Just a quick note that this year's East-West Bowl, the annual showcase for top CIS football players, will be televised and webcast live for the first time at 4 p.m. today. The game will be shown live from McMaster's new Ron Joyce Stadium (Timbits, anyone?) on Cable 14 in the Hamilton area, and the TV feed can also be seen on the web both at the Streaming Sports Network's site and on the CIS site.
It should be a pretty good match. There's some quality talent on display, including CIS Player of the Year and BLG Award runner-up Jamall Lee, the star running back from Bishop's who will suit up for the East squad. Lee put up 1464 rushing yards this year, almost 300 more than his nearest rival in CIS competition (Calgary's Anthony Woodson, who finished with 1183). One of the Eastern quarterbacks is Queen's Dan Brannagan, who finished third in Ontario and sixth in Canada in passing yards last season with 2123 yards on 112 completions (good for a very impressive average of 18.96 yards per completion). He'll face competition from Laval's Benoit Groulx, who finished first in the CIS with a 75.86% completion percentage (in a small sample size of four games) and Mount Allison's Kelly Hughes, the top AUS passer with 2048 yards on 153 completions. The East's receiver corps includes Hughes' teammate Gary Ross, who finished 12th in the country and first in AUS competition with 633 yards receiving on 36 catches, an average of 17.58 yards per catch. An Eastern defensive standout is defensive back Anthony Lukca of the McGill Redmen, who finished first in CIS with 71.5 tackles this year.
The West also has some quality players, starting at quarterback, where Western's Michael Faulds, Guelph's Justin Dunk and Laurier's Ian Noble will compete for minutes. The three pivots finished third, 13th and 14th in CIS competition in passing yards last year, with 2292, 1784 and 1388 yards respectively. One of their top targets will be Waterloo receiver Joshua Svec, who finished 17th in OUA competition last season with 334 yards on 17 catches, averaging 19.65 yards per catch. Other options at receiver include the McMaster tandem of Andrew Ross and Matt Giordano, as well as Saskatchewan's Travis Gorski and Scott McHenry. At running back, the West has Alberta's Tendayi Jozzy, Saskatchewan's Tyler O'Gorman, Laurier's Peter Quinney and UBC's Cheng Wei. Jozzy put up the most rushing yards last season, recording 577 on 110 carries in seven games (5.25 yards per carry). A defensive player to watch for the West is Calgary's Andrea Bonaventura, a linebacker who recorded two interceptions and 26 tackles in just five games for the Dinos last year. Another defensive star is Bonaventura's teammate Matt Grohn, a defensive back who racked up 39 solo tackles in just seven games for the Dinos last season. Regina linebacker Brandon Ganne also will suit up for the West: he put up 39 solo tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in last year's campaign.
Historically, the East-West Bowl has been quite the talent showcase. 24 of the 33 CIS players picked in the April 30 CFL Draft played in the 2007 game, and another player chosen this year played in the 2006 edition. You can bet the scouts will be watching, along with the rest of us. I'll check in here with some thoughts after the game.