The Dinos football team continued to reap the rewards of an undefeated season on Thursday, Nov. 7, as four Dinos players and head coach Blake Nill were honoured with Canada West awards.
Leading the way for the Dinos, as he has all season, was second-year running back Mercer Timmis, who won the Frank Gnup Memorial Trophy for the conference’s Most Valuable Player. Timmis was absolutely dominant for the Dinos this year, racking up more rushing yards than any player in the country with 1,157, and also setting a new Canada West touchdown record as he found the endzone 19 times in 2013.
“It was something that was a goal of mine coming into the season, but obviously wasn’t really too focused on it,” said Timmis. “It just came with our team’s success. We were 8–0 and I think with team success comes individual success, and that’s why we have so many award winners today.”
Timmis was quick to credit Nill for his work with the team.
“After how many players we lost last year, all of this is just a credit to coach Nill,” said Timmis. “He recruited all of us here. He coaches all of us everyday. He puts so much time and effort into this program and this is just a result of the things he does.”
After losing half of 2012’s roster to graduation and professional leagues, most people expected 2013 to be a rebuilding year for the Dinos. Nill’s expectations were no different.
“Initially, just coming out of camp, my goal was to just make the playoffs,” said Nill, who was awarded Canada West Coach of the Year for his efforts. “It’s something that I’m at a loss of words to explain in regards to the 8–0 record, but it happened.”
Dinos linebacker Doctor Cassama was named the Canada West Defensive Player of the Year, following in the footsteps of former Dinos and current Canadian Football Leaguers Sam Hurl and Mike Edem. Cassama, who was surprised to be honoured with the award, said he could have never imagined winning Defensive Player of the Year a mere 10 weeks ago at the start of the season.
“I wouldn’t have believed you, because I know football is a game of ‘one game at a time’ and staying healthy,” said Cassama, who averaged 4.5 tackles per game. “So I wouldn’t believe you. I would have said I just want to win this season and finish really nicely.”
Picking up the Rookie of the Year award was receiver Rashuan Simonise. The 6’5” first-year from Vancouver was tied for first on the team with 33 receptions, and was very satisfied with how he adapted to Canadian Interuniversity Sport play.
“I was playing high school [last year],” said Simonise, who praised fellow receivers Chris Dobko and Jake Harty for their leadership this year. “The main adjustment was the speed and size of everyone. I had to get used to hits and stuff. It wasn’t too hard. All the veterans helped me fit in really quick, so it was nice.”
Rounding out the awards for the Dinos was quarterback Andrew Buckley, who won the Student Athlete Award. The third-year kinesiology major was impressive after being thrust into the starting role this year, but perhaps even more impressive is his 3.93 career GPA.
“I’m hugely honoured because I put a lot of time and effort in to the past couple of years, focusing academically but also on the community,” said Buckley. “I’m hugely honoured to be even nominated for this award.”
The only non-Dino to capture a major award was University of British Columbia defensive lineman Donovan Dale, who was named the conference’s top lineman.