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2017 U SPORTS Football Team Preview: Ottawa Gee-Gees

Wednesday August 23, 2017
Two football players in uniform on a black background.
Gord Weber

2016 regular season record: 6-2

It will be a busy first half of the 2017 season for the Gee-Gees, as their schedule kicks off on August 27 at Guelph. The team will return home for Queen’s, travel to York and McMaster, take on Windsor at home, and play the Panda Game vs. Carleton all before the month of September is out. A bye week over Thanksgiving kicks off October, before hosting Waterloo at Gee-Gees Field and traveling to Western to close out the regular season.

The Gee-Gees received non-combatants Laurier and Toronto for the second consecutive season, meaning they will play the same teams they went 6-2 facing in 2016.

2016 was a year that the Gee-Gees took another step in the right direction to return to contention in the OUA. Although the team will miss the offensive explosion that Second Team All-Canadians Derek Wendel and Mitchell Baines created, the team is confident that their roster is primed to go further this year.

Recruiting cornerstones were centered on weak points in the team’s play. The Gee-Gees have addressed needs for size and aggression on both the offensive and defensive lines, and as a result, the team’s rushing and run-stopping games should be markedly improved.
Quote from head coach: Jamie Barresi

I think our defence has really made some steps forward, guys in the secondary and the linebacker crew are real positives. The team as a whole has great leadership – we have a group of veterans here who are in their final season who have really embraced the whole thing and have been great examples for our younger guys.

Head Coach: Jamie Barresi

- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2017): 5

- Career regular season record in U SPORTS: 19-13

- Career overall record in U SPORTS (reg. season & playoffs only): 20-16


Number of returning starters: 7

Key returning players: Bryce Vieira (RB), Victor Twynstra (QB), Tyler McLaren (REC), Matt Bruder (OL)

Vieira, a Gee-Gee representative at the East-West Bowl, returns for his fourth season. Since his freshman year, Vieira has been a dual-threat back for Ottawa, showcasing shifty speed rushing the ball and a reliable option in the passing game. The Montreal, QC native racked up 947 all-purpose rushing, receiving, and return yards in 2016 with 6 total touchdowns.

Twynstra returns for a fifth-year and will be at the helm of the offence after backing up Derek Wendel since 2014. The Woodstock, ON product has shown flashes of excellent arm strength, accuracy, and a capability to extend plays on the run. In 5 regular season appearances in 2016, Twynstra was 8-12 passing for 150 yards and touchdown and tallied 56 yards on 6 rushes with a touchdown.

McLaren returns for his fifth year and should be a favourite target for Twynstra. In 2016, McLaren was third on the team with 28 receptions for 435 yards and a touchdown.

Bruder started at centre for the Gee-Gees in each game last season. Entering his fourth-year, Bruder will be a key veteran in Offensive Line Coach Carl Tolmie’s new-look unit.

Key recruits or transfers:

  • OL Tanner Bishop from Clarence Fulton S.S. (Vernon, BC) and Kamloops Broncos (BCFC/CJFL).
  • OL Brendon Sitko from Father Mercredi H.S. (Fort McMurray, AB) and Fort McMurray Monarchs (AFL/CMFL)
  • QB Alex Lavric from Lorne Park S.S. (Mississauga, ON). Two-time OFSSA Champion.
  • REC Tristian Park from Monsignor Paul Dwyer C.H.S. (Oshawa, ON).

Key losses: Derek Wendel  (QB, 2nd Team All-Canadian), Mitchell Baines (REC, 2nd Team All-Canadian), Patrick Spelman (OL, OUA All-Rookie team), Piriyanthan Sinnathurai (OL, OUA All-Rookie Team)


Number of returning starters: 8

Key returning players: Ty Cranston (S), Khadim Mbaye (LB), Jackson Bennett (LB), Cody Cranston (DB)

Ty Cranston, picked 56th overall in the 2017 CFL Draft by Montreal, returns for his fifth season in garnet and grey. The Winnipeg, MB product led the team in tackles with 54 in 2016 and will lead a group of experienced players in the secondary.

Mbaye enters his fourth season anchoring the middle of the Gee-Gees defence. The hard-hitting emotional leader of the front-seven tallied 42.5 tackles and 2 sacks last year. With a revamped defensive line in-front of him, Mbaye is primed for another solid season.

Bennett was named an OUA Second Team All-Star in 2016, which led to an appearance in the East-West Bowl. With an increased spotlight, Bennett will look to improve on his 38 tackles from last season. The Ottawa native has proven to be a threat stopping the run, defending the pass, and returning kicks.

Cody Cranston led the team with 3 interceptions last season and tallied 35.5 tackles from the cornerback spot. The former OUA All-Rookie team member enters his third-year in the defensive backfield alongside his brother.

Key recruits or transfers:

  • DL Alain Pae Jr. transfer from Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic) and Prague Lions (Czech League of American Football).
  • DL Nathan O’Keese from St. Ignatius C.S.S. (Thunder Bay, ON).
  • DL NiCarlo Funai transfer from McMaster University.

Key losses: Brendan Beaudry (DB), Sam Randazzo (DL), Tremayne Clarke-Steven (DL)


Key returning players: Lewis Ward (place kicking), Kalem Beaver (returns), Jackson Bennett (returns), Bryce Vieira (returns)

Ward, returning for his fifth-year, continues to be at the forefront of kickers in the nation. Ward was 20-24 on field goals last season and 30-31 on extra points. With a 51-yard field goal against Guelph last year, Ward tied the school record for longest make.

Key recruits or transfers:

  • K Parker White from Ernest Manning High School (Calgary, AB).
  • P Loic Legendre from CEGEP Chicoutimi, originally from Nevers, France.

Key losses: Domenic Bellardini (P)