2009 CIS FOOTBALL PREVIEW – Ottawa Gee-Gees
2008 regular season record: 4-4
2008 regular season standings: T4, Ontario University Athletics
2008 playoff record: 2-1
2008 playoff finish: Lost 2008 Yates Cup 31-17 @ Western Ontario
Mobile third-year quarterback Bradley Sinopoli of Peterborough, Ont., moves to the head of the huddle following the 2008 graduation of all-time leading passer Josh Sacobie, who ended a five-year run with a program-high 9,885 regular season passing yards and 79 career
“I have been waiting for this day to come,” said Sinopoli, 21, a former multi-sport high school star (lacrosse, track, football) who was a spot-duty back-up (38 completions on 70 career attempts) to Sacobie before catching seven regular season passes in emergency duty at
receiver last season while playing the position for the first time.
Making Sinopoli’s adjustment as the Gee-Gees starter easier will be a sizable group of veteran receivers, including fourth-year reigning second-team OUA all-star Cyril Adjeitey (Ottawa),
fourth-year Matt Bolduc (Montreal), along with second-year Alex Fortier-Labonté (Gatineau, Que.), and first-year WR / SB Simon LeMarquand (Gatineau, Que.), a gifted former CEGEP
all-star and MVP with the Griffons Gatineau-based team.
“I think this is going to be a forgiving offence,” said Gee-Gees head coach Denis Piché, who enters his eighth season with a healthy roster of recruits, sitting two regular season career wins shy of No. 40.
uOttawa returns eight starters on offence and nine on defence after limping through an injury plagued 2008 regular season with a 4-4 record while using a program-high 16 receivers.
An early problem may be a stacked offensive backfield, with bullish (5-11, 240 pounds) RB Davie Mason (Brampton, Ont.) set to return for a fourth season after leading the Gee-Gees with 474 yards over six 2008 regular season games.
The big back’s career highlight is a 31-carry, 327-yard, three-touchdown performance on Oct. 25, 2008 during a 42-37 road quarter-final playoff win at Guelph, to erase Greg Marshall’s OUA and CIS playoff rushing record of 317 yards, set Nov. 7, 1981 while with Western Ontario.
Mason, who has missed three of 24 regular season games over the last three years, will by pushed by first-year RBs Brendan Gillanders (Ottawa) and CEGEP grad Franck Ngandui (Montreal).
The early indication is the packed backfield, which includes fifth-year RB Craig Bearss (Kingston), and fourth-year RB Matt Todd (Ottawa), will play no favourites.
“I don’t care where they are from, what language they speak, what they look like: We will play the best players… and do what’s best for this program,” said Piche.
Defensively the Gee-Gees should be a load, led by a pair of returning second-team OUA allstars:
fifth-year linebacker Mike Cornell (Hamilton), and fourth-year tackle Sébastien Tétreault (Granby, Que.).
Fifth-year cornerback Lee Shaver (Ottawa), fourth-year cornerback / returner specialist Chayce Elliott (Burnaby, BC), and fifth-year defensive back Maxime Bédard (Granby, Que.) should help keep the Gee-Gees points-against in-check.
uOttawa also welcomes three CIS transfers – third-year WR / SB Steven Hughes (Ottawa) from York, fourth-year defensive end Garrett McNaull (Calgary) from Saskatchewan and firstyear defensive back Ty Rusznak (Vancouver) from UBC via Minot State – in the hopes of
advancing to its third Yates Cup championship game in four years and first Vanier Cup championship in nine years.
Head Coach: Denis Piche
– Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2009): 8
– Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2009): 8
– Career regular season record with team: 38-18
– Career regular season record in CIS: 38-18
– Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 44-25
– Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 44-25
Key returning players (with Piché quotes):
Fourth-year QB Bradley Sinopoli (Peterborough): “He is ready; it is his time, great arm and amazing runner.”
Fourth-year SB / WRs Cyril Adjeitey (Ottawa) and Matt Bolduc (Montreal): “Both have experience, great hands and size.”
Fifth-year RB Craig Bearss (Kingston): “Can do it all, FB or TB as well as being amazing on special teams due to his size and speed.”
Fourth-year DL Sébastien Tétreault (Granby, Que.): “He is one of the best interior pass rusher in CIS and can equally play off the edge.”
Third-year DE Youcef Lekadir (Ottawa): “Speed, speed, strength, strength…will be a nightmare to stop him in passing downs.”
Fifth-year LB Mike Cornell (Hamilton) and fourth-year LB James McNaughton (Newmarket):
“Speed and physicality are their strongest attributes, they are play makers.”
Key recruits (Piché quotes):
Fourth-year transfer SB / WR Steven Hughes (Ottawa) from York: “An all-Canadian in the making…amazing hands and body control, will have immediate impact.”
First-year RBs Brendan Gillanders (Ottawa) and Franck Ngandui (Montreal): “Should also improve on our already efficient run attack.”