Neate Sager

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Neate Sager is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports.

  • UBC Thunderbirds coach Blake Nill has been party to a watershed moment in Canadian university football; now he's trying to create another one.

    The university games goes in cycles in terms of which conference monopolizes the Vanier. This is the era of Quebec, as the Montreal Carabins of Danny Maciocia aim to make it back-to-back national titles when they try to stymie phenom quarterback Michael O'Connor and the rather prolific T-Birds passing game on Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT, Sportsnet/Sportsnet 360). 

    It's convenient to flash back to Nill's first Vanier as a head coach,  which was also the Rouge et Or's first and was the last one of the last century. People who were around that week in 1999 before Laval shaded Saint Mary's 14-10 for the first of its now eight championships couldn't help but notice the contrast in resources between the well-bankrolled arriviste from Quebec City and the traditionally powerful Huskies, and in how they practised and prepared.

    The cycles tend to

    Read More »from Vanier Cup preview: Montreal favoured against UBC, but Thunderbirds' time is coming
  • #OnlyInCIS: Aldrich Berrios hits 2 threes in game's final seconds for UBC Okanagan

    Aptly, the hottest hand in Canadian Interuniversity Sport hoops belongs to Aldrich Berrios of the UBC Okanagan Heat.

    Last Saturday, the second-year UBC-O guard hit two coldblooded last-second three-pointers that allowed the Heat to surmount the Mount Royal Cougars for an 87-84 home-floor win in Canada West action.

    Mount Royal missed a chance to seal the win when leading scorer Brett Layton split at the free-throw line after being strategically fouled. Berrios rushed upcourt and sank a tying triple with 0.8 seconds on the clock.

    (GIF credit: YouTube)(GIF credit: YouTube)

    When Mount Royal's Derek Wolf airmailed a lob pass from midcourt out of bounds, that gave the Heat an extra possession. Berrios capitalized, flicking the ball in from half-court for the UBC-O win.

    (GIF credit: YouTube)(GIF credit: YouTube)

    Watch Berrios put his heroics on full display in the video below:

    "The two big shots I hit were just bound to happen whether by me or by someone else on the team," Berrios, a Burnaby, B.C., native who is averaging 17.7 points for the Kelowna-based Heat, told the UBC

    Read More »from #OnlyInCIS: Aldrich Berrios hits 2 threes in game's final seconds for UBC Okanagan
  • Greg Ellingson made The Play, after Jeremiah Masoli and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats made the game.

    The instant-classic CFL East final that the Ottawa Redblacks captured 35-28 at TD Place on Sunday, by the margin of ex-Ticats' Henry Burris and Ellingson's 93-yard catch-and-run collaboration with 1:11 left, might yet mark a watershed for Hamilton. A core group of players only gets so many shots to win a Grey Cup, and the outcome left the Ticats, who have 34 free agents, on outside looking in after back-to-back East titles. The loss also came after depleted Hamilton, with Masoli passing 30-of-42 for 349 yards and getting his Oregon Ducks-style option on for a team-high 44 rushing in his third career start, pulled out all the stops against highly favoured Ottawa. It piles on top of last fall's Grey Cup loss to Calgary, where a potential game-winning punt return TD by speedmeister Brandon Banks was negated by a penalty.

    "All I can think about right now is how determined this band of brothers

    Read More »from Hamilton Tiger-Cats' heartache swells with East final loss: 'Welcome to the game of life'
  • For the CFL's most durable offensive line, getting to run amok was its own reward.

    The scenario that wide receiver Greg Ellingson's 93-yard catch-and-run TD that gave Ottawa the 35-28 win against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats occurred in was a fatalist's delight. In a tied East Division final with fewer than 90 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Ottawa Redblacks were backed up to second-and-25 at their 17-yard line by an unnecessary roughness penalty on left guard J'Micheal Deane. 

    Instead of feeling like they were on the brink, Jon Gott, Deane, right guard Nolan MacMillan and tackles Colin Kelly and SirVincent Rogers mentally blocked out being in a low-percentage situation as effectively as they held off Hamilton's pass rush. That bought time for Henry Burris to find Ellingson for the script-flipping, division-winning score that put Ottawa ahead for good with 1:11 left.

    "I saw those sticks and thought, 'we're pretty far back,' " Gott admitted. "We practise that all the time, situations

    Read More »from To Redblacks O-line, Greg Ellingson's winning TD was like the 'best sunset I ever saw'
  • UBC Thunderbirds, Michael O'Connor flying to Vanier Cup

    Michael O'Connor, whose stated goal is to win multiple Vanier Cups, will help the UBC Thunderbirds play for one against the Montreal Carabins next week.

    Whether the T-Birds, who were seemingly built faster than a Vancouver condo development since Blake Nill came over from Calgary just before last Christmas, can hang in with the Carabins in the Vanier in Ste-Foy, Que., will remain to be seen.

    The narrative was alluring by the time O'Connor was done slinging in the rain in Antigonish, N.S., finishing  21-of-31 for 272 yards with two touchdowns during UBC's 36-8 Uteck Bowl victory against the host St. Francis Xavier X-Men. The Vanier will put a talented still-teenaged transfer — with two fellow frosh from Ontario, Trivel Pinto and Alex Morrison, as O'Connor's favorite receivers — leading a West Coast legacy program deep into Quebec against mighty Montreal, the defending champ with a devastating defensive line led by Junior Luke. Both the 'Birds and Les Bleus have already won at

    Read More »from UBC Thunderbirds, Michael O'Connor flying to Vanier Cup
  • Montreal Carabins maul Guelph Gryphons in Mitchell Bowl, return to Vanier Cup

    The buses that brought the Carabins' caravan to Guelph could have motored through some of the holes Montreal's offensive line opened in the Mitchell Bowl.

    Lines win championships, especially once football is at the mercy of fall weather. The major takeaway from the defending Vanier Cup champion Montreal Carabins' 25-10 Mitchell Bowl mauling of the Guelph Gryphons was the physical separation between Les Bleus from La Belle Province and the Ontario University Athletics champ, whose 20-win streak at Alumni Stadium was snapped. Carabins coach Danny Maciocia's heavies — from tackle to tackle, Gustave Sylvestre, Rémi Giguère, Jean-Christophe Labrecque, Jason Raymond and Marc Glaude — cleared the way for 246 rushing yards, including 170 and a touchdown by halfback Sean Thomas Erlington.

    On the other side of the ball, the force unit, spearheaded by the likes of nosetackle Junior Luke, defensive end Mathieu Dupuis and linebacker Maïko Zepeda, kept the Gryphons from testing a young Montreal

    Read More »from Montreal Carabins maul Guelph Gryphons in Mitchell Bowl, return to Vanier Cup
  • Shawn Lemon, Keith Shologan & Redblacks D-line ready for Masoli's fleet feet

    Shawn Lemon is more about putting down roots than getting his hand down in a three-point stance.

    Reunited with Rick Campbell, who was his defensive coordinator in Calgary before becoming Ottawa's head coach, the rush end believes he is peaking at an opportune time ahead of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats-Redblacks East final on Sunday. Lemon had an easing-in period after signing in Ottawa following NFL trials as a linebacker with Pittsburgh and San Francisco, but contributed to the Redblacks' 7-2 finish with five sacks in a half-season.

    "It's more of a family atmosphere and these guys mesh well together," Lemon said after Thursday's practice at TD Place, where Ottawa will have a sellout crowd of 25,000-plus. "We spend a lot  of time together outside of football.

    "I know what coach Campbell is about and I know his coaching philosophy from our time in Calgary," added Lemon, who had 13 sacks for the Grey Cup-winning 2014 Stampeders. "That's one thing he wanted to implement here, and it has been

    Read More »from Shawn Lemon, Keith Shologan & Redblacks D-line ready for Masoli's fleet feet
  • MJHL player Braden Pettinger paralyzed; hockey community rallies quickly

    One can only imagine that Braden Pettinger and his support network are hoping for the best and bracing for the unimaginable, after the Junior A defenceman was paralyzed last week during his first game with the Portage Terriers.

    Hockey people invariably support their own when someone suffers a life-altering injury. There should be no glossing over what is ahead for Pettinger, a 20-year-old from Elgin, Man., in the southwest part of the province. Yet it is astonishing how quickly people from many walks of life who love junior hockey have pitched in to support his care and rehabilitation. A GoFundMe support page set up by the Manitoba Junior Hockey League has already raised nearly $45,000 in just more than one day, although there is no way to put a dollar value on the cost of adjusting to living without the use of one's legs. For instance, the parents of Neil Doef, the Smith Falls Bears player who was paralyzed last fall, had to move to a new home that could better accommodate wheelchair

    Read More »from MJHL player Braden Pettinger paralyzed; hockey community rallies quickly
  • CIS working on 'business case' for expanding Vanier Cup field

    The hint, allegation, and thing left unsaid amid Upset Saturday is that the top two teams in the country  —  Monreal and Laval  — might have already played.

    For those wondering, only once in Canadian Interuniversity Sport football annals have road teams swept the four conference finals. Prior to the road-warrior efforts by the Guelph Gryphons, Montreal Carabins, UBC Thunderbirds and St. Francis Xavier X-Men, it had only happened once, in 1984. That was a decade before any French-language university got in on the fun.

    Football is the only team sport in CIS where a team has to win its conference in order to contend for the national championship, which accentuates the newfound hope in Antigonish, N.S., or a fresh hell for the Western Mustangs. The Vanier Cup playoff format assumes regional balance, though. The CIS doesn't have that in football. Ontario University Athletics accounts for 11 of the country's 27 teams, or 40 per cent. Many do expect St. FX, with the intangibles of a home

    Read More »from CIS working on 'business case' for expanding Vanier Cup field
  • It's nigh on impossible not get some chill bumps after seeing what happened during the North Bay Battalion's belated Remembrance Day game on Sunday.

    At the end of the pregame ceremonies in the city with a proud military history, on a day where emotions were no doubt a little high in the wake of Friday's attacks in Paris, 90-year-old Second World War and Korean War veteran Lionel Murphy stepped up with a stirring interpretation of O Canada. Those who were present at the North Bay Memorial Gardens said many in the crowd of 3,393 were visibly touched by Murphy's performance.

    Murphy, who served in the Royal Canadian Navy during WWII and in the Army during the Korean War, is the exemplar of making every day count. The great-grandfather had a heart attack while shooting pool less than two years ago. A quick response from other pool players and the fact the building had a newly installed automatic external defibrillator helped him survive.

    “I remember I was shooting pool, I took a step back

    Read More »from Second World War veteran, 90, sings O Canada at North Bay Battalion OHL game


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