Dinos QB Andrew Buckley named 2014 Canada West MVP

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(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – The 2014 Canada West football award winners were announced today with Calgary Dinos’ Andrew Buckley headlining this year’s honourees. The fourth-year quarterback orchestrated the high-powered Dinos offence all season, steam-rolling to a berth in this Saturday’s 78th Hardy Cup. In addition, Buckley repeats as the recipient of the Student-Athlete Community Service Award.

The UBC Thunderbirds’ Marcus Davis (Rookie of the Year) and Donovan Dale (Outstanding Lineman), Saskatchewan Huskies’ Mark Ingram (Outstanding Defensive Player) and Brian Towriss (Coach of the Year), and the Regina Rams’ Rick Seaman (Gino Fracas Award nominee) round out the 2014 conference award winners.

Most Valuable Player & Student-Athlete Community Service Award. University of Calgary Dinos quarterback Andrew Buckley is a rare double award-winner, earning both the Frank Gnup Memorial Trophy as Most Valuable Player as well as the Canada West Student-Athlete Community Service Award. As such, he is the conference’s nomination for the Russ Jackson Award for athletics, academics, and community service.

Buckley becomes the 13th player in University of Calgary history to be named the conference MVP as the Hec Crighton nomination sits with the Dinos for a third consecutive year after previous wins by quarterback Eric Dzwilewski (2012) and Mercer Timmis (2013). It is also the second Russ Jackson nomination in as many years for Buckley, who captured the national award in 2013 as well.

Leading the Dinos to team records in points (419), touchdowns (51) and total offence (5082), Buckley was at the controls of one of the most prolific offences Canada West has ever seen. His offence averaged better than 52 points and 635 yards per game – both totals that led the nation, propelled by his surgical passing attack: Buckley led all quarterbacks in the conference with a 64.3 completion percentage, tossing for 272 yards per game along with a Canada West-best 21 touchdowns. He tossed for 2,175 yards on 142-221 passing, and he threw fewer interceptions than any other starting quarterback in the league, boasting an incredible 4.5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

And just as he did it through the air, Buckley did it with his legs as well. The fourth-year kinesiology student finished fifth in the conference in rushing with 510 yards, averaging nearly 64 per game. His yards-per-carry average was the best in Canada West, he led the league in rushing touchdowns with 10, and he ran for more yards than any other quarterback in the country this season. And he did it all despite having to fight for his position in training camp, where he beat out the 2012 Canada West MVP, Eric Dzwilewski, for the starting job.

“Very few quarterbacks have been able to pass and run as effectively as Andrew Buckley,” said Dinos head coach Blake Nill. “His statistics are very impressive, but what is more impressive is that he only played the equivalent of 6.25 games – and there is no question his stats would have been even greater had he played more. He is an outstanding leader and competitor, he reads exceptionally well, and he is extremely humble and unselfish.”

Away from the field, the graduate of Calgary’s Rundle College is an honours student in the Faculty of Kinesiology and hopes to follow his father’s footsteps into a career in orthopedic surgery following graduation. A three-time Academic All-Canadian in the classroom, he has been involved in several research studies, including one looking at a new method to reduce stiffness of the elbow joint by testing difference trial doses of a promising drug. The findings of this study were presented in 2014 at the Orthopaedic Trauma Association (Tampa, Fla.) and the Canadian Orthopaedic Association (Montreal).

Andrew has always made it a priority to give back to his school, his community, and other great causes. Andrew volunteers with Alberta Health Services, where he is paired with two elderly Alzheimer’s patients, providing companionship for three hours per week as well as relief for full-time caregivers. He embarked on a 10-day humanitarian trip to Guatemala to build efficient wood-burning stoves to replace dangerous open fires within homes.

In addition to Buckley’s 2013 win, the Dinos have captured the Russ Jackson Award twice: Elio Geremia (1987) and Lincoln Blumell (2002).

Previous University of Calgary recipients of the Frank Gnup Memorial Trophy include Greg Vavra (1982, 1983), Lew Lawrick (1984), Elio Geremia (1985), Craig Kittelson (1991, 1992), Don Blair (1995), Dean Fisher (2000), Matt Walter (2008), and Erik Glavic (2009), along with Dzwilewski and Timmis. Of those, Vavra, Blair, and Glavic were named winners of the Hec Crighton Trophy.

Rookie of the Year. Marcus Davis burst on to the scene and certainly lived up to the hype surrounding his commitment to the UBC Thunderbirds football program, winning the 2014 Canada West Rookie of the Year award. The Victoria, BC product led the Canada West in all-purpose yards (1,293 yards, 161.6 yards/game), good for fourth in the nation, led the entire CIS in kickoff return average (31.8 yards/return), and was second in the nation in punt return yards (558 yards).

An electrifying player with the ability to score on every single play, Davis finished the season with 159 rushing yards, 162 receiving yards, 558 punt return yards, and 414 kickoff return yards. He also scored six touchdowns, two rushing, two receiving, one punt return (81 yards vs Saskatchewan November 1) and one kickoff return (107 yards vs Saskatchewan October 4). At just 5’9, 176 lbs Davis proved to be one of the biggest offensive threats in the Canada West.

“Marcus Davis is the type of player who only comes along once in a decade and can truly be describes as special,” said UBC special teams coordinator Paul Orazietti. “We are confident that Marcus is an outstanding selection to represent the Canada West as the Peter Gorman Award nominee.”

Outstanding Defensive Player. 2014 Canada West All-Star safety Mark Ingram turned heads in his second and final season with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies being named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year. Helping the No. 8 ranked Huskies to a 6-2 record and a home playoff date for the first time in four seasons, the Agriculture and Bioresources student finished 2014 with 48.5 tackles (42 solo, 13 assisted), one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, four breakups and six interceptions. The Imperial, Sask. native’s totals put in him third in the conference in tackles and first in interceptions in both the conference and CIS. He was 15th in the tackles in the nation.

On defence this season as a team, the Huskies held opponents to just 28.2 points per game and had a league-best 15 interceptions.

“As a safety Mark has great anticipation skills, tremendous range and quickness to break on the ball,” said head coach Brian Towriss. “His physical skills, IQ and leadership skills combine to put Mark at the top of the list of great safeties to play for the Huskies. He is our unquestioned leader on defence, plays with great heart, and enjoys the game as much as any player I have seen in a long time.”

Ingram, whose CIS eligibility will exhaust in 2014, joined the Huskies in 2013 after playing with the Regina Thunder in the Prairie Junior Football League. He was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian in 2013 after recording 30 tackles in his first year in the CIS.

Outstanding Lineman. For the second straight year UBC Thunderbirds defensive tackle Donovan Dale is the Outstanding Lineman awardee and the J.P. Metras Award nominee for the Canada West. The Saskatoon, SK product was a constant thorn in the sides of opposing offences, forcing most teams to double team him up front. Standing 6’1, 290 lbs, the fourth-year Kinesiology student finished second in the Canada West in tackles for a loss with six for 22 yards and third in the Canada West in sacks with three. He also finished the season with 31 tackles. Last season he was a CIS First Team All-Canadian and a Canada West First Team All-Star.

“For Donovan to represent the Canada West as the Metras nominee for the second year in a row indicates the respect that the other teams have for his skill and overall play,” said UBC defensive coordinator Jerry Friesen. “Donovan is a player that provides leadership, energy and works hard on every single play.”

Coach of the Year. Brian Towriss, in his 31st year as head coach, led the University of Saskatchewan Huskies to a second place 6-2 record and a home playoff date in 2014. It is the 14th straight year the Huskies have earned a playoff spot and first time since 2010 at home.

This is the ninth time in his career Towriss has been named Canada West Coach of the Year. He was named CIS Coach of the Year in 1994.

As a team, the Huskies led the conference in passing touchdowns (22) and interceptions (15), as well as sat second in scoring when in the red zone converting 32-of-33 times including 25 touchdowns in those opportunities. Saskatchewan scored 249 points in eight games.

“Brian Towriss is a well-respected leader in the coaching fraternity across the CIS,” said Huskie athletic director Basil Hughton. “He is above reproach in all of his dealings with young athletes and colleagues. We are truly pleased he has received this well-deserved honour once again in his storied career.”

The CIS all-time wins leader at 187 (conference and playoffs) has been a coach with the team for 35 seasons, starting as an assistant coach under Val Schneider in 1980 before taking over the team as head coach in 1984. He spent four seasons as a defensive lineman for the Huskies from 1974-77 and was named a conference all-star in 1974.
He has led Saskatchewan to three Vanier Cup titles, 11 Hardy Cup titles and nine Vanier Cup appearances.

Gino Fracas Award nominee. Dr. Rick Seaman of the Regina Rams is the Canada West Gino Fracas Award nominee as the conference’s outstanding volunteer coach. A dedicated volunteer coach for 50 years, he has been a Rams assistant coach for 31 years.

“Rick has been a totally committed coach from the first day he stepped on the field. He combines teaching methodology, with classroom instruction and on field practicum. He is exceptionally prepared with a clear vision of what he intends to communicate,” said Rams head coach Frank McCrystal. “Off the field Rick has been tireless in his support of our student athletes. He has tutored our players, in mathematics/calculus for all of the 31 years he has coached with us. As a mentor he has provided leadership and direction for our players entering the Faculty of Education.”

“Rick has applied his expertise in education to the instruction of football, with remarkable results. He has coached numerous CFL players including, Jason Clermont, Chris Getzlaf, Chris Bauman, and the NFL’s Jon Ryan to name a few,” McCrystal added.

2014 Canada West Football Award Winners (unanimous selection in bold)

Most Valuable Player (Hec Crighton Award nominee): Andrew Buckley, Calgary
Rookie of the Year (Peter Gorman Award nominee): Marcus Davis, UBC
Outstanding Defensive Player (President’s Award nominee): Mark Ingram, Saskatchewan
Outstanding Lineman (John Metras Award nominee): Donovan Dale, UBC
Student-Athlete Community Service Award (Russ Jackson Award nominee): Andrew Buckley, Calgary
Coach of the Year: Brian Towriss, Saskatchewan
Gino Fracas Award nominee: Rick Seaman, Regina

Image Credit: UBC Thunderbirds, Calgary Dinos, Saskatchewan Huskies

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