Three CIS standouts invited to prestigious East-West Shrine Game

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cis football

OTTAWA (CIS) – Manitoba nose tackle David Onyemata, Calgary centre Sean McEwen and Laval guard Charles Vaillancourt have been selected to represent Canadian Interuniversity Sport football in the 91st edition of the prestigious East-West Shrine Game on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. EST, live on NFL Network. The game will also be live online as a streaming radio broadcast produced by the EWSG Radio Network, which can be accessed at www.shrinegame.com/en/GameWeek.

The longest running university all-star game in the United States, 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 to patients and families through the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Since 1985, CIS has been represented annually at the event which features over 100 all-stars, primarily from NCAA institutions. On most occasions, two CIS players have made the trip across the border, with the exception of 1985 (1), 2008 (4), 2012 (3), and now 2016 (3).

A native of Lagos, Nigeria, Onyemata had never played football before moving to Canada five years ago. After four exceptional campaigns with the Bisons, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound arts student is the top-ranked CIS prospect – second overall – on the latest CFL Scouting Bureau list in advance of the league’s 2016 draft. 

The 23-year-old had a tremendous fourth season with the U of M this fall, earning his second straight Canada West all-star nod, his first selection as an all-Canadian and the J.P. Metras Trophy as the top down lineman in CIS football. A starter in all eight league games, he finished second in his conference and ninth in the country in sacks (5), was also second in Canada West in tackles for a loss (7.5) and ranked 12th in overall tackles (38.5), all of this despite being double-teamed on most plays. He also contributed one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Onyemata is the fourth Manitoba player invited to the East-West Shrine Game and the first since defensive lineman Evan Gill in 2014. 

“We are very proud of David. This tremendous honour becomes a great opportunity for him to showcase his skills and is yet another accomplishment in what has become a true Cinderella story in CIS,” said Bisons head coach Brian Dobie. “David’s journey from never seeing or playing football just five years ago to being able to win a major CIS national award and now playing in the East-West Shrine Game is truly remarkable and speaks to his character, drive and talent.”

McEwen, who hails from Calgary, was the second CIS player selected in the 2015 CFL draft last May, when the Toronto Argonauts picked him third overall. Instead of turning pro right away, the team captain elected to return to the Dinos this fall to complete his science degree and the move paid off, both in the classroom and on the field.

In his fifth and final university season, the 6-foot-3, 297-pound veteran was named a Canada West all-star for the fourth straight year and an all-Canadian for the third consecutive campaign, including back-to-back first-team nods. He helped the Dinos shatter the conference record for points scored for the second year in a row with 471 in eight league games, for a mindboggling average of 58.9 per contest. Thanks in large part to his steady play under centre, Calgary led the Canada West conference in every major offensive category and quarterback Andrew Buckley captured his second straight Hec Crighton Trophy after setting a new CIS single-season standard with 3,162 passing yards.

McEwen became the 12th Dino standout selected to suit up in the Shrine Game – a CIS best – and the first since former linemate Kirby Fabien in 2013.

“Sean is an exceptional leader and has demonstrated the ability to dominate on the offensive line,” said Dinos sideline boss Wayne Harris, the reigning CIS coach of the year. “He has the respect of his teammates and the opposition alike, and this recognition is a fitting way for him to end his university football career, following in the great tradition of Dinos offensive linemen attending the Shrine Game. He is a deserving candidate and will be a strong representative for CIS football and the University of Calgary.”

Vaillancourt, a native of Coaticook, Que., moved up four positions to No. 6 on the latest CFL Scouting Bureau list and is currently considered the second-best CIS prospect behind Onyemata. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound business administration student will move to the pro ranks as one of the most decorated offensive lineman in CIS football history.

In four seasons with Laval, he helped the team capture a pair of Vanier Cup titles, was named an all-Canadian every year – including first-team selections each of the past three campaigns – and this fall was the RSEQ conference nominee for the J.P. Metras Trophy as the nation’s best down lineman. The 23-year-old team captain, who represented Team World at the 2012 International Bowl in Texas, was as dominant as ever in 2015, helping the Rouge et Or offence top the Quebec league in points (37.3 per game), total yards (506.9) and rushing (211.0). 

With Vaillancourt’s selection, Laval now ranks third among CIS schools with five players invited to the Shrine Game over the years. Defensive lineman Arnaud Gascon-Nadon was the last Rouge et Or to earn the honour in 2012.

“Charles is fully deserving of this honour,” said Rouge et Or head coach Glen Constantin. “He was one of the most recruited offensive linemen across the country out of CEGEP, after he was named lineman of the year in 2011. He earned the starting job at guard right away on a very good line comprised of many veterans, including three who later became first-round selections in the CFL draft. Charles has greatly contributed to our production on offence since he joined our program and he had another dominant season in 2015, this time with added responsibilities as a team captain.” 

NOTES: The East won the 2015 Shrine Game 19-3 but the West still leads the all-time series 47-38-5… The impressive list of past CIS standouts invited to the Shrine Game includes current NFL linemen Akiem Hicks of the New Orleans Saints and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif of the Kansas City Chiefs, who starred for the Regina Rams and McGill Redmen, respectively; former NFLers Mike Schad (Queen’s), Randy Chevrier (McGill), Dan Federkeil (Calgary), Samuel Giguère (Sherbrooke) and Israel Idonije (Manitoba); as well as Hec Crighton Trophy winners Don Blair (Calgary), Kojo Aidoo (McMaster), Jesse Lumsden (McMaster) and Andy Fantuz (Western)…Highlighting the list of NFL greats who have participated in the event are Tom Brady, Dick Butkus, Larry Csonka, John Elway, Brett Favre, Walter Payton, Gale Sayers, Roger Staubach and Kellen Winslow. Coaches include Paul “Bear” Bryant, Jerry Glanville, June Jones, Don Shula, Steve Spurrier and Dick Vermeil… Seventy-one Shrine Game alumni have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For all the information on the 2016 East-West Shrine Game: www.shrinegame.com

WESTERN CIS PLAYERS IN THE EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME

Year     Player                                          Pos.     Ht.       Wt.      University           Head Coach

2016     Sean McEwen                               OL       6-3       297      Calgary                Wayne Harris

2016     David Onyemata                          DL       6-4       295      Manitoba              Brian Dobie

2015     Addison Richards                         WR      6-5       205      Regina                  Frank McCrystal

2014     Evan Gill                                      DL       6-3       280      Manitoba              Brian Dobie

2013     Kirby Fabien                                OL       6-6       295      Calgary                Blake Nill

2012     Ben Heenan                                  OL       6-4       310      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss

2012     Akiem Hicks                                DL       6-5       300      Regina                  Frank McCrystal

2011     Anthony Parker                            SB        6-2       215      Calgary                Blake Nill

2010     Jordan Sisco                                 SB        6-1       212      Regina                  Frank McCrystal

2009     Simeon Rottier                              OL       6-6       286      Alberta                 Jerry Friesen

2008     Dylan Barker                                S          6-4       200      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss

2008     Brendon LaBatte                          OL       6-4       320      Regina                  Frank McCrystal

2007     Jordan Rempel                             OL       6-6       310      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss   

2006     Daniel Federkeil                           DL       6-7       285      Calgary                Tony Fasano

2005     Nick Johansson                            DL       6-2       275      UBC                     Lou DesLauriers

2004     Ibrahim Khan                               OL       6-4       305      Simon Fraser        Chris Beaton

2003     Israel Idonije                                DL       6-7       285      Manitoba              Brian Dobie

2002     Jason Clermont                             IR        6-1       236      Regina                  Frank McCrystal

2001     Carlo Panaro                                 OL       6-2       281      Alberta                 Tom Wilkinson

2000     Kevin Lefsrud                              OL       6-4       285      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss

1999     Scott Flory                                    OL       6-4       290      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss

1998     Bob Beveridge                              OL       6-6       308      UBC                     Casey Smith

1997     Ben Fairbrother                            OL       6-4       305      Calgary                Tony Fasano

1996     Don Blair                                      WR      6-4       280      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1995     Rohn Meyer                                 OL       6-4       280      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1994     Travis Serke                                 OL       6-3       290      Saskatchewan      Brian Towriss

1993     Chris Konrad                                DL       6-3       235      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1992     Jason Rauhaus                              DL       6-1       240      Manitoba              Scott Spurgeon

1991     Mike Pavelec                                OL       6-6       280      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1990     Mark Singer                                  LB       6-0       221      Alberta                 Jim Donlevy

1989     Brent Korte                                   DL       6-1       225      Alberta                 Jim Donlevy

1988     Craig Watson                                OL       6-2       250      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1987     Leo Groenewegen                        OL       6-4       260      UBC                     Frank Smith

1986     Kent Warnock                              DL       6-7       265      Calgary                Peter Connellan

1985     Tom Spoletini                               OL       6-2       270      Calgary               Peter Connellan

EASTERN CIS PLAYERS IN THE EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME

Year     Player                                          Pos.     Ht.       Wt.      University           Head Coach

2016     Charles Vaillancourt                     OL       6-4       315      Laval                    Glen Constantin

2015     Daryl Waud                                  DL       6-5       270      Western                Greg Marshall

2014     Laurent Duvernay-Tardif             OL       6-5       315      McGill                  Clint Uttley

2013     Matt Sewell                                   OL       6-8       335      McMaster             Stefan Ptaszek

2012     Arnaud Gascon-Nadon                 DL       6-3       250      Laval                    Glen Constantin

2011     Matthew O’Donnell                      OL       6-10     340      Queen’s               Pat Sheahan

2010     Matt Morencie                              OL       6-3       290      Windsor               Mike Morencie

2009     Étienne Légaré                              DL       6-4       265      Laval                    Glen Constantin

2008     Éric Maranda                                LB       6-2       228      Laval                    Glen Constantin

2008     Samuel Giguère                            WR      6-0       215      Sherbrooke          André Bolduc

2007     Chris Best                                     OL       6-4       320      Waterloo              Marshall Bingeman       

2006     Andy Fantuz                                 WR      6-4       220      Western                Larry Haylor

2005     Jesse Lumsden                             RB       6-2       226      McMaster             Marcello Campanaro

2004     Carl Gourgues                              OL       6-1       290      Laval                    Glen Constantin

2003     Adam MacDonald                        LB       5-11     215      StFX                     Dennis McPhee

2002     Kojo Aidoo                                  RB       5-11     235      McMaster             Greg Marshall

2001     Randy Chevrier                            DL       6-4       295      McGill                  Charlie Baillie

2000     Kojo Millington                            DL       6-3       245      Wilfrid Laurier     Rick Zmich

1999     Cameron Legault                          DL       6-3       245      Carleton               Donn Smith

1998     Dave Miller-Johnston                   P/K      6-1       180      Concordia            Pat Sheahan

1997     Mark Farraway                             DL       6-5       260      StFX                     John Stevens

1996     Harry Van Hofwegen                   DL       6-4       252      Carleton               Donn Smith

1995     Matthieu Quiviger                         OL       6-5       282      McGill                  Charlie Baillie

1994     Val St. Germain                            OL       6-4       290      McGill                  Charlie Baillie

1993     Mike O’Shea                                LB       6-3       225      Guelph                 Dan McNally

1992     Chris Morris                                 OL       6-6       285      Toronto                Bob Laycoe

1991     Paul Vajda                                    OL       6-2       265      Concordia            Pat Sheahan

1990     Chris Gioskos                               OL       6-3       275      Ottawa                 Jim Daley

1989     Leroy Blugh                                 LB       6-2       230      Bishop’s               Ian Breck

1988     Pierre Vercheval                           OL       6-2       272      Western                Larry Haylor

1987     Louie Godry                                 OL       6-1       240      Guelph                 Dan McNally

1986     Mike Schad                                   OL       6-5       294      Queen’s               Doug Hargreaves

BREAKDOWN OF CIS PLAYERS IN THE EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME

 

By position              

Offensive line       33

Defensive line      18

Receivers                7

Linebackers            5

Running backs        2

Safeties                   1

Kickers                   1

TOTAL:               67

By university          

Calgary                 12

Saskatchewan         6

Laval                      5

Regina                    5

Alberta                    4

Manitoba                4

McGill                    4

UBC                       3

McMaster                3

Western                  3

Carleton                  2

Concordia               2

Guelph                    2

Queen’s                  2

StFX                       2

Bishop’s                 1

Ottawa                    1

Sherbrooke             1

Simon Fraser           1

Toronto                   1

Waterloo                 1

Wilfrid Laurier        1

Windsor                  1

TOTAL:               67

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