Football Universities

HIGH ACHIEVERS: U Sports celebrates next wave of university football prospects

By Martin Cleary

The Ontario University Athletics board of directors has approved a plan developed by the OUA and its Recovery and Sports Committees to have league-based sport in 2021-22.

The latest step in the return of varsity sports, after the full 2020-21 sports season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, still makes safety paramount and will be monitored over the coming months.

While that good news is too late for the student-athletes of 2020-21, who continued training for a potential 2021-22 season, U Sports didn’t forget the football players who didn’t play in the annual East-West Bowl last month.

For the second straight year, the East-West Bowl was cancelled because of the pandemic. But U Sports celebrated the next generation of top Canadian football prospects by putting 110 players on a bowl recognition list.

A dozen players with National Capital connections were named representing Carleton University (5), University of Ottawa (3), Université Laval (1), Université de Montréal (1), Concordia University (1) and Mount Allison University (1).

The Carleton Ravens had a mix of offensive and defensive players named to the East roster, including offensive lineman Charles Lavallée of Moncton, who also was selected to the East squad for the cancelled game in 2020.

Ravens running back Joshua Ferguson. Photo:

Ravens running back Joshua Ferguson of St. Catharines, ON., ranked 24th among U Sports’ rushers in 2019, gaining 448 yards on 76 carries for three touchdowns and another 178 yards on receptions.

Linebacker Louis Cavanagh of Laval, Que., made 29 solo tackles, seven assisted tackles and 2.5 sacks during his eight games with the Ravens in 2019.

Carleton also is represented on the East list by defensive lineman Sandor Mod of Welland, ON., and wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling of St. Catharines, ON.

Chris Ciguineau joined the Ottawa Gee-Gees as a receiver in 2017, but switched in 2019 to defensive cornerback, where he played five regular-season and one playoff games, recording three solo tackles.

In his third season with the Gee-Gees, but first as a starting defensive end, Michael Pezzuto of Montreal made a definite impression in 2019 with 18.5 total tackles, three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.

After transferring from Queen’s University, offensive lineman James DuManoir of Cobourg, ON., has shown versatility and durability in two years at guard or tackle. He started all nine 2019 games at left tackle.

Concordia Stingers defensive halfback Khadeem Pierre of Ottawa was the RSEQ defensive rookie of the year, a conference all-star and a U Sports all-Canadian in 2017. He was a repeat all-star in 2019 with 28.5 tackles and three interceptions.

Gatineau’s Maxym Lavallée was a back-to-back RSEQ defensive player of the week in 2019 as a defensive back for Laval Rouge et Or. In 2018, he was the conference defensive rookie of the year.

Defensive lineman Vincenzo Frangione of Ottawa played eight games for Mount Allison Mounties, scoring 10 tackles, one interception and 0.5 sacks. He is the host of Mountie Pride Presents, interviewing Mount A. student-athletes.

Montréal Carabins quarterback Dimitri Morand of Aylmer, Que., ranked 20th among U Sports’ passers in 2019. In eight games, he completed 119 of 183 pass attempts (65 per cent) for 1,327 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at

Martin can be reached by e-mail at and on Twitter @martincleary.

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