Merchant MVP, Odoom Top Rookie, Marshall Top Coach

From the OUA, by David DiCenzo:

Merchant caps off Mustangs football career with MVP campaign under centre for Western

Photo: Western Mustangs

Chris Merchant has been one of the premier players in Ontario University Athletics the past few seasons. And the talented fifth-year quarterback from Calgary, Alta. is capping his distinguished career at Western University with yet another accolade. Merchant has been named OUA Most Valuable Player, headlining the conference’s 2019 football major award winners.

Merchant was a constant presence throughout Western’s undefeated regular season, the third consecutive year the Mustangs have accomplished that feat. The Kinesiology major is the very definition of a dual threat with his ability to beat defences both through the air or with his legs. Merchant followed up an impressive 2018 by completing 159 of 232 pass attempts this season (68.5 %) for 2,378 yards and 14 touchdowns. But Merchant was just as dangerous when he called his own number, rushing the ball a career-high 77 times for another 438 yards and six majors.

The Mustangs’ leader hit his stride in his team’s 40-23 win over Queen’s in week 2. Merchant’s arsenal was on full display as he passed for a season-high 355 yards with two touchdowns, while adding another score on the ground. He would close the season with a dominant stretch of play, racking up over 1,000 passing yards and nine total touchdowns in the final three wins of the regular season over Windsor, Waterloo, and Ottawa, respectively. Merchant would finish the year topping all OUA quarterbacks in pass efficiency at 167.7

Statistics aside, one of the most impressive aspects of Merchant’s season was an ability to guide an offence that featured several young players on the offensive line, as well as a changing of the guard in the backfield. The poise and veteran leadership he had amassed in Western’s long postseason runs in recent years were imperative to the team manufacturing yet another undefeated campaign.

Merchant can now add OUA MVP to a list of accomplishments that includes second team OUA all-star status in 2018, the Dalt White Trophy as Yates Cup MVP, and Mitchell Bowl MVP (both in 2018), and winning the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy (2017).

Norm Marshall Award (Rookie of the Year) – Kojo Odoom, Western Mustangs

Photo: Western Mustangs

It can be a difficult transition for young football players moving up to the OUA level, but Kojo Odoom didn’t take long to show he belonged among the best in the country. The first-year defensive back from Surrey, B.C. came to the defending Yates Cup champion Mustangs from the Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School program with an all-around game that showcased hard hits, strong coverage ability, and tremendous ball skills. And Odoom introduced himself to the OUA by producing an exceptional first season in which he registered 15 solo tackles and 10 assisted tackles. The DB also led all Western defensive players with four pass breakups.

Odoom was the MVP on his high school team last season and the opportunity to play in big games was one of the main reasons he chose to attend Western. The coveted recruit established himself as a player that embraces the big stage and looks to be a piece that the Mustang defence can build around for years to come.

David “Tuffy” Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall, Western Mustangs

Photo: Western Mustangs

Longevity is one of the true marks of greatness. Greg Marshall, the man at the helm of the current Western Mustangs dynasty, has been leading teams to championships for several years and after a third consecutive undefeated season in London, the Canadian university football legend earned his seventh OUA Coach of the Year award.

The Guelph, Ont. native and former Mustang player won his first two back in 1999 and 2000 when he patrolled the sidelines for the McMaster Marauders. And since 2010, Marshall has taken home the award more five times, eclipsing former Western head coach Larry Haylor’s previous total of six.

Marshall hasn’t allowed complacency to set in to a team that has stood out among all programs in U SPORTS the past three years. After completing the ultimate double in winning the Yates Cup and the Vanier Cup in 2017, the Mustangs took the OUA banner again in 2018 before finishing the season with another Vanier appearance. Marshall’s team has not missed a beat in 2019. Western kicked the season off with a 32-19 win on the road at Laurier before running the table on the OUA schedule, capped by a 32-22 home win over Ottawa. The always-potent offensive team was dominant once again, leading the conference with 36.3 points per game and finishing third with 468.1 yards per contest. Marshall’s offence can trouble opponents in a variety of ways, evidenced by an OUA-best 9.8 passing yards per attempt, and league-highs in both first downs (223), rushing first downs (99), and third-down conversions (23 of 32 for 72%).

Now in his 13th season in charge of the Mustangs, Marshall has guided the team to six Yates Cup victories.
The complete list of 2019 football major award winners is as follows:

Most Valuable Player – Chris Merchant, Western

Outstanding Stand-Up Defensive Player – Jack Cassar, Carleton

Lineman of the Year – Cameron Lawson, Queen’s

Norm Marshall Award (Rookie of the Year) – Kojo Odoom, Western

David “Tuffy” Knight Award (Coach of the Year) – Greg Marshall, Western

Russ Jackson Award Nominee – Jacob Janke, York

Volunteer Coach of the Year – Joe Sardo, Guelph

Ken Green Officials Award of Merit – Kevin Baird

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