With this announcement last week from the Department of Athletics, we finally have a complete picture of head coach Ryan Sheahan’s new coaching staff.
The key hires were Mark Surya as offensive coordinator and Donnavan Carter as special teams coordinator. Both coaches have served in similar positions with UofT for the past two years. This is Carter’s second stint with the Gryphons, having served as DBs coach and recruiting coordinator in 2016.
Previously, it was known that Sheahan had retained coaches Mike MacDonald [O-Line], Brian Cluff [D-Line], Joe Sardo [LBs] and Mark Forsyth [DBs]. Dennis McPhee was announced as the team’s Defensive Coordinator back in February.
I’ve never met Surya and only know of him by reputation. Not so for Ryan Sheahan who was Surya’s position coach at Queen’s from 2007 to 2009. According to Sheahan, Surya has an intimate understanding of what he wants to do on offense. That may explain why Sheahan hired him as OC after originally saying he would be his own OC.
From the announcement …
At just 30-years-old, Mark Surya has already established himself as one of the top offensive minds in the conference after having previously held offensive coordinator positions at Wilfrid Laurier University as well as U of T. During his final season as offensive coordinator with the Golden Hawks in 2016, Surya handled play-calling duties for a Laurier offence that led the country in rushing yards per game (281.4), while also ranking second in points per game (42.6) and total touchdowns (43). That season, Surya was part of a Laurier team that claimed the 109th Yates Cup with a come-from-behind 43-40 win over the Western Mustangs.
I like the fact that Surya utilized a high-powered running game at Laurier while he also understands Sheahan’s pro-style passing concepts. I’m hopeful this means he’ll be able to utilize effectively the young talent Guelph has at the running back position, particularly until the pieces are in place for a pro-style passing offense.
* * *
I’m happy to see Coach Carter back in Guelph. I think he will bring a lot to the program as a recruiter and on special teams. He has a lot to live up to given the sustained success of Bill Brown’s Special teams units from 2010 to 2017.
“It’s awesome to be back in Guelph,” says Carter, a 43-year-old Brampton native who has been coaching in the OUA since 2008, holding defensive coordinator positions with both the Windsor Lancers as well as the Toronto Varsity Blues. “The Gryphons have done an outstanding job on special teams in recent years and I’m hoping to add to that and take it to the next level.
* * *
There are four other new faces on the coaching staff.
♦ Devan Sheahan, Ryan’s younger brother and former Queen’s receiver, will coach the team’s receivers. After a strong 5-year career as a receiver with the Golden Gaels, Devan coached the Queen’s receivers for the past 8 years.
♦ Former Western QB Stevenson Bone will be the new operations manager and work with the quarterbacks. Bone spent last season working in the CFL’s Operations department.
♦ Coming to Guelph from Calgary is Bryce Harper. He will coach the running backs and serve as assistant strength and conditioning coach. Harper played running back for Sheahan in his Dinos offense in 2015 and 2016.
♦ Former Mac Marauder Tom Sterling will assist Mike MacDonald with the offensive line. Sterling is a Burlington Stampeder product. I’m assuming that he was coached by MacDonald back in his Varsity days.
* * *
The 2019 Gryphon Football Coaching Staff
Head Coach: Ryan Sheahan
Defensive Coordinator: Dennis McPhee
Offensive Coordinator: Mark Surya
Special Teams Coordinator: Donnavan Carter
Offensive Line: Mike MacDonald
Defensive Line: Brian Cluff
Linebackers: Joe Sardo
Defensive Backs: Mark Forsyth
Quarterbacks/Football Operations: Stevenson Bone
Running Backs/Assistant Strength Coach: Bryce Harper
Assistant Offensive Line: Tom Sterling
Receivers: Devan Sheahan
Offensive Assistant: Rob Kitching
Kicking Coach: Daniel Ferraro
Player Personnel: John Casasanta
Player Personnel: Stephen O’Brien
Academic Coordinator: Lindsay Williams
Equipment Manager: Frank Tersigni