It only makes sense that there would be strong connections between the Gryphon football program and the Guelph Bears of the OVFL.
I would think in the past decade there may have been more than a dozen players from the OVFL Guelph Bears who have gone on to play for the Gryphons. Off the top of my head: past players include the Dunk brothers, Nick FitzGibbon, Alex Ferris; current players Jake Reinhart, Cody O’Neill, Mac Mackenzie; incoming recruits Mac Myers & James Ingram.
Several members of our coaching staff have also served as coaches with the Bears including all three of our current coordinators – Kevin MacNeill, Bill Brown & Todd Galloway. [MacNeill and Galloway were assistant coaches with WLU at the time they coached the Bears.]
In need of a coach for their Varsity team this season they called on Chris Decker, a Gryphon assistant the past two seasons. After a distinguish career as a Gryphon linebacker which culminated in OUA all-star honours in 2007, Decker served a season as a graduate assistant with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. I believe this is the first time Chris Decker has taken on the responsibilities of a head coach.
With plenty of openings on his coaching staff, Decker has enlisted the help of several current players. Among them is former Bear player and current Gryphon OL Cody O’Neill (pictured at left). He is coaching the O-line with assistance from Gryphon teammate Nick Woehl. Gryphon QB Luke Nangle is the offensive coordinator and QBs coach. Gryphon slotback Dave Honig is coaching the teams receivers. On the defensive side of the ball Jaryd Baines coaches the teams defensive backs.
The Bears are in a tough situation as a “small market team” with only half a dozen high schools from which to draw players. Unfortunately this season they barely had thirty players on their roster. The inevitable injuries that occur have made it difficult to field a complete team as the season progressed. So while the Bears enter the final week of the season with a 1-6 record, I’m sure its still been a great learning process for these young coaches. And they have made it possible for thirty young players to develop their skills while playing the game they love.
I don’t know whether Honig or Baines played OVFL football, though I do know that Luke Nangle and Nick Woehl played several OVFL seasons with the London Falcons and Niagara Spears respectively. Its great to see some of our players contributing back to the sport, and the league, they’ve been a part of. Hopefully this will be the begining of “coaching careers” for some of them.