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SEASON PREVIEW: Football

Group photo of football players posing
Photo:Greg Mason

The 2017 season was another solid one for the Gee-Gees. Kicking off the season with a road win against Guelph, the team had strong momentum through the first weeks of the season. Wins against Queen's and York had the Gee-Gees as high as No. 8 in the U SPORTS Top 10. The team picked up two more wins over Windsor and Waterloo at home, but found themselves on the losing end at McMaster and Western, as well as a Panda Game double-overtime thriller.

Last season, the team's strength was their defence, with First Team All-Canadian Jamie Harry, and Second Team All Canadian Jackson Bennett leading a lethal defensive backfield. With cornerbacks Harry and Cody Cranston attending the East-West Bowl along with receiver Kalem Beaver, the 2018 team looks to have plenty of star power.

With 17 returning starters, and plenty of depth across the board, the Gee-Gees are well prepared to take another step in the OUA. Though they will be tested early with three high-level opponents to start the season in Laurier, McMaster, and Guelph, the team can prove their place among the nation's elite early.

Quote from head coach: Jamie Barresi

"Everything is looking very positive. I'm happy with our depth, we have a great group of returning guys that will help us a lot this year. There's also been a lot of new kids who have come in and have been very impressive."

 

Head Coach: Jamie Barresi

- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2018): 6

- Number of seasons as head coach in U SPORTS (including 2018): 6

- Career regular season record with team: 24-16

- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 24-16

- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): 25-20

- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 25-20

OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 10

Key returning players:

 

RB/SB Bryce Vieira - Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Vieira is a perennial all-purpose threat. In a final year before seeking another chance in the CFL, Vieira is once again a key weapon in Jamie Barresi's offence. In four years, Vieira has racked up 3,894 all-purpose yards (125.6 per game) and will be a key target in a pass-heavy offence.

OL Tanner Bishop – Fresh from an OUA All-Rookie team season, Bishop will once again anchor the Gee-Gees offensive line. The athletic guard from Vernon, BC looks to continue developing as a top prospect in his second year with the Gee-Gees.

QB Alex Lavric – In an OUA All-Rookie team season, Lavric threw for 1,409 yards and 8 touchdowns in seven games played. The Mississauga, Ont. native continues to learn the Gee-Gees offence and will remain competitive in a talented quarterback room that features recruits Sawyer Buettner and Ben Maracle, along with returnee Joshua Britton-Bailey.

RECs Kalem Beaver and Carter Matheson - The team's go-to receivers last season will look to continue to make a rise as one of the most athletic and reliable receiving cores in the OUA. Beaver, a representative at the 2018 U SPORTS East-West Bowl, will continue to be a weapon, translating his 4.38 second 40-yard-dash time into 107.5 all-purpose yards per game last season. Matheson, at 6-3, 210 lbs., increased his receiving yardage from 86 yards in 2016 to 489 and two touchdowns in 2017. The fourth-year from Kingston will look to continue his upward trajectory this season.

Key recruits or transfers:

OL Nick Sine - From Canada Prep Academy (Welland, Ont.), and formerly Thousand Islands S.S. (Brockville, Ont.). At 6-2, 270 lbs. Sine has been playing at a high level in high school and was able to experience play on both sides of the border. Attended Nike's The Opening, the biggest college football recruiting showcase in North America last year in New Jersey.

QB Sawyer Buettner – Played three seasons with the Regina Thunder of the CJFL. Buettner led the nation in passing yards last season (2,198), threw for 16 touchdowns at a 67.4% completion percentage. The former product of A.E. Peacock Collegiate (Moose Jaw, Sask.) played for Team Saskatchewan and represented Team Canada at the International Bowl in 2015.

OL Zack Pelehos – Pelehos (6-6, 305 lbs.) was a can't miss recruit for Gee-Gees offensive line coach Carl Tolmie. The product of Gananoque S.S. (Gananoque, Ont.) shows great athleticism with his size and will be a contributing member of the team to start the year.

RB Jordan Burgher - A transfer from Chabot College, a Junior College in Hayward, Calif., will add depth to a strong stable of running backs for the Gee-Gees. The Toronto, Ont. native is an impressive 6-0, 225 lbs. power back that can add a different gear to the Ottawa backfield.

Key losses: Nicolas Dagher (REC), Tyler McLaren (REC)

DEFENCE

Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players:

CB Jamie Harry - The Lachine, Que. native was named a U SPORTS First Team All-Canadian and a First Team OUA All-Star. Harry led the OUA with five interceptions (2nd overall U SPORTS). Harry was second on the team with 42 tackles, and also recorded five pass breakups, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, and returned one of his interceptions for a 60-yard touchdown. Harry was one of three Gee-Gees at the 2018 U SPORTS Valero East-West Bowl.

CB Cody Cranston - Entering his fourth-year with the Gee-Gees, was third in the OUA with three interceptions, matching his mark from 2016. The Winnipeg native tallied 23 tackles on the season, returned one of his interceptions for a touchdown and was another representative at the East-West Bowl.

S Thomas Carrier – Fifth on the team in tackles last season with 33, Carrier is another veteran presence in a once again very strong Gee-Gees secondary. Carrier hits harder than his size and is a solid presence in pass coverage.

LB/DE Zach Plausini – A versatile defensive presence for the Gee-Gees, similarly to departing defensive star Khadim Mbaye, Plausini can play both in the linebacking corps and as a defensive end. Last year, the Hamilton, Ont. native picked up 22 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, and a pass break up.

Key recruits or transfers:

DE Jaden Lattamore – With all the intangibles of a great defensive end, Lattamore from London, Ont.'s South Collegiate, will be pressuring quarterbacks immediately for the Gee-Gees. Represented on Team Ontario at the Canada Cup.

DB Mike Miller – Transfer from StFX, Millar returns to his hometown to play for the Gee-Gees. Missed last season due to injury, in 2016 posted 29 tackles for the X-Men, in 2015 had 18.5 tackles in his first season.

DT Harley Burke – From Leo Hayes H.S. (Fredericton, N.B.), Burke brings undeniable size and athleticism to the defensive tackle position. Standing 6-5 and having cut down to a leaner 295 lbs., Burke has the attributes to cause fits for opposing offences.

LB Kyle Rodger – A transfer from the Montréal Carabins, Rodger returns to the National Capital Region where he attended Cégep de l'Outaouais in Gatineau, Que. Outside linebacker with a high upside this season with Ottawa.

DB Ryk Vanderpol – A transfer from Carleton, Vanderpol moves up the Rideau Canal to uOttawa. At 6-3, 190 lbs. the Nelson H.S. (Burlington, Ont.) product will be a solid addition to the Gee-Gees defence.

Key losses: Jackson Bennett (DB, Hamilton Tiger-Cats), Ty Cranston (S, Montreal Alouettes), Khadim Mbaye (LB/DE, Montreal Alouettes), Alain Pae (DE)

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Key returning players: Jason-Lee Jones (LS), Kalem Beaver (RET), Bryce Vieira (RET), Loic Legendre (P)

Key recruits or transfers:

K Max Capriotti – From Bishop Tonnos C.S.S. (Ancaster, Ont.). In his rep football season this summer with the Hamilton Varsity Tiger Cats VR (OPFL), Capriotti led the province hitting 12 of 13 field goals and 12 of 12 on extra points.

K Campbell Fair – From Nicholson Catholic College (Belleville, Ont.). In his rep football season this summer with the Kingston Grenadiers VR (OPFL), Fair went 8 for 8 on both field goals and extra points.

Key losses: Lewis Ward (K, Ottawa REDBLACKS), Jackson Bennett (DB/RET, Hamilton Tiger-Cats)