Niagara Falls’ Tre Ford first Black quarterback to win Hec Crighton Trophy

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Published December 2, 2021 at 10:30 pm

Niagara Falls native Tre Ford has become the first Black quarterback and first Waterloo Warriors player to be named the top performer in Canadian university football. (U SPORTS/University of Waterloo photo)

Tre Ford made Canadian football history on Thursday, becoming the first Black quarterback to be chosen as the nation’s top university player.

The Niagara Falls native’s landmark feat comes as Ontario University Athletics is embarking on improving the education, recruitment, supports and accountability to Black, biracial and Indigenous student-athletes. Just weeks ago, OUA released a report acknowleding that racialized sportspeople are underrepresented as student-athletes and in the coaching ranks.

Ford has also lifted Waterloo out of the doldrums. Waterloo, which set back for several recruiting cycles after a doping scandal in 2010, went winless the season before Ford arrived. They finished at .500 and contended for the playoffs all four seasons he was behind centre, with Ford producing highlight-reel plays on the regular.

“Winning the Hec Crighton award as national player of the year cements Tre’s legacy in Warriors football history as arguably the greatest of all-time,” Waterloo head coach Chris Bertoia said in a statement. “Tre is a trailblazer. With this award he is the first Waterloo Warrior to ever win it, and he is the first Black quarterback to ever win it.

“I’m so proud of his perseverance and determination. It’s been an honour to have the opportunity to coach Tre. He is a tremendous person, quarterback, and teammate. He can and will be successful in whatever he puts his mind to. Our team, coaching staff, and football alumni can’t wait to see what is next for Tre.”

This fall, Ford led  with 244.2 passing yards per game, and was fourth in Canada in rushing with 629 yards in six  games. Ford led the country with 10.7 yards per rush.

A graduate of A.N. Myer, who is taking recreation and leisure at Waterloo, Ford was ranked ninth in the most recent Canadian Football League (CFL) Scouting Bureau’s prospect list. He was previously honoured as the 2017 U SPORTS rookie of the year.

Ford was also named a first-team all-Canadian earlier on Thursday. His twin brother, Waterloo cornerback Tyrell Ford, was named to the second team.

The other three Hec Crighton finalists were Calgary wide receiver Tyson Philpot, Concordia quarterback Olivier Roy and St. Francis Xavier QB Silas Fagnan.

Ajax defensive end, Burlington O-line coach earn national honours

Western Mustangs defensive end Deionte Knight, who hails from Ajax, was recognized with the J.P. Metras Trophy as the top lineman in the nation.

Knight struggled with injuries for two seasons prior to the cancellation of the 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Healthy at last this fall, the six-foot-four, 275-pound Knight led the nation with 7½ quarterback sacks. The 22-year-old Knight also helped Western post the first shutout in the Yates Cup in 50 years when the Mustangs defeated Queen’s 29-0 on Nov. 20.

Western faces the Saskatchewan Huskies in the Vanier Cup on Saturday (Dec. 4, 1 p.m., CBC, CBC Gem, cbcsports.ca).

As well, Guelph Gryphons offensive line coach Michael MacDonald earned the Gino Fracas Award winner as the nation’s volunteer coach of the year.

MacDonald, whio hails from Burlington and is a retired member of the RCMP, is in his 11th season with the Gryphons. Over his time at Guelph, he has coached nine offensive linemen who have reached the Canadian Football League.

MacDonald previously volunteered as a coach for Notre Dame Secondary School and was also the head coach of the Burlington Stampeders rep program for 17 seasons.

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