The 2016 season in review – Part 1

2016’s Highlights by Month

January

♦ The head coach’s position was vacant heading into the new year. With a replacement for retired Athletic Director Tom Kendall not announced before Christmas it was starting look like it might be a long time before a new Head Coach would be announced. Some of our OUA competitors were the making sure the “uncertainty at Guelph” was on the minds of recruits. The program needed someone in charge. On January 11 it was announced that Defensive Coordinator Kevin MacNeill would be promoted to the Head Coach’s position on an interim basis for the 2016 season.

♦ In mid-January we finally learn Scott McRoberts will be the new Director of Athletics. A choice that I didn’t waste any time in saying … I liked very much.

♦  Before January was over the team’s Wildman Awards Dinner was held at the Delta Hotel. Fourth year special teams captain and engineering student Patrick McGrath won the Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy which has been awarded since 1932 to the senior or graduating player who has “exemplified to the highest degree the traits of sportsmanship, leadership, gentlemanly conduct and who has maintained good scholarship”. Other major award winner included John Rush, Curtis Newton, Jacob Scarfone and Matt Toppan. Read the full story with all the award winners here.

2015 Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy winner - Pat McGrath

2015 Ted Wildman Memorial Trophy winner – Pat McGrath

February

♦ The Friends of Gryphon Football regional alumni receptions kicked off with February events at the St. Catharines Golf & Country Club and the International Plaza in Toronto. The 2016 edition of these regional gatherings quickly became known as The Yates Cup Victory Tour. Everyone in attendance had a chance to view the plans and mock-ups for the new $8.5 million football pavilion.

Head Coach Kevin MacNeill addresses alumni and supporters at Niagara reception

Head Coach Kevin MacNeill addresses alumni and supporters at Niagara reception

Alumni listen to OC Galloway at Toronto reception

Alumni listen to OC Galloway at Toronto reception

March

♦ Ten Gryphons participated in the CFL’s Toronto Regional Combine or the national CFL Combine. Participating in the Regional were James Ingram, Mack Myers, Tristan Doughlin, Colin Mandich, Kyle Fraser-Audit, A’dre Fraser, Matt Toppan, Ryan Nieuwesteeg and Donny Egerter. Several Gryphons posted impressive testing numbers. Egerter received an invitation to the national E-Camp where he joined his previously invited teammate Curtis Newton.

Ten Gryphon participants along with S&C coach Jordan Foley

Ten Gryphon participants along with S&C coach Jordan Foley

♦ There were two more successful stops on the Yates Cup Victory Tour were held in March. First, at the Wellington Brewery in Guelph and, second, a reception in London for the first time, where the alumni present included three Wildman Trophy winners – Bill Sproule (1958), Dr. Steve Stewart (1969) and Sam Benincasa (1983).

Head Coach Kevin MacNeill answers questions from the audience

Head Coach Kevin MacNeill answers questions from the audience

Gryphons defensive end pipeline from London area - (l-r) Devin Catt [2016 recruit], Derek Droulliard [3rd yr], Erik Anton [2016 rercruit], Cam Walker [Toronto Argos] & Grant MacDonald [former OUA all star]

Gryphons defensive end pipeline from London area – (l-r) Devin Catt [2016 recruit], Derek Droulliard [3rd yr], Erik Anton [2016 rercruit], Cam Walker [Toronto Argos] & Grant MacDonald [former OUA all star]

♦ Coach MacNeill was also in the process of re-making his coaching staff. This blog essentially made the announcement that we had been waiting for – Patience pays off for new Def Coord Adam Grandy. We also wrote about some of the other new faces and re-assigned duties here.

April

♦ The rumours were true … the Toronto Argonauts were heading to Guelph for training camp – And today it’s official … Argos to Guelph. The Argos chose Guelph because of the quality of the turf field and the facilities.

May

Five Gryphons heard their names called in the CFL Draft. Congratulations were in order for Curtis Newton, Kyle Fraser-Audit, A’dre Fraser, Matt Toppan and Ryan Nieuwesteeg.

♦ The 6th Annual FoGF Gala Dinner was a record-setting success. That included an all-time high for attendance with 320 people in the Delta Ballroom. This was the fifth year that an Honour Jersey was presented. Recognized was #73 of Mike Hudson, an all-Canadian and OUA all-star tight end and slotback from the early 1980s. The first recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Ring was 1964 Ontario Agricultural College graduate Don Taylor.

Gala 2016

♦ In May the two-year fundraising endeavour, Triple Victory Project, reached its conclusion. As of the first week of May it had raised $809,000 in donations which were matched by Head Coach Emeritus Stu Lang, for a total of $1,618,000. Manager of Development for Athletics Cory Hector said there were several other scholarship initiatives still in the works that would bring the total close to the $2 million goal.

June

♦ This year’s recruiting class was introduced. Thirty-one incoming recruits attended a Meet the Team event and Family Luncheon. This recruiting class included approximately 40 committed and signed recruits. I broke the numbers down in several ways here.

Offensive players in 2016 recruiting class

Offensive players in 2016 recruiting class

Defensive players in 2016 recruiting class

Defensive players in 2016 recruiting class

♦ As many as 14 Gryphons could see action with Canadian Football League teams in the next couple of weeks as the CFL’s pre-season is now underway. Gryphons.ca has a list of Gryphons who are still at CFL camps. There were also 6 Gryphons who held management or coaching positions with CFL teams.

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