If the UBC Thunderbirds football team is going to be eliminated from Canada West playoff semifinal action, it’s going to be by kicking and clawing.
The kicking part will be handled by Quinn van Gylswyk, in his third and final season of CIS eligibility after a solid junior career with the Westshore Rebels in which he was twice a Canadian Junior Football League all-star in 2010 and 2011.
The T-Birds will play host to the Manitoba Bisons today at noon (on Global TV). The game will feature plenty of Vancouver Island flavour as both the UBC and Manitoba roster are lined with athletes with Island ties.
Van Gylswyk and Co. defeated the Bisons 24-10 last weekend in the final regular-season game, earning the right to host the Canada West semifinal.
“Honestly, if you would have asked me at the start of the year if this would have happened [hosting a playoff game] I probably would have laughed,” said the 24-year-old van Gylswyk, who has had a remarkable final university campaign and was named Canada West all-star punter on Thursday.
“We’re playing with basically two-thirds of a team, about 59 guys compared to teams with 90
“It has been a very good year for me,” added the Canadian Football League draft eligible punter/place-kicker, who could be chosen in May. “I’m pretty excited about that. That is the big goal.”
He has already had some discussion with CFL teams and it’s not hard to see why. After the regular season, the Spectrum grad was No. 1 in the country in punting and No. 2 in field-goal percentage.
“I have a new kicking coach this year who has helped me out so much and knowing that the coaches trust me is huge. They’ve let me kick longer field goals,” said van Gylswyk, crediting coach Josh Collins with his improvement. “He’s brought my field-goal percentage up from 60 to like 83. I’ve made almost twice as many as I did last year, which is huge.”
Van Gylswyk — who has always had a lively leg — led the nation in punting with a 43.6-yard average, with his longest being 75 yards. In comparison, his opponents have averaged 37.6 yards per punt.
He was good on 20 of 24 field goals for the 83 per cent mark and hit all 29 of his point-after attempts. His longest field goal was 47 yards and most of his misses came early in the season. He also averaged 53 yards on his 39 kickoffs.
Van Gylswyk is joined on the T-Birds’ roster by brothers Terrell and Marcus Davis (of Mount Douglas) who star at the linebacker and running/receiver/returner positions, respectively. Terrell was No. 3 in the country in tackles as he more than successfully made the switch to defence.
Belmont’s Tristen Fourish (OL) and Edgar Nelson (TE) are also on the club, along with LB Dylan Chapdelaine, R Marshall Cook and OL Nick Cessford, who all have ties to the Nanaimo-Parksville area, either in high school or junior.
Manitoba features Mt. Doug products, DBs Tyler Fong, Zack Sandelescu, and Julian Luis and OL Christian Krause and Easton Gerard, R Dustin Pederson (Nanaimo) and LB Colton Farago, who is a former Rebel, along with Fong and Sandelescu.
Kicker Ryan Jones is also a former Vancouver Island Raider.