Canada West announced its football major individual award winners on Thursday, with three members of the University of Regina Rams earning unanimous honours for their parts in the team’s first-place finish in the Canada West standings.
Third-year quarterback Noah Picton is the recipient of the Frank Gnup Memorial Award as the conference’s outstanding player, while first-year defensive lineman Nicholas Dheilly was named the Canada West Rookie of the Year and first-year head coach Steve Bryce was an easy choice as the Canada West Coach of the Year.
Picton set a new U Sports single-season record with 3186 passing yards this year and also led the nation in both completion rate (69.3%) and touchdown passes (25). His 224 pass completions this year are second in U Sports history, and he also set a school record for completion percentage while leading Canada West in every passing category.
“Noah is just an outstanding leader. He has a voracious appetite for studying offence and attacking opposing defences. He has a very high football IQ and extremely high expectations for himself and his teammates. I don’t think there’s a player in the country who watches more game film,” Bryce said.
After spending the first three weeks of the season in a backup role, Dheilly got his first start as a Ram in Week 4 and had three sacks in the team’s pivotal 32-27 home win over Calgary. He finished in a tie for second in Canada West with four sacks on the season, just a half sack behind the leader. Dheilly piled up 23½ tackles (17 solo, 13 assisted) including 7½ tackles for loss and also had a pass knockdown and an interception during the eight-game conference schedule.
“Nicholas has an incredibly fast motor and is a very athletic lineman. He’s tenacious on the field and his well-rounded athleticism makes him a great player on special teams as well. At only 18 years old, Nicholas has an incredible future ahead of him,” Bryce said.
Bryce wasn’t hired as the program’s third head coach in its university history until March, but was able to come in and immediately make a positive impact. Taking over a team that was 0-8 last year but with a solid core of returning players, Bryce’s guidance helped the Rams to a first-place finish in the Canada West standings for the first time in program history. The team reached as high as No. 4 in the U Sports rankings and hosted a home playoff game for the first time since the 2012 campaign.
“Coach Bryce has had a tremendous impact in his short time at the University of Regina and I’m elated that he’s received this well-deserved honour,” said Tanya Reynoldson, interim athletic director at the U of R. “While this award recognizes the on-field accomplishments with the Rams this season, he’s also been a fine leader of the program off the field and constantly stresses the importance of academics and community involvement with the players. We are excited to see what the Rams can do in the coming years under the guidance of Coach Bryce.”
Canada West Outstanding Player – QB Noah Picton, Regina
Canada West Rookie of the Year – DL Nicholas Dheilly, Regina
Canada West Coach of the Year – Steve Bryce, Regina
Canada West Outstanding Down Lineman – OL Geoff Gray, Manitoba
Canada West Outstanding Defensive Player – LB D.J. Lalama, Manitoba
Canada West Student-Athlete Community Service Award – DB Cam Teschuk, Manitoba
Canada West Assistant Coach of the Year – Marcello Rapini, Calgary