Quartet of Dinos wins major conference football awards

CALGARY – After a record-breaking regular season, Adam Sinagra has been honoured as the 2018 Canada West football player of the year.

 Sinagra’s winning of the Frank Gnup Memorial Trophy – the 15th time a Dino has been presented the award – headlines four of the conference’s major awards headed to the University of Calgary: fifth-year defensive end Joel Van Pelt is the top lineman in Canada West, while freshman receiver Tyson Philpot is the rookie of the year. And for the third time in his four seasons at the helm, Wayne Harris is the Canada West coach of the year. 

The Dinos (9-0) host the Saskatchewan Huskies (6-3) in the 82nd Hardy Cup Saturday at McMahon Stadium, looking for their third straight conference title. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Other Canada West award winners announced Thursday include UBC linebacker Ben Hladik as the defensive player of the year, Manitoba’s Jayden McKoy with the student-athlete community service award, and Regina offensive line coach Sheldon Neald as the volunteer coach of the year.


After learning from CFL greats Dave Dickenson and Bo Levi Mitchell during his time in Calgary Stampeders camp this spring, Adam Sinagra proceeded to have one of the best seasons in Canada West football history.

 His 3,233 passing yards set a new conference and U Sports record, as he led the Dinos to a perfect 8-0 season, and the most potent offence in the nation, averaging 570.9 yards per game.

Sinagra topped Canada West in passing touchdowns this season with 23, and led the conference with a passer rating of 126.

After learning from the likes of former Hec Crighton winning quarterbacks Erik Glavic (2007) and Andrew Buckley (2014 and 2015) – who are now coaching with the Dinos –Sinagra is looking to join his mentors as a Hec Crighton winner. Should he claim the award, it will mark the fifth consecutive season a CW player has taken home Canadian university’s biggest individual prize.

 “Adam’s confidence level and his leadership have really emerged this season,” said Harris. “It’s something we didn’t see a lot of in his first two years where he was more of a quiet leader. Now, he says the right things at the right time and shares the information with his receivers and line. He learned what it’s like to prepare as a professional – the way he watches film, makes notes in meetings on our systems and our opponents has significantly changed. Canada West has its share of fast guys, but it’s nothing like the speed of the CFL and that experience really slowed things down for him and has helped with those reads and adjustments. Everything he has learned has helped him be a better quarterback.” 


Selected 62nd overall in the 2018 CFL Draft, defensive lineman Joel Van Pelt returned from Hamilton Tiger-Cats training camp over the summer prepared to have a dominant senior season.

The Lethbridge, Alta., product racked up nine tackles for loss in 2018, with six of those being sacks. Van Pelt played a key role for the Dinos defence, which finished first in the conference in terms of yards allowed, averaging 388 per game.

 The fifth-year science student emerged from a crowded group of candidates to be the conference nominee for the J.P. Metras Award, which honours the nation’s top lineman. He’s the first Dino to win the nomination since Paul Swiston in 2010, and he’s looking to become the first Dino to win the Metras since Garret Everson claimed it back in 1988.

 “It has been a great year for Joel in every capacity,” said Harris. “You’re never quite sure how a player will adjust coming back from a pro camp, but Joel came back and embraced a leadership role. His physical presence and development have come into their own after five years in the weight room, and we’ve seen how it has impacted his play. His understanding of the game and the level of maturity he has developed have positively influenced his success.” 


A major aerial weapon this season in the Stampede City, Dinos receiver Tyson Philpot is the Canada West Rookie of the Year.

Philpot finished fourth in conference receiving yards with 741, and was a major deep threat for the Dinos. The Delta, B.C. product had an average target depth of 17.6 yards in 2018, and hauled in eight receptions of 30 yards or more.

Philpot posted plenty of explosive plays this season, including Week 2 when he burst on to the scene with a 107-yard touchdown reception against UBC – the longest catch in Dinos history.

Highly-touted as a recruit after being the 2017 BC high school player of the year, Philpot was the lone rookie named to the conference’s all-star team last week.

“Tyson has been a great addition to our program,” said Harris. “He has a great attitude and work ethic, and his skill set far exceeds the average freshman. He has been able to learn our systems quickly, and has dedicated himself to being successful. He has made big catches, in big games, at big moments. He continues to work hard in practice and doesn’t take anything for granted. He has been a great addition and a great teammate for everyone in the room.”


Rounding out Calgary’s award winners is head coach Wayne Harris, who is the conference’s Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

The fourth-year head coach has been nearly unbeatable at the helm of Calgary, leading the Dinos to a 29-3 regular-season record and a 7-3 playoff mark since taking over the program in 2015.

This marks the third conference award for Harris, who was also named CW coach of the year back in 2015, when he went on to win the Frank Tindall Award as U SPORTS’ top coach.

 Harris is now tied with Peter Connellan (1977, 1985, 1995) and Blake Nill (2009, 2012, 2013) for the most CW coach of the year honours in Calgary program history.

“Wayne and the talented group of assistant coaches he has assembled around him continue to set the standard for coaching staffs in university football in Canada, and Wayne would be the first to say this is a team award,” said Dinos Athletic Director Jason Kerswill. “Year in and year out they recruit outstanding student-athletes to the University of Calgary, and the development opportunities they provide are second to none. We are proud to have Coach Harris leading our football program.”


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