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Montreal Carabins quarterback Senecal picks up the Hec Crighton Trophy

Montreal Carabins quarterback Senecal picks up the Hec Crighton Trophy

Kingston, Ontario. – Historical precedent by Jonathan Senecal.

The Montreal Carabins midfielder received the Hec Crighton Trophy at the U Sport Soccer Awards on Thursday night. This honor is presented annually to the outstanding Canadian university football player.

The six-foot-tall, 200-pound Senecal became the first Carabiner to receive the award.

“It’s a great honor,” Senecal said. “I don’t really care about awards, I’m not going to lie…but it’s a first in Carabins’ history and I’m very happy about that.”

Senecal, 24, of Mirabel, Que., led the RSEQ in passing, completing 160 of 230 passes (69.6 percent) for 2,215 yards with 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions. The third-year business administration student also ranked fourth in rushing with a school-record 394 yards on 34 carries (11.6-yard average) and six touchdowns.

Senecal led Montreal to a 7-1 regular season record. The Carabins face UBC in the Vanier Cup on Saturday afternoon at Richardson Stadium.

“It (Hec Crighton) is nothing compared to the Vanier Cup,” Senecal said. “I am very happy to receive this award, it means I am doing something great.

“We just have to prove on Saturday that we are the best team.”

Other award winners were Theo Benedet of the University of British Columbia (GB Mitras, Outstanding Lineman), and Harold Meysan of Montreal (Presidents’ Trophy, Outstanding Lineman). Laval’s Justin Cloutier (Peter Gorman Trophy, Rookie of the Year), Manitoba’s Mark Mohaus (Ross Jackson, Excellence in Football, Academics and Community Service) and Alberta’s Chris Morris (Frank Tindall Trophy, Coach of the Year).

The six-foot-seven, 305-pound Benedet earned the J.B. Mitras Award for the second straight year, becoming the first offensive lineman to do so and only the third player overall. Laval defensive ends Mathieu Bates and Arnaud Gascón Nadon are the others.

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Benedet, from North Vancouver, British Columbia, was Canada West’s player of the year for the second straight season. The fourth-year art student was a big part of UBC’s conference-leading offense and participated in the East-West Shrine Bowl last year.

“It’s very nice to be able to represent my teammates in terms of success,” he said. “When you play up front, the success of the unit only happens if the five move as a team, so that’s really a credit to the other four players next to me.

“Some of the people who won this award before me, like (retired NFL guard) Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, are a huge inspiration to me.”

Maysan, a six-foot, 201-pound linebacker, recorded a team-high 36 tackles (three for loss). The 24-year-old Montreal native, a third-year industrial design student, added a sack, a fumble recovery and two interceptions for the Carabins.

Like Senekal, Maysan has his eye on the bigger prize.

“It’s nice to be recognized but I’m here for the collective goal… the Vanier Cup,” Maysan said. “From my perspective, if you don’t win it, the other stuff doesn’t really mean anything.”

Morris led the Alberta Golden Bears to a 6-2 mark and a runner-up finish in Canada West. This was the school’s first winning record since 2005.

The former CFL offensive lineman — and three-time Gray Cup champion — has led Alberta to the playoffs in three of the past four years.

“It’s a huge honor,” Morris said. “I have a lot of respect for the other coaches around U Sports, it’s a great group of people who do the job I’m happy to do.

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“The 2024 version of our team is going to be strong. I think we have a really good group of kids, a really good staff and we’ve got to be strong going forward but every year is on its own.”

Cloutier, a 20-year-old from Quebec City, recorded 28.5 tackles (22 solo) in seven regular season games for Laval. The six-foot-tall, 215-pound fullback also became the fourth Rouge et Or player to win the award after Mathieu Bates (2015), Hugo Richard (2014) and Jean-Frédéric Tremblay (2000).

Rauhaus, a six-foot-tall, 285-pound offensive lineman for Manitoba, was honored for his play on the field and dedication off it. This year alone, the Winnipeg native was selected for the President’s Student Leadership Program as well as voted on by his peers to serve as a member of the UMAC Executive as Director of Bisons Against Bullying.

Senecal and Miessan were among eight Carabins named to the Canadian team’s first team. Others included guard Hassan Diouf, defensive tackle Christopher Fontenard, defensive end Jeremiah Ojo, defensive back Bruno Lagasse, cornerback Kaylen St. Cyr and rush/cover man Charles Elliott Polian.

The Western Mustangs named three players to the team, receiver Savaughn Magnaye-Jones, tackle Erik Andersen and safety Jackson Findlay.

Benedet and Lucas Robertson (utility player) are two of the Thunderbirds named to the squad.

Alberta (running back Matthew Peterson, center Danielle Schenn), Laurier (receiver Ethan Jordan, linebacker Yves Onyemenam), Saskatchewan (linebacker Nick Wiebe, cornerback Kately Joseph), Queens (running back Jared Cesari, defensive tackle Darren Newell) and Manitoba (receiver AK Gassama, goalkeeper Giordano Vaccaro) also had two players named.

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Defensive end Tyson Hergott (Waterloo), defensive back Eric Cumberbatch (Ottawa), receiver Darius Simmons (McGill), punter Aldo Galvan (Regina), kicker Ben Hadley (St. Francis Xavier) and returner Javonne Cunningham (Windsor) were also selected.

The rusher/coverage and utility (linebacker/tight end/H-back) designations were added this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2023.

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