Six Niagara players named to East-West Bowl rosters
Keaton Bruggeling is one of six Niagara players chosen for the rosters of the East-West Bowl. Submitted photo.
The Niagara Spears travel football organization is beaming with pride after six of its former players were named to the rosters of the 2021 East-West Bowl by U SPORTS and the Canadian Football League.
Unfortunately, no game will be played due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rosters include the next generation of top Canadian football prospects and identifies 110 U SPORTS-eligible standouts for the 2022 CFL Draft.
Named to the roster were: Waterloo Warriors quarterback Tre Ford (A.N. Myer); Waterloo Warriors defensive back Tyrell Ford (A.N. Myer); Queen’s defensive lineman Anthony Federico (Saint Michael); Carleton defensive lineman Sandor Mod (Notre Dame); Carleton running back Josh Ferguson (Sir Winston Churchill); and, Carleton wide receiver Keaton Bruggeling (Eden).
“We are very proud of them and ecstatic for them,” said Niagara Spears varsity head coach Brian Duguay. “It just proves that the hard work pays off, not just for those six but all the players. It is nice too see Niagara get represented as well as it did.”
Duguay is quick to point out that the success of the players is the result of the coaching they have received from their high school coaches and travel coaches. Niagara high school coaching staffs are loaded with talent and several of them have also coach with the Spears over the years.
“Without the high school coaches, the Spears would be nothing,” Duguay said. “We have the privilege of coaching the kids for the summer and we have the privilege of having coaches at every position which is hard for high schools. The high school coaches do a good job and there’s a lot of great coaches in the region who have given players the opportunity to move on and for these six to be recognized.”
Niagara football players are highly sought after for more than just their skills.
“For some reason, Niagara football players are known as the Lunchbox Crew,” Duguay said. “They go out and do their job, they are very coachable, they are very open, it’s ‘Yes sir’ and ‘No sir’ and here they go. A lot of university coaches are very high on Niagara players.”
Duguay is sky high on all the Niagara players selected to the East-West Bowl rosters starting with Tre Ford, a 2019 Second Team All-Canadian in 2019 and the 2018 Ontario University Athletics Player of the Year. An A.N. Myer, Tre led his team to three straight Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association Bowls.
“He came out to the Spears and you could see it right away. He had this drive,” Duguay said. “All the coaches still talk about how his first pass for the Niagara Spears was an interception. He came back and looked at us and said, ‘That will never happen again.’ His next pass was for a touchdown and that’s the type of person he is.
“He and his brother drive each other and it is funny the competition between them. There is so much football knowledge between them and the hard work and preparation they put in is amazing.”
“They have come so far and there has been a lot of naysayers, especially towards Tre as a quarterback.”
Tyrell has made a name for himself in the OUA as both a defensive back and a returner.
“Tyrell is very special and he has gifts and talents like his brother,” Duguay said. “They are on opposite sides of the ball but they are both quarterbacks for their side of the ball. When he started his career at Waterloo, Tyrell also returned two kicks for touchdowns.”
Duguay describes Mod as a typical Niagara player.
“He brings his lunchbox, he puts in a lot of hard work, he’s very dedicated and I am happy and pleased that he found somewhere to play and continue his education,” he said. “He a happy-go-lucky guy but when you put a helmet on him, he’s a mean guy in the trenches. He is hard to move around and he is tough with a lot of football knowledge.”
Swift is the first word that pops in Duguay’s head when talking about Federico.
“I have never see a guy come off the ball so fast and with so many different moves that he has practised, you can’t get a handle on what he is going to come out with,” he said. “His tool belt has so much different weaponry on it that it makes him one of those players you don’t want to play against. He’s another player with football knowledge and he is a hard grinder.”
Ferguson is described as a gentle giant by Duguay.
“I don’t know if he said two words at the beginning of his career with us but by the end, he had an overall role model demeanour,” he said. “When we needed something to get going, it was between him and Chase (Bowden). Give him the ball and he just goes. The more the game went on, the more touches he got and he got stronger.”
Bruggeling is a classic late bloomer.
“The biggest problem with Keaton when he first started playing for us was that he needed to believe in himself and his skills,” Duguay said. “We saw flashes and you knew it was coming. He worked hard, he has a very good body for the position that he plays and he has good hands.”
During the 2021 season, it is expected players on the East-West Bowl rosters will battle it out for spots on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s Top 20 Prospects List.
“We’re excited to unveil the next top draft-eligible prospects in partnership with the CFL. Although we are not able to hold the East-West Bowl again this spring due to the ongoing pandemic, we wanted to honour the 2022 class for their dedication over the past year and look forward to hopefully watching them safely return to the gridiron this fall,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, USPORTS chief sports officer in a press release.
The CFL thanked the Canadian University Football Coaches Association for its collaboration and dedication in selecting the top draft-eligible prospects in U SPORTS.
“The process of preparing for the 2022 CFL Draft begins now and our teams are looking forward to evaluating all players in the months ahead,” said Ryan Janzen, the CFL’s associate vice president of football operations.
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