Seven Mustangs named All-Canadians in Football

Steve Kopp

USports held their annual football awards ceremony and banquet on Thursday night.  The ceremony, part of the Vanier Cup week festivities was held at the London Convention Centre.

While the Mustangs were shut out of the major awards (despite having three team members nominated), Western did end up with five players named first team all-Canadians and two others named to the second team.

All Canadians

Four players from Western were named first all-Canadians on offence and one was named on defence.

  • Wide receiver Savaughn Magnaye-Jones (first team for the second straight year)
  • Centre Elliot Beamer (first team for the second straight year)
  • Offensive Guard Phillip Grohovac (second team all Canadian last year)
  • Running Back Keon Edwards (second team all Canadian last year)
  • Safety Daniel Valente Jr (first team for the second straight year)

Second team all-Canadians from Western were offensive tackle Zack Fry (second all Canadian for the second straight year) and defensive back Robert Panabaker (first time).


Western had a total of seven players named all-Canadian.  That tied Laval for the most of any team this year.  The Rouge-et-Or had six players named to the first team (four on offence and two on defence) and one player named to the second team.  Meanwhile the Saskatchewan Huskies, who are playing Laval in Saturday’s Vanier Cup, had four players named all stars, one on the first team and four on the second team.

For Daniel Valente Jr, his season started with attending training camp with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks.  They liked what they saw, but felt it was better if he spent one more year playing university football.  

“It was a goal of mine to get that task done, get the first team all-Canadian. I’m just happy I got the goal done. You know it’s not necessarily the way we wanted it, in the fashion that we wanted it.  But still looking through the darkness for that little bit of light.” said Valente after the ceremony as he tried to find the positive through the negative of losing last week’s Mitchell Bowl to Laval.  Valente has used up his five years of eligibility and will be heading back to the Redblacks training camp in May.

As for Elliot Beamer, being name all-Canadian for the second year in a row is nice, but getting to the Vanier Cup would have been better.  “It’s icing on the cake,” said Beamer.  “But obviously, what you want is for the team success, especially when you play O-line.  You want the group unit you bought into to succeed.  But it is nice.”  For Beamer, he can come back for one more season, but at this stage he is not sure if his days as a university student and football player are over or not.

Running back Keon Edwards finished the season as the leading rusher in all of Canada university football, having rushed for 1032 yards in total and over 100 yards in all eight regular season games (plus all three playoff games).  “Honestly, it’s great,” said Edwards.  “Last year I got second team, so to get the first team this year, I think it hits home.  Again, I do all this for the guys on the team.  This team has to be one of the closest teams I’ve been on -- brothers, family.”  Edwards has another year of eligibility left, but he is not sure if he will be back with Western next year or not.  He will wait to see what the CFL draft has in store for him.


Philip Grohovac has likely played his last game for the Mustangs.  The fourth-year guard will graduate this year and is not sure what the future holds for him.  But getting named first team all-Canadian means a lot to him.  “It means a lot of the hard work I put in paid off for me this year” said Grohovac after the ceremony.  “You know you would have liked to see the season end a different way.  I’d give away the personal awards for team awards, but you have to appreciate them when they come your way.”

It is interesting to note the two starting quarterbacks in this year’s Vanier Cup were named all-Canadians.  Arnaud Dejardins of the Laval Rouge-et-Or was named first team all-Canadian at quarterback, while Mason Nyhus of the Huskies was named second team quarterback.

Major Award Winners

Hec Crighton Trophy (player of the year)
Winner: Kevin Mital, receiver Laval
Mital led the country in receptions (58 catches) and yardage (751 yards) and scored 12 touchdowns
other nominees included Mustang running back Keon Edwards 

JP Metras Trophy (Down lineman of the year)
Winner:  Theo Benedet, offensive tackle, University of British Columbia
Benedet is the 8th ranked CFL Draft prospect, tops among any USports athlete
He is the first offensive lineman to take the Metra trophy since 2013 and only the second UBC Thunderbird to win the trophy

President’s Trophy (Standup defensive player of the year)
Winner:  Nicky Farinaccio, linebacker Montreal Carabins
Farinaccio led the country with 10.5 sacks on the season and is the first Carabin player to win the President’s Trophy
Other nominees included Mustang safety Daniel Valente Jr

Peter Gorman Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
Winner:  Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald, quarterback McGill Redbirds
Led all rookie quarterbacks with 2004 passing yards on the season, and was 11th overall in rushing yards in the country with 602 yards
He had two 100-yard rushing combined with 300-yard passing games, both against Laval

Frank Tindall Trophy (Coach of the year)
Winner:  Gary Waterman, St. Francis Xavier
Waterman has been named AUS coach of the year five times, but this is his first USports coach of the year honour
Other nominees included Mustang head coach Greg Marshall

Russ Jackman Award (Student-Athlete, Community service)
Winner:  Duncan Patterson, quarterback Saint Mary’s Huskies

Gino Fracas Award (Oustanding volunteer assistant coach)
Winner:  Mike Circelli, Windsor Lancers

Vanier Cup

The Vanier Cup game goes on Saturday.  Kick off is set for 1 pm.  The game features the Saskatchewan Huskies (winner of the Uteck Bowl 39-13 over St. FX) versus the Laval Rouge-et-Or (winners of the Mitchell Bowl 27-20 over Western).   The Huskies will be considered the home team.

The Huskies are in their 11th Vanier Cup game.  They are 3-7 in their previous appearances.  They have lost their last 5 Vanier Cups, including last year’s game against Western.  They have not won it since 1998 when they beat Concordia 24-17 (a game in which their current head coach Scott Flory was a player for Saskatchewan).

As for Laval, they will be making their 13th appearance in the championship game.  They are 10-2 in their previous appearances, having only lost 41-38 to McMaster in 2011 and 39-17 to Western in 2017.

“I’m really proud,” said Mustang head coach Greg Marshall after the awards ceremony about how Western and London has stepped up to host the Vanier Cup.  “I’m proud of the city of London, Western, our administration, our department, tourism London, for coming together and the community to make this game happen and make it a success.  And we are not in it.  It will be a little difficult to watch the game on Saturday, but Sunday I’ll wake up and start getting ready for next year.”

Gates open at 9 am on Saturday and prior to kickoff, there is a Fan Fest happening in the parking lot outside Alumni Stadium.  It will include music, games, food trucks and interviews with former Mustang players such as Chris Merchant, Marc Liegghio, Lirim Hajrullau, Andy Fantuz, Craig Butler, Dylan Giffen and Deionte Knight, along with current London athletes Damien Warner and Alysha Newman.  Halftime show performer Delaney Jane will make an appearance as well.