Written by Griffin Porter
Photo by Valerie Wutti
OTTAWA, Ontario – It wasn’t an awards dinner that any of the Carleton Ravens Football family had ever experienced before, but the annual celebration of Carleton’s best and brightest still went off without a hitch and contained some great moments as the Ravens looked back on the 2019 season.
The ceremony featured speeches from Ravens football stars young and old, as well as a moment to honour Carleton football alumni Al Abelson, and of course plenty of awards. The quality of the 2019 Carleton team became apparent yet again as the nominees for the various awards were listed, as many of them were hotly contested between all three candidates. The Rookie of the Year was awarded to Patrick Lavoie, who started every game of the season for the Ravens on the offensive line, a rare achievement for a rookie at any position. Tevin Bowen took home the Joe MacDonald Award for Lineman of the Year, as head coach Steve Sumarah praised Bowen’s influence not only on the game, but also in the locker room as a leader among his teammates. Bowen fittingly gave the Graduating Address, speaking to his personal journey overcoming adversity in his years at Carleton, reminding all in (virtual) attendance of the importance of perseverance while also having a system of people in place to support you, which Bowen named as his coaches and teammates.
The Coaches Award went to fullback Mitch Raper while the John Ruddy Award, which is chosen by the Old Crows alumni society for a combination of athletic and academic achievement went to linebacker Trevor Hoyte. In the positional awards, Matthieu Pickens was named Special Teams Player of the Year after leading the team in special teams tackles, while wide receiver Phil Iloki took home Offensive Player of the Year honours, an award which recognized not only a fantastic season, but one of the best careers in the history of the program.
The biggest winner on the night was linebacker Jack Cassar, who was named both Defensive Player of the Year and Team MVP following a phenomenal season that saw him rack up both provincial and national honours, as well as become a 2nd round pick of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. Cassar was also one of the graduating athletes honoured by Coach Sumarah, alongside Iloki and Bowen as well as Jesse Lawson, Jesse St. John, D’Sean Thelwell, Quinton Soares, Chad Manchulenko, and Josh Walsh. The ceremonies concluded with a preview of the Carleton recruiting class of 2021, which Sumarah previewed as a “recruiting class that is coming in extremely strong… it adds to the foundation for us moving forward”. It was an encouraging end to a night in which the Carleton community said goodbye to a very strong graduating class, and served as a reminder that despite the great players moving on from the program, the best is still yet to come.