HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
As Geoffrey Coventry was making his journey to becoming a phys-ed teacher, football was a significant part of his life.
He started playing the gridiron game at St. Peter Catholic High School in Grade 9, refined his skills at Bishop’s University and signed a contract as a non-import receiver with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes in 2014.
Earlier this week, he reflected on his days as a high school and university player and considered himself fortunate to have been part of a special time in the game.
“Having high school coverage (by the Ottawa media), we got lucky. It was the golden era for coverage,” said Coventry, who was head coach of the St. Matthew Catholic High School varsity team for the first time this fall, after five years as offensive co-ordinator at Immaculata High School.
“At Bishop’s, we had plenty of coverage from Radio Canada. I did weekly French interviews with them.”
Sadly, newspaper and TV coverage of high school and university football in Ottawa has been sidelined for several years as the various media institutions have been affected by financial woes and staff reductions.
But that only fired up Coventry, who decided five years ago to rev up the interest in high school football in Ottawa and Ontario by taking some newly acquired graphic arts skills into social media. Coventry created social media accounts to put the focus on Ottawa high school football (Twitter: @OttawaHSFball & Instagram: @ottawahsfootball) and Ontario high school football (Twitter @onhsfball).
“I feel there’s not a lot of coverage anymore,” said Coventry, who has a newspaper article about one of his high school football experiences hanging on a classroom wall. “It needed to be brought back. They (student-athletes) work their butts off and need some recognition.”
Coventry is a one-man operation when it comes to producing the content for Twitter, but he heavily relies on the Ottawa high school coaches for their input. He writes about student-athletes announcing their university commitments, game previews, game results, players of the week and season-ending awards (see below).
Former St. Joseph High School Jaguars offensive lineman Kevin Kelly and Coventry have staged an awards banquet in the past, but not recently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until the pandemic, there also was a high school all-star game as the top players were named to Team Gee-Gees and Team Ravens, after the respective University of Ottawa and Carleton University squads.
“We’re trying to keep it very much high school oriented,” Coventry added. “We want high school football to be for high school and have the players proud to represent their high school.”
When it comes to selecting all-star teams or major award winners, Coventry is all about following the democratic process. He sends out a nomination form to all the Ottawa coaches in the 10-team National Capital Secondary School Athletic Association football league and asks them to select their best positional players. Once all the names have been collected, the coaches are asked to make their selections.
Here are the players selected to the first and second Ottawa high school all-star football teams and the major award finalists for 2021:
OTTAWA HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM
Quarterback: Mason Boomhower, St. Mark;
Running backs: Seyriam Soga, St. Matthew; Mason Wilson, St. Mark;
Offensive line: Matt Levesque, Spencer Teiderman, Xavier Stratton, all St. Mark; Noah Fahey, Holy Trinity; Martin Spatling, St. Joseph;
Receivers: Mike Cornish, Allen Acuzar, both St. Joseph; Jalen Flindall, Ashbury; Josh Weekes, St. Patrick’s; Nicholas Cerquozz, St. Mark;
Kicker/punter: Alex Tuck, St. Mark; Kieran Arkett, Sir Wilfrid Laurier;
Long snapper: Luke Connolly, Immaculata;
Kick/punt returner: Felix Valiquette, Ashbury; Isaac Kamanzi, Immaculata; Rory Moore, St. Joseph;
Defensive line: Jamison McCulloch-Cop, St. Patrick’s; Cole Murdoch, St. Mark; Daniel Olubajo, Holy Trinity; Godwin Bundu-Kapuku, Franco-Cité;
Linebackers: Mason Boomhower, Alex Tuck, both St. Mark; Israel Mutumbo, St. Patrick’s;
Defensive backs: Owen Nightingale, Ben Strutt, both St. Mark; Genovic Mutumbo, St. Patrick’s; Rory Moore, St. Joseph; Cole Szabo, Holy Trinity.
SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Quarterback: Kaden Augustin, Ashbury;
Running backs: Daniel Adeleye, Ashbury; Sam Poce, Immaculata;
Offensive line: Michael Alberty, St. Patrick’s; Jett Hudson, St. Joseph; Mathias Legault, Franco-Cité; Aiden Shields, St. Peter; Billy Terimpundu, Immaculata;
Receivers: Braedan Boisclair, Immaculata; Matthew Bourque, St. Peter; Antonio Marinelli, St. Mark; Derrick Noubissi, Franco-Cite; Taym Almatni, Sir Wilfrid Laurier;
Kicker/punter: Cole Juneau, Franco-Cité; Liam Seiffert, St. Joseph;
Long snapper: Martin Spatling, St. Joseph;
Defensive line: Gabe Gagnon, Lamar Marshall, both St. Joseph; Evan Crete, St. Peter; Kayinda Love-Karl, Immaculata;
Linebackers: Beeman Thomas, Immaculata; Denilson Cimeus, Franco-Cité; Ryan Ikkers, St. Matthew;
Defensive backs: Felix Valiquette, Ashbury; Cody Croucher, St. Mark; Christian Fadael, Immaculata; TJ Taylor, St. Joseph; Guy Jaylen, St. Matthew.
MAJOR AWARD NOMINEES
(Winners to be announced April, 2022)
Offensive MVP: Seyriam Soga, St. Matthew; Mason Boomhower, St. Mark; Mike Cornish, St. Joseph; Kaden Augustin, Ashbury;
Defensive MVP: Ryan Ikkers, St. Matthew; Alex Tuck, St. Mark; Rory Moore, St. Joseph; Cole Szabo, Holy Trinity;
Top offensive lineman: Michael Alberty, St. Patrick’s; Matt Levesque, St. Mark; Noah Fahey, Holy Trinity; Mathias Legault, Franco-Cite;
Top defensive lineman: Cole Murdoch, St. Mark; Jamison McCulloch-Cop, St. Patrick’s; Kayinda Love-Karl, Immaculata; Lamar Marshall, St. Joseph;
Community: Mya Sluban, St. Matthew; Kenan Lindo, St. Patrick’s, Will Morey-Moisan, Immaculata;
Players’ choice: Cole Szabo, Holy Trinity; Callum Bothelo, St. Peter; Jacob El-Arab, Sir Wilfrid Laurier; Denilson Cimeus, Franco-Cité.
Note to readers: High Achievers: Stay-Safe Edition will return in the new year – happy holidays to everyone!
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 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 “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.