles per game with eight.
Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Huskies are in second place with a 3-2 record. Colton Klassen has been an integral part of the Huskies offense and he has the most receiving touchdowns in the conference with six. Additionally, defensive lineman Tristian Koronkiewicz is tied for the CWUAA lead in sacks (4).
Manitoba Bisons also have the same 3-2 mark on the season. Jamel Lyles has amassed the most rushing yards per game in the conference (99.5).
Both the Alberta Golden Bears and UBC Thunderbirds are 2-3. The biggest story that emerged within the past week surrounds the Regina Rams. The team uncovered that they had an academically ineligible player during their bye week. As a result, the team forfeited their three victories this season and now are at the bottom of the standings with a 0-5 record.
This post is also available in: French