By Sarah Pledge Dickson
Three Ottawa high school football players have only ever played against one another. Now, Shane Johnson, Evan Scazighino and Gabe Guillaume will put their rivalries aside to play university football together with the Windsor Lancers.
“What I’m most excited for, man, it’s to play again,” says Guillaume, who hasn’t played a game since COVID struck.
The local trio will be tasked with helping the Lancers improve on the 1-7 record they posted in 2019, which was Jean-Paul Circelli’s first season as head coach.
“As soon as I started talking to (Circelli), I just knew,” says Scazighino, whose coach preaches “love, serve and care” as the program’s core values. “He was so open and welcoming, and I knew that was the spot for me.”
Scazighino is graduating from St. Peter Catholic High School and will be studying communications at the University of Windsor this fall.
“Football is what keeps me going during COVID,” notes Scazighino, who hadn’t missed a season since Grade 6. “It still motivated me to workout and do my schoolwork.
“It’s my motivation to do pretty much everything.”
Johnson has also been working to stay in shape and master his position. The wide receiver started playing football in the ninth grade at St. Peter before transferring to Lester B. Pearson in Grade 11.
Since then, the future computer science student has played with the North Gloucester Giants, where his 40-meter sprint time got him noticed by the Lancers.
“He’s just so big and powerful,” says Windsor recruiting coach Randy Beardy. “His work ethic is insane.”
Guillaume, who will study political science and hopes to become a lawyer, was drawn to the academic opportunities at Windsor as much as the football.
“That’s something that I’ve been passionate about,” signals the St. Peter senior. “My dad always told me, ‘school’s first.’”
All three athletes have played against one another, but have never found themselves on the same team at the same time. Now, they’re looking forward to seeing familiar faces on the bench and navigating the ups and downs of first year of university together.
“Rivals turning into teammates seems like something that I really wouldn’t expect,” notes Guillaume. “But I’m excited about that. I really look forward to it.”