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2012 Training Camp
All photos are by Jeff Chan. Jeff is past Chairman of the Vanier Cup - Canada's University Football Championship and the Premier University Event in Canada, and was a member of the Canadian College Bowl Board and Vanier Cup Organizing Committee from 1978-2000.
All photos are Copyright (c) Jeff Chan 2000-2012, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications including by Queen's University, the CIS and its member conferences, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights, including for all corporate use, are reserved.
SEASON PREVIEW - By John Edwards Queen's Sports Information
2011 regular season record: 6-2
2011 regular season standing: 3rd, OUA
2011 playoff record: 1-1
2011 playoff finish: Lost, 40-13, to McMaster in OUA semifinal
An air of expectancy has wafted in on the shores of Lake Ontario, as the Queen's Gaels enter the 2012 campaign with a veteran-laden lineup. The Gaels return 20 starters from last year's squad that finished 6-2 and returned to the OUA semifinals for the first time since the 2009 Vanier Cup run. Queen's has ten starters back in the fold on both offence and defence, allowing the Gaels to hit the ground running from Day 1 of training camp. Supplementing the veteran presence is a recruiting class that was ranked as one of the top two in the OUA by canadafootballchat.com, and includes three Team Canada gold medallists.
2011 saw the Gaels get off to a slow start, as they were kept out of the end zone in pair of season-opening losses to McMaster and Ottawa. However, the Gaels attack got untracked in a big way in Week 3 against Laurier, rolling up 514 yards of offence in a 58-35 win over the Golden Hawks, led by four TD passes by Billy McPhee and 153 yards from Ryan Granberg. From there, the Gaels went through the rest of the regular season without a blemish, as they finished the year on a six-game winning streak, capped by a 37-0 shutout of then-No. 1 Western at Richardson Stadium on October 22 – the first shutout suffered by the Mustangs since the Nixon Administration. The run continued into the playoffs with a comeback win over the Laurier Golden Hawks, but ground to a halt the next week in Hamilton, as the Gaels fell 40-13 to the eventual Vanier Cup champions McMaster.
“The disappointment of last year has to carry over and it has to drive our returning veterans a little bit further, a little bit harder – to come back in better shape,” said Head Coach Pat Sheahan. “Our veterans have come back physically better, mentally better and wanting to win just a little bit more. I think we have created a competitive environment here. We grew some in the quarter-final, but the way the season ended was a disappointment. We need to get ourselves ready and go out and compete at a much higher level than what we did last year.”
The Gaels' coaching staff has seen some change in the offseason. Jason Casey, a former OQIFC Defensive Player of the Year and most recently the coach of the Okanagan Sun, has joined a veteran defensive coaching staff as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. In the latter role, he replaces Ryan Bechmanis, who left the program after more than ten years combined as a player and coach. Offensively, the Gaels have added another member of the 2009 Vanier Cup squad, as Scott Valberg will take over the quarterbacks this year.
Offensively, the Gaels will boast a balanced attack. Ryan Granberg, the nation's leading rusher in 2011 with 1,068 yards on the ground, returns for his fourth season, while quarterback Billy McPhee is set to embark on his second full season as a starter. McPhee will have a variety of targets to throw to, including Giovanni Aprile – the 2012 Winnipeg Blue Bombers draft pick – and Justin Chapdelaine, who moved out to receiver last season and caught 30 balls for 524 yards. The Gaels' offensive line also returns intact, led by OUA All-Stars Mike Sullivan (C), Josh Prinsen (LT) and Derek Morris (RG).
Defensively, Queen's will be hard-pressed to top last year's performance, when they went the entire season without conceding a rushing touchdown. The Gaels will go into the season riding a 137:39 regular-season shutout streak, dating back to the third quarter of their Week 6 win over Windsor. The Tricolour will be led by a pair of returning All-Canadians: linebacker Sam Sabourin and defensive back Andrew Lue. The losses of veterans Frank Pankewich and Osie Ukwouma will be felt, but OUA All-Stars John Miniaci and Derek Wiggan will be called upon carry the load up front.
The Gaels open 2012 with an exhibition game at home to McGill on Sunday, August 26, their first preseason contest since 2009. “Even though there are a few variables that are unequal, it's a game, it's an opportunity to get the staff working together under fire, and to evaluate some personnel,” said Sheahan.
Regular season play starts on September 3, with York visiting Richardson Stadium. The Gaels hit the road for the first time on September 8, as they visit Laurier in the first of two straight appearances on The Score. The second comes the following week, as the Gaels host their old rivals from Western. Week 4 will see the Gaels return to Hamilton to play the McMaster Marauders, looking for their first win since 2009 over the defending Yates and Vanier Cup champions, and Queen's closes out September with a visit from the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the only other team to defeat the Gaels in 2011. October sees the Gaels make trips to Windsor and Guelph, followed by a season-ending visit from Old Four rivals Toronto. The OUA playoffs start on October 27, with the Yates Cup set for Saturday, November 10 and the Vanier Cup on November 23.
Quote from head coach:
“I think it's going to be another competitive year. We have a good returning nucleus and we had a good recruiting class and we've got some great kids in the program right now. Our expectations are cautiously optimistic, but the guys have to deliver.”
Head Coach Pat Sheahan:
- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2012): 13th season
- Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2012): 24th season
- Career regular season record with team: 59-37
- Career regular season record in CIS: 107-70-1
- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 69-45
- Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): 123-86-1
STARTERS RETURNING/LOST: 10/2
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:
Billy McPhee, QB, 3rd year, Burlington, Ont. – Threw for 1660 yards in first season as a starter last season
Ryan Granberg, RB, 4th year, Sherwood Park, Alta. – Ran for 1068 yards last year, the second-highest total by a Gael (Mike Giffin – 1157), and was named a Second Team All-Canadian
Justin Chapdelaine, Rec, 4th year, Abbotsford, B.C. – Caught 30 passes for 524 yards in 2011
Mike Sullivan, C, 4th year, Kingston, Ont. – OUA First Team All-Star was key part of Gaels' offensive line that averaged 190.6 rushing yards and allowed only 13 sacks in 2011
Giovanni Aprile, WR, 3rd year, Toronto, Ont. – Led Gaels with 594 rushing yards on 31 catches and four touchdowns. Was drafted by Winnipeg Blue Bombers, but opted to return to school.
KEY RECRUITS OR TRANSFERS:
Doug Corby, Rec, Burlington, Ont. – Helped lead Team Canada to gold medal at World Junior Football Championship
Erick Lessard, OL, Sudbury, Ont. – 6'7”, 315-pound lineman won world junior championship with Team Canada this summer
Emilio Frometa, OL, Sudbury, Ont. – Rated No. 8 player in Canada by Ridley Scouting, was a member of victorious Team Canada squad this summer
Tim Godber, Rec, Montreal, Que. – Made five touchdown catches in ten games for 7-3 Champlain Cougars in Cegep AAA league.
Matt Ritchie – Started eight games at fullback in 2011
Tom Howes – Slotback made 14 catches for 179 yards in 2011
The Gaels' veteran presence starts at the pivot spot, as Billy McPhee returns for his third year, his second as the Gaels' starter. The Burlington, Ont., native's first year at the controls saw him improve as the season went along, and he finished with 108 completions on 213 attempts for 1660 yards and nine touchdown passes and was named to the 2012 East-West Bowl.
Behind McPhee is Ryan Mitchell, the sophomore from Toronto. As a rookie, he was thrust into the starting lineup for the Gaels' quarter-final game against Laurier. He threw for 272 yards, leading Queen's to a come-from-behind 14-10 win.
Three recruits will also be challenging to crack the lineup this year, led by Austin Geddes, who comes to Queen's from Catholic Central High School in London, where the strong-armed pivot was a two-time city all-star and won a pair of conference championships. Max Townsend, a six-foot-six, 230-pound Torontonian, who was a league All-Star with St. Michael's College and Duncan Lurie, out of Ashbury College are also in the mix.
The Gaels return Ryan Granberg, fresh off his 2011 CIS rushing title. The fourth year Sherwood Park, Alta., native ran for 1,068 yards in 2011, the second-highest single-season total ever by a Gael and was named a Second Team All-Canadian. Behind Granberg are Arnprior native Jesse Andrews, who was injured for most of 2011, second-year Sault Ste. Marie native Aaron Dowd, who had 11 carries for 53 yards last year, along with redshirt freshman Trevor Plumley from Sault Ste. Marie and rookie Stephen Trivieri from Toronto.
At fullback, the graduation of 2011 starter Matt Ritchie has left the position open. In the mix to fill Ritchie's position are Ganaoque native Aaron Dowd, who had 11 carries for 67 yards last year, along with Justin Gleben, the Gaels' 2011 Rookie of the Year and John Piazza. A trio of rookies, Brock Barber, Eric Dodwell and Mark Mahon will also seek to climb the depth chart.
Queen's returns three of their four starting receivers from 2011, with only slotback Tom Howes departing. Wide receiver Giovanni Aprile led the Gaels last year with 594 receiving yards and four touchdowns and was drafted in the third round by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. At the other wideout spot, Chris Patrician of Toronto broke out last year, with 14 catches for 194 yards. At slotback, Abbotsford, B.C., native had an excellent first season at receiver, after having moved out from the quarterback spot. He caught 30 passes for 524 yards, and was named to Team East for the 2012 East-West Bowl.
Also likely to see playing time are veterans Alex Carroll of Victoria, B.C., who had 15 catches for 230 yards and a touchdown; Boris Isakov of Toronto, who made five catches last year; second-year Montreal native Scott Macdonell, who had five catches for 56 yards; and local product Aaron Gazendam, who had a 45-yard touchdown catch last season. Prized recruits Doug Corby of Burlington, Ont., who won a gold medal with Team Canada this summer, and Tim Godber, the former Champlain Cougar who scored in the exhibition game against McGill, will also look to crack the Saturday roster.
Redshirt freshmaen Curtis Carmichael will also be expected to move up the depth chart this year, but will be challenged by Gaels' recruits, including Vincent Lafetière, a Montrealer who played last year at a prep school in New Hampshire, Markham's Kenny Fuentes, and Upper Canada College graduate Peter Hannon.
After being pieced together in 2011, all five of the Gaels' starting offensive line are set to return in 2012. The group, who allowed the Gaels to average 190.6 rushing yards per game last year, includes three OUA All-Stars, led by centre Mike Sullivan, who won first team honours. Left tackle Josh Prinsen and right guard Derek Morris, both of Napanee, were named to the second team last year. Joining them on the front five are second-year left guard Blake Sirio, and right tackle Matt Kendrick, who is going into his fourth year.
Looking to challenge the starters for playing time will be second-year men Matt Lapointe and Nicholas Romanchuk and redshirts Francis Shin, Ryan Dougherty, Marco Ciallela and Ryan Melvin. The Gaels also welcome a pair of gold medallists to the offensive line, as Sudbury natives Emilio Frometa and Erick Lessard join the Gaels, fresh off their victorious run with Team Canada. Also looking to crack the lineup will be rookies Peter Boivin (Toronto/St. Michael's), Rob Bogle (Kingston/La Salle), Daniel Hayes (Waterloo, Ont./Sir John A MacDonald), Stewart Anoya (Toronto/Loomis-Chafee Prep/Chaminade) and John Meenagh (Calgary/St. Mary's).
STARTERS RETURNING / LOST: 10/2
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:
Sam Sabourin, LB, 3rd year, Stittsville, Ont. – Made 27 tackles in 2011, including five for loss and was named a CIS Second Team All-Canadian
Andrew Lue, DB, 3rd year, Markham, Ont. - Led Gaels with seven passes knocked down in 2011, and was a CIS Second Team All-Canadian
John Miniaci, DL, 4th year, Toronto, Ont. – Veteran defensive lineman made 3.5 sacks and forced a fumble in 2011 and was named an OUA First Team All-Star
Derek Wiggan, DL, 3rd year, Kingston, Ont. – Made 21.5 tackles, including five tackles for loss, and was an OUA Second Team All-Star
T.J. Chase-Dunawa, DB, 4th year, Toronto, Ont. – Led Gaels with four interceptions, and added six knockdowns in 2011. OUA Second Team All-Star.
KEY RECRUITS OR TRANSFERS:
Jordan Comtois, DB, Montreal, Que. – Made 39 tackles for the Champlain Cougars (Cegep AAA) in 2011, and was named to the league's Academic Merit list
John Meenagh, DL, Calgary, Alta. – 6'2, 280-pound defensive lineman played both sides of the line in high school, and is also an accomplished wrestler
Natu Myers, DL, Ottawa, Ont. – Former team captain and city all-star from the Glebe Gryphons in Ottawa, and also played for Team Ontario East in 2011.
Osie Ukwuoma, DL – The Gaels' Athlete of the Year for 2011-12, he made 27 tackles and was a First Team OUA All-Star
Frank Pankewich, DL – Made 24 tackles, including 1.5 sacks last season, and was named a First Team OUA All-Star
The Gaels will have two pairs of big shoes to fill on the defensive line, as Osie Ukwuoma (2011 OUA Lineman of the Year) and Frank Pankewich (2011 First Team OUA All-Star) have graduated. However, Queen's does return the other two All-Stars from their starting front four in John Miniaci, who had 14.5 tackles and 4.5 sacks last year, and Derek Wiggan, who made 21 tackles and five tackles for loss. Miniaci earned First Team honours last year, and Wiggan was named to the Second Team.
With Wiggan set to move inside this year, competition has opened for the two starting defensive end positions. Sophomore Luke Ball, third-year Calgarian Will Moodie, second-year Gananoque native Cory Dyer and fellow sophomore Andrew Sauer will be expected to step up and compete for the starting spots. Freshmen Vaughn Keeble (King City, Ont./King City) and Natu Myers (Ottawa, Ont./Glebe Collegiate) will also be in the mix. Myers has previously spent time with Team Eastern Ontario.
Inside, redshirt freshman Corey Flude, a Holy Cross graduate, will look to crack the dress roster, and will be challenged by four newcomers, including Joel Corbin (Renfrew, Ont./Renfrew Collegiate) – who comes to camp directly after the OVFL final game, Phoenix Grouse (Dartmouth, N.S./Prince Andrew) and Tanner Gennaro (Richmond Hill, Ont./Villanova).
All three starting linebackers are set to return for Queen's, led by Sam Sabourin, the Second Team All-Canadian. He was second on the Gaels last year with 27 tackles, made five tackles for loss and broke up three passes. Stephen Laporte was fifth on the Gaels with 23.5 tackles and two passes knocked down, while Sean Plumley made 14 tackles and broke up a pass last season.
A trio of veteran reserves return, as well, for the Gaels, as Ryan Farrell (10.5 tackles in 2011), Anthony Marino (13 tackles) and Connor Moen (1 tackle) and Matt Stairs, who redshirted last season. A strong crop of recruits is also set to fight for playing time, including Jordan Comtois, who played at Champlain College of the Quebec Cégep AAA loop and was named to the league's Academic Merit list, Luke McQuilkin (Burlington/Corpus Christi), Chris Houston (Toronto/St. Andrew's), Jesse Topley (Mississauga, Ont./Lorne Park), Chris Houston (Toronto/St. Andrew's), Dan Beliveau (Montreal/St. Pauls School [NH]) and Kingstonian Mike Leroux (St. Joseph's).
The back line of the Gaels defence also returns intact, led by Second Team All-Canadian Andrew Lue. The third-year Environmental Science major made 22.5 tackles and had a pair of interceptions and knocked down seven passes in 2011. Fellow cornerback Matt Webster made a team-high 27.5 tackles in 2011, and also had three knockdowns. Inside, T.J. Chase-Dunawa led the Gaels with four interceptions in 2011, as he was named an OUA Second Team All-Star, while fifth-year halfback Ben D'Andrea made 21.5 tackles and had one interception. Safety Joshua Sultana made a pair of interceptions last year, and he is set to return for his fifth and final season.
Challenging the starters for playing time will be a pair of Montrealers, as Christoph Smith, the former Vanier College Cheetah, and Evan Sequeira, who went from Pierrefonds to a U.S. prep school, will look to make their presence known. Sequeira had seven tackles in five games last season. Sophomores Yann Dika-Balotoken and Justin Baronaitis will also look to expand their roles in 2012. Last year, Dika-Balotoken got full value for his one interception, as he returned it 46 yards for his first career touchdown. Baronaitis made four tackles in six games in 2011. Also in the mix is a pair of redshirt freshmen with Alberta ties: Colton Ballou of Edmonton, and Daniel Broodo, who went to Calgary's Rundle College. Rookies Jack Cornett (Guelph, Ont./John F. Ross), Josh Jordan (Toronto/St. Michaels), Bamidele Esan (Calgary, Alta./John G. Diefenbaker) and Mitchell Spataro (Barrie, Ont./Innisdale S..S.) will also look to make their mark in the Gaels' lineup.
STARTERS RETURNING/LOST: 0/1
KEY RECRUITS OR TRANSFERS:
Dillon Wamsley, K, London, Ont. – Top-rated kicker in Ontario last season played for Team World at the 2012 International Bowl in Austin, Texas
Dan Village, K - Finished his five-year career as the Gaels' leading scorer.
After the graduation of Dan Village, the Gaels' all-time leading scorer, there is an open competition at the kicking spot for the first time in five years. A mix of veterans and rookies will compete for the post, with the contestants including veteran receiver Aaron Gazendam, redshirt Garnet Peters of Sydenham. Rookies include Dillon Wamsley from London, who played at South Collegiate and was named to Team World for the International Bowl in 2012, and Travis Perrin of Sudbury, who made 72% of his field goals and scored 72 points for the Sudbury Gladiators of the OVFL in 2012.
Three veterans are in the mix to handle long-snapping duties, with defensive lineman Will Moodie challenging sophomore Nicholas Nucci and Carson Park, who is going into his fourth year with the squad.
The Gaels return their leaders at the return position, led by Alex Carroll, who had 41 punt returns for 463 yard and a touchdown last year, and Giovanni Aprile, who ran back ten kickoffs for 365 yards and took two to “the house”. Justin Chapdelaine (12 combined returns for 100 yards), and Joshua Sultana (5 PR for 102 yds) will also be in the mix, as will rookie receiver Doug Corby.
All photos on this site are Copyright © Jeff Chan, except as noted, and may be used for personal non-commercial applications, so long as photo credits are shown or the photos are otherwise attributed to Jeff Chan. All other rights, including for all corporate and media use, are strictly reserved, and any use of these photographs without the author’s express written consent is prohibited.