Waterloo’s Tre Ford first Black QB to win Hec Crighton Trophy as top player in Canadian university football

Photo courtesy: U Sports

Waterloo Warriors quarterback Tre Ford has been named the winner of the Hec Crighton Trophy on Thursday night as the most outstanding player in U SPORTS football at the annual Vanier Cup gala in Quebec City.

Other major award recipients include Alberta Golden Bears linebacker Josiah Schakel, the most outstanding Defensive Player of the Year (Presidents’ Trophy); Western Mustangs defensive end Deionte Knight voted best down lineman (J.P Metras Trophy); Concordia Stingers receiver Jaylan Greaves as top rookie (Peter Gorman Trophy); Queen’s Gaels bench boss Steve Snyder as the Fox 40 Coach of the Year; Guelph Gryphon’s Michael MacDonald as the volunteer coach of the year (Gino Fracas Award), and the late Francis Perron of the University of Ottawa who was honoured for his excellence in football, academics, and citizenship (Russ Jackson Award).

The Scotiabank Vanier Cup, presented by Levio is Saturday at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT on CBC TV and TVA Sports. Live streaming of the match-up between the Saskatchewan Huskies and Western Mustangs is also available on the CBC’s digital platforms (CBC Gem, CBCSports.ca, and the CBC Sports app) and on TVASports.ca with a valid subscription.

Photo courtesy: Waterloo Athletics

Tre Ford – 2021 Hec Crighton Award (U SPORTS outstanding player of the year)

A dual-threat quarterback, Ford is a two-time OUA conference most valuable player finishing the season in the top 10 of both passing and rushing in Canada.

The Recreation and Leisure student completed 118 of the 186 passes (63.4%), throwing for 1465 yards and ten touchdowns. Averaging 244 yards per game in the air, he also finished fourth in Canada in rushing with 629 yards in six contests while scampering for three more scores. He leads all U SPORTS rushers averaging 10.7 yards per carry.

“Winning the Hec Crighton award as National Player of the Year cements Tre’s legacy in Warriors football history as arguably the greatest of all-time,” said Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia. “Tre is a trailblazer. With this award he is the first Waterloo Warrior to ever win it, and he is the first black quarterback to ever win it. I’m so proud of his perseverance and determination. It’s been an honour to have the opportunity to coach Tre. He is a tremendous person, quarterback, and teammate. He can and will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to. Our team, coaching staff, and football alumni can’t wait to see what is next for Tre.”

Ford’s most impressive performance of the season came in Waterloo’s season finale against Wilfrid Laurier. Needing a win to qualify for the playoffs and trailing at the beginning of the fourth quarter, Ford threw three touchdown passes in the final period to complement his 290 yards passing and 97 yards rushing on the day.

He was ranked ninth in the most recent Canadian Football League (CFL) Scouting Bureau’s prospect list and was honoured as the 2017 U SPORTS rookie of the year.

Photo courtesy: Dean Creechan / Western Mustangs Athletics

Deionte Knight – J.P. Metras Award (Outstanding Lineman)

Western’s Deionte Knight is the 2021 recipient of the J.P. Metras Award as the U SPORTS outstanding lineman.

After missing most of the past two years due to injury and the cancelled 2020 season, Deionte Knight returned as the lynchpin of the vaunted Mustangs defence en route to winning the J.P. Metras Award as the outstanding lineman in Canadian university football.

The fourth-year Arts and Humanities student led the nation with 7.5 quarterback sacks to go along with his 19 tackles. He also took a fumble recovery 12-yards for a touchdown in the Mustangs regular-season finale at Windsor.

“Deionte deserves this award, he’s had a great work ethic here and he is a leader on our team,” said Mustangs Head Coach Greg Marshall. “He’s gotten better every single week this year and I am proud of what Deionte has accomplished this year.”

Photo courtesy: Don Voaklander / Alberta Golden Bears Athletics

Josiah Schakel – Presidents’ Trophy (Outstanding defensive player)

Alberta linebacker, Josiah Schakel is the 2021 Presidents’ Trophy winner as the U SPORTS Outstanding defensive player.

The Sherwood Park, Alta. product led Canada West with 51.5 tackles in 6 contests for the Golden Bears. His 8.6 tackles per game were the best in Canada this season while adding four sacks eight tackles for a loss, and three forced fumbles.

Schakel is a two-time Academic All-Canadian studying at the highly competitive Alberta School of Business and was the Canada West nominee for the Russ Jackson Award.

“Even more impressive than Josiah’s presence on the field however is his impact on our team as a leader and his impact on our community through his service. Josiah is a team captain and has been a tremendous source of leadership in our program since his arrival,” said U of A head coach Chris Morris. “The integrity, hard work, and dedication he displays daily give him profound credibility and effectiveness as a leader on our team.”

Photo courtesy: Concordia Athletics

Jaylan Greaves – Peter Gorman Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

First-year Concordia slotback Jaylan Greaves is the 2021 winner of the Peter Gorman Trophy, emblematic of the top rookie football player in U SPORTS.

The six-foot-two, 170 pounds player caught 27 passes for 605 yards and five touchdowns in eight games.

He was sixth in Canada for total receiving yards, fifth in touchdowns, first in average yards per catch (22.4) and he had the longest play of the season with a 77-yard catch for a TD on Oct. 23 against McGill.

“Jaylan is competitive. That’s the biggest thing when describing him,” said Concordia head coach Brad Collinson. “His accomplishments in his first year of university football are remarkable. Every game he made a big play. He had a lot of clutch plays when we needed them and he was consistent all season long.”

He is the second Stinger in as many seasons to win the Peter Gorman Trophy Jeremy Murphy won in 2019.

Photo courtesy: University of Ottawa

Francis Perron – Russ Jackson Award (Community Service Award)

The late Francis Perron has been posthumously awarded the Russ Jackson Award as the football player best exemplifying the attributes of academic achievement, football skill, and citizenship.

The Sherbrooke, Que., resident is being recognized for his career of excellence in the classroom and on the field.

A three-time Academic All-Canadian, Perron tragically passed away following the team’s first game this season against Toronto on September 18, 2021. He was posthumously granted his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering (co-op) by the University of Ottawa this fall.

“A bright, passionate, and caring person, Francis poured himself into his craft as a player and his academic pursuit of becoming an engineer. In the classroom, he was as big of a star as on the field, becoming a multiple-time U Sports Academic All-Canadian while studying Mechanical Engineering,” said University of Ottawa Rector Jacques Fremont, shortly after Perron’s passing.

“Francis was an outstanding person, teammate, and veteran leader that made us better in every way possible. Francis was the ultimate leader,” said Gee-Gees head coach Marcel Bellefeuille. “He did everything by example. He was excellent in every area of his life and we’re all better for having known him.”

In his final full U SPORTS season in 2019, Perron had 14 tackles (11 solos, six assisted) — 2.5 for a loss), a sack, and a fumble recovery for a touchdown in the Panda Game.

Photo courtesy: OUA

Steve Snyder – Frank Tindall Trophy (Fox 40 Coach of the Year Award)

Queen’s University head coach Steve Snyder is the recipient of the Frank Tindall Trophy and the 2021 Fox 40 U SPORTS football Coach of the Year Award. The Gaels posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the OUA Eastern Division.

The Gaels were one of the stingiest teams in the country, allowing just 7.3 points against per game and three touchdowns in the regular season.

“I’ve worked with some great assistant coaches in my time as a coach at this level, some really special ones, including our current staff. I’d like to thank you guys all for everything you do because the 2021 coaching staff of the year award goes to Queen’s Football. A group that takes pride in the process of football, working together, and enjoying every moment. What a special group,” said Snyder.

“Our players, the true award winners here. Just a tremendous group of young men from across the country. Truly high-character individuals who care deeply about the tradition of our program and are working hard to cement their legacy. It’s an honour to serve in a leadership role here at Queen’s Football for you guys.”

Photo courtesy: OUA

Michael MacDonald – Gino Fracas Award (Volunteer Coach of the Year)

Guelph Gryphons offensive line coach Michael MacDonald is the 2021 Gino Fracas Award winner as the Volunteer Coach of the Year in U SPORTS football.

MacDonald, in his 11th season with the Gryphons, is a retired member of the RCMP. He is a strong motivator and teacher that motivates students to give their maximum effort. This approach has helped nine of Guelph’s offensive linemen reach the CFL during his tenure.

“Coach MacDonald is one of the classiest coaches I have ever had the privilege to work with. He is truly deserving of this award, and myself and the entire Gryphon football family are thrilled that he is being recognized with the Gino Fracas Award as Volunteer Coach of the Year,” said Guelph head coach Ryan Sheahan. “Mike is somebody who works very hard to make sure his players are always at their best and his professionalism is surpassed only by his passion for his student-athletes.”

The former Waterloo Warrior player, MacDonald has made a lasting impact in the sport of football in his hometown of Burlington, Ont. He spent six years as a volunteer O-Line coach for Notre Dame Secondary School in addition to serving as the head coach of the Burlington Stampeders rep program for 17 seasons.

He joins Brian Cluff (2011) as just the second Gryphon coach to take home the national honour for outstanding career service by a volunteer coach.