Lions and Bengals host player appreciation and awards night
The St. Paul Lions and Bengals held their annual Player Appreciation and Awards Night last Tuesday, celebrating the individual achievements of local athletes in a variety of categories.
Highlighting the awards were the Wheatland Football League Awards, as Brenden McKay, Dave Thomson, Brady Coutts, Dylon Machura and Taylor Joly were all named to the league’s all-star team, while McKay was bestowed with the title of the WFL’s most valuable offensive player.
“It feels amazing,” said McKay, who was also named the Lions most valuable player. “Words can’t describe how good it feels to win that award.”
Lions coach Todd Tanasichuk couldn’t say enough about the work ethic of McKay, adding that he won the award despite playing through a handful of injuries throughout the season.
“I’m happy for Brenden, he’s exceedingly deserving and he’s actually a pretty humble kid in many ways. He played through a lot of injuries, too,” said Tanasichuk. “There were times when he couldn’t play up to his potential and we had to limit the things that he could do, so it’s a real testament to him to be able to win it despite not being able to show all of his talent all the time.”
Before the awards were handed out to players, captains from the Lions and Bengals took to the podium to share a few words about their coaches.
“To play in this league with these guys, everybody on our team, with our coaches, it was like being part of a brotherhood,” said Lions captain Dylon Machura, extending a thank you to both the coaches of the Lions and the Bengals. “We could not have done this without the help of some very important people, of course that being our coaches. Without the coaches, none of this would have been possible.”
McKay added that Tanaischuk and John Lumby are “the best coaches anyone could ask for,” and that they truly helped him develop into an all-star football player.
“They’ve been there during football season, outside of football season, they’ve just had my back no matter what,” he said. “I think they’re a big reason why I won that award, they helped me throughout everything.”
The graduating players from both teams were also honoured. While some will part ways with football, many others will look to continue their playing careers, either as a Lion in the case of the graduating Bengals, or at the next level, as is the case with players like McKay.
“I’ll probably go play in the city for the Edmonton Huskies with Zac (Smith) and Jason (Jubinville), if I can make the team,” said McKay. “Or if I have good enough marks, maybe go to university and play some football there.”
Highlighting the Bengals award winners was Bradley Dubrule, who was named the team’s most valuable player and won the leadership award. Bengals coach Seth Henderson said that Dubrule is an all-around leader, which made him an easy choice for MVP.
“He’s a defender of our program, that’s what makes him a leader. He stands up in school, he stands up outside of school, if people challenge what we do as a football program, he’s a defender of it. He’s not only willing to stand up on the field, but off the field he’s standing up for our program, defending us as coaches, defending us as an organization, defending his other players and teammates. That is what makes a true leader,” said Henderson, who stepped down as coach of the Bengals at the end of the season. “He’s an amazing kid. Wherever I go coaching, he’ll be one of the kids that will always stick with me, and it will be my goal to make every kid like a Bradley Dubrule.”
Dubrule added that he is already looking forward to continuing his playing career as a member of the St. Paul Lions.
“I think a lot of us are looking to join the Lions and ride their successes and try and be that, maybe three-peat team, or maybe win with the Lions again, and make sure the Lions stay that team to be afraid of in the league,” he said.
Henderson added that he believes the strength of St. Paul’s football program lies in its ability to cultivate young talent.
“That’s the most important thing. We need to continue this trend where we’re a dominant team for a few years every decade. That’s the cycle, you can’t win every year, you sure hope to, but you just keep ensuring that the kids come out to play, learn the skills and develop into championship teams at the Lion level,” he said. “That’s where I get my most satisfaction, is watching the kids win it not just at the bantam level, but at the high school level as well.”
WFL Award Winners:
Most Valuable Offensive Player: Brenden McKay
All-Star Team members: Brenden McKay, Taylor Joly, Brady Coutts, Dylon Machura, Dave Thomson
Lions Award Winners
Most Valuable Player: Brenden McKay
Most Valuable Offensive Lineman: Brady Coutts
Most Valuable Defensive Lineman: Adam Joly, Clinton Labine
Most Valuable Offensive Back: Taylor Joly
Most Valuable Linebacker: Dave Thomson
Most Valuable Receiver: Darrell Stranger
Most Valuable Defensive Back: Lance Ouellette
Most Contribution / Least Recognition: Dakota Boucher, Trent Johnson
Leadership Award: Dylon Machura
Iron Man Award: Dylon Machura
Rookie of the Year: Patrick Dion, Reuben Johnson
Most Improved: Corey Wozniak
Most Heart: Dave Thomson
Bengals Award Winners
Most Valuable Player: Bradley Dubrule
Most Improved: Noah Villard
Grade 6/7 of the Year: Ben Fodchuk, Sheldon Scrannage
Grade 8 of the Year: Parker Lumby
Most Valuable Offensive Lineman: Zach Sager
Most Valuable Defensive Lineman: Justin Fodchuk, Spencer Graling
Most Valuable Skilled Player: Madison Brousseau
Most Valuable Defensive Back: Cole Murray
Most Valuable Linebacker: Sam Tillapaugh
Leadership Award: Bradley Dubrule
Heart Award: Chris Bortaynec