Battle of the all-stars

The West took the win in the annual CIS East West bowl (Photo by Kate Turner)
The West took the win in the annual CIS East West bowl (Photo by Kate Turner)

LONDON, Ont. — Wilfrid Laurier men’s football players Jeremy Deneau, Michael Massel and Tyrrel Wilson spent a week learning from the best coaches and players through the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) at the East West Bowl last week. And through various skill-testing events, drills and a final all-star game, the three Laurier fourth-years are excited to bring back what they’ve learned to help their team in the upcoming year.

“I learned a lot from a lot of different coaches and the CFL guys were here so there were a lot of different drills and just a lot of practice,” full back Wilson said following Saturday’s game. “I’m just looking to take it all back to my own team.”

Wilson and fellow offensive linemen Deneau and Massel represented Laurier on the West team at the week-long training combine, an opportunity for CFL scouts to see the upcoming prospects for the following year.

The East team is comprised of the Atlantic conference schools, the Quebec conference schools and Queen’s, Ottawa and Toronto from the Ontario conference. The West team is made up of the Canada West conference and the remaining Ontario teams.

While Saturday’s all-star game ended in a final last-minute field goal that gave the West team their first win in four years, West head coach Stefan Ptaszek stressed that the game is for much more than a win.

“We try to keep the game plan very generic,” said the McMaster head coach and 2012 CIS coach of the year. “It’s not about coaches out-coaching, it’s about letting these guys showcase their talent, so game plan is very basic and we let our players play and they try to put on a show. And I think they did that.”

The five-day camp that the players partake in is the only time they get to spend with their fellow players before Saturday’s all-star game. Ptaszek said that the short amount of time is what makes things interesting for everyone involved.

“That’s the best part of the week,” he said. “Watching coaches from across the country integrate with players from across the country and the sense of team and sense of sacrifice. It all comes together in five short days.”

Wilson, Deneau and Massel all shared the same sentiments about bringing their knowledge back to the Hawks.

“[I want to] just help out the guys on the o-line [and] their techniques,” Deneau said.

“You learn so many things that it’s going to be easy to help them out in different ways.”

“Bringing all of the stuff we learned here back to our team is going to be a big help, and get everyone caught up,” Massel said.

With a young team and a new program under head coach Michael Faulds, the veterans will hope to take their experience and engage their teammates in the new season.

“We just got to go back and tell the guys that we’ve got to work. Every day, every practice,” Wilson said. “We just got to stay together, stick as a team and work hard.”

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