Football Hawks leave their mark among all-stars

LONDON, Ont. – One wore the Golden Hawk helmet, and one donned the purple Mustangs headgear.

The stallion and the bird of prey aren’t too fond of each other in the Ontario University Athletics football circuit – or in any competition arena really.

But on May 7, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Shamawd Chambers and Western’s Donnie Marshall connected on a scene that not even Hawks football bench boss Gary Jeffries would have guessed he’d ever witness in all his years at the helm.

Down 14-7 and looking like his Team West was heading for a second straight loss at the annual Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) East West Bowl (essentially the Canadian university all-star game), Mustangs’ quarterback Marshall threw a desperate pass to what seemed like nowhere, past the end zone.

Almost as if they had been doing it for years, Laurier’s receiver Chambers was at exactly the right spot at the right time for Marshall.

Marshall threw and Chambers caught the 25-yard pass at the tip of the perimeter outlining the purple “Mustangs”-lettered end zone.

That second quarter touchdown would be the turning point for Team West to pick up steam on its way to a 34-27 extra-time loss, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort or team spirit.

“I guess a lot,” Chambers said when asked how much confidence the coaches seemed to have to keep throwing him back out into pivotal situations.

“To get that type of love from them, I just thank God everyday that I get to be able to play this position and play this game,” said Team West’s leading yards receiver and a potential 2012 Canadian Football League top-10 draft pick.

“He was absolutely tremendous,” Jeffries said of his star receiver. “Right from the first day out here when he was tested, he turned a lot of heads.”

That Western-Laurier, friendly-fire partnership wasn’t an isolated incident in London on that day.

Prior to the game, Western hosted a combine and a set of training drills, as players from universities all across the country became a little more familiarized with their peers.

Jeffries- a part of Team West’s coaching staff, knows how valuable experiences like this are for his players.

“It was about the kids getting the opportunity to go out there and show what they can do and to go to that next level; that’s what this week was about,” said Jeffries.

“The camaraderie and the bonding coast to coast and meeting new friends- I think in that regard it was a fantastic week… The scoreboard’s quite secondary.”

Mitchell Bosch also made the squad but had to sit out due to an ankle injury.

In addition to Chambers, Hawks’ defensive back Shane Burns made an appearance in the Bowl, as well as linebacker Daniel Bishop.

Bishop made his presence felt.

The Mississauga native was Team West’s top defensive player, amassing eight tackles for a fine outing.

“It went really well,” Bishop said of his experience with the elite players. “The coaches are definitely one of a kind and I’m glad they were there to help us all week… Everyone’s here to support each other.”

Even with a star-studded cast, the best players across Canada never forgot where they came from.

“I’m really appreciative that [my family] came out. It’s a long drive from [Markham],” Bishop said as a fan gathering grew around him on the field after the game.

“I appreciate every single moment I have with everybody here, ‘cause you never know when you’re going to lose it.”

“Nope- Mother’s Day,” smiled Bishop when he was asked if he had party plans for the CFL draft on May 8.

Laurier’s fall training camp commences Aug. 22.

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