Alex Porras: “Update from the Q” (1st edition)

The growth of amateur football in La Belle Province has been impressive over the last 20 years. With standout programs at all age levels, Quebec’s football teams are featured in many All-Canadian rankings.

Before they join such prestigious organizations such as the Laval University Rouge et Or or the Montreal University Carabins, young football players hone their skills and perfect their understanding of a beautiful and complex game at the CEGEP level. With three divisions and 26 teams (including newcomers St-Hyacinthe and Shawinigan) la ligue de football collégial is the powerful stream that keeps CIS afloat in Québec.

Every week from now until the Bol d’Or champions are crowned, I’ll be compiling commenting on CEGEP teams.  Today I am going to give you my Power Rankings in Division 1.

Without further ado, here are the best of the best in the Q.

1. Vanier Cheetahs (4-0): 114 PF / 64 PA / +50 PD

Favorites to win it all in 2013, the Cheetahs were hampered by a plague of injuries which even the presence of top quarterback Hugo Richard (now with Laval University) could not compensate. While their still somewhat hurting (veteran OL Mathieu Boucher-Paiment recently broke his leg and all-star safety François Hamel is recovering from a concussion) or because of league suspensions (WR Jamie Harry), the Cheetahs still aren’t where they’d like to be (team Canada’s Wade Cyr and sophomore Benedicte Cayo are also MIA). However, with fewer than 10 of last season’s starters back on the field last Saturday, the cats managed to win their 4th straight against the progressively stout Lévis-Lauzon Faucons. With a slew of rookies now asked to take on a larger role, who knows how 2014 will end for the Cheetahs. However, up to this point, they’ve proven to be especially resilient.

Strength: Hands down, the best linebacker trio in the league with the Harelimana brothers Kean and Brian and the hulking Marc-Antoine Varin.

Weakness: A general lack of depth on offense shows a stark contrast with recent years’s juggernauts. After season’s of 332 and 331 points scored, the Cheetahs are on pace for a more earthly 285 this season which would be their second lowest total in the last 6 years.

Player to Watch: Jordan Perrin DB – 17 Tk, 3 Int, 2 Tk for loss and 1 PD

After two seasons of part-time defensive duties, Jordan is poised for a long-awaited breakout. A speed demon known for his prowess as a returner, his defensive game is now the focus of our attention.

 

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– Photo credit: Florence Pin

2. Vieux Montréal Spartiates (3-1): 106 PF / 74 PA / +32 PD

Going all-in with their prized QB prospect Frédéric Paquette-Perreault was the right thing to do for the Spartiates. After a record-breaking offensive season that ended in a heart-crushing defeat in last year’s final, the time has come for “The Next One” to show his mettle. To prosper, he’ll obviously need some help from the big men in front of him. Sadly, the offensive line’s leader and Team Canada alumnus CFC100 Frédérik-Xavier Duhamel has been sidelined for the last two games due to a concussion. Veteran Étienne Castonguay-Laplante is also mising in action. Nevertheless, the Spartiates can still rely on some of the best offensive players in the country in CFC100 Louis-Mathieu Normandin (WR) and CFC100 Mike-Brian Lusikila (RB) to carry the load. While their front seven boasts several new faces, their secondary is rich with talent and experience.

Strenght: While they strive to maintain a fairly balanced offensive output, Vieux Montréal could run all day with their two running backs, Lusikila and Édouard Montemiglio. Once the OL get a little bit more comfortable and start manufacturing more openings, the offensive yards will pile up rapidly.

Weakness: With no starters returning from 2013, the linebacker corps is still in flux. Rookies Enock Makonzo and Umar Temoor, while tremendously talented, are still learning the ropes at the CEGEP level and sophomore Zachary Guénette is seeing his first big minutes since he joined the team. However, this weakness might soon become one of the team’s strengths. All thats missing, is a little more hands on experience.

Player to Watch: CFC100 Frédéric Paquette-Perreault QB – 70 Cmp in 126 Att, 932 Yds, 7 TD and 6 Int

With interceptions thrown in 3 of his 4 games this year, Paquette-Perreault is still honing his craft. His completion percentage is very decent and his potential remains of the charts. The day he figures how to protect the ball more efficiently, he’ll enter elite territory.

 

3. CNDF Notre-Dame (3-1): 114 PF / 89 PA / +25 PD

Long seen as a one-dimensional team, with a tremendously stingy defense and poor offensive output, the Notre-Dame has now caught up. Now showing impressive savvy on the offensive side of the ball, their are now enjoying the fruits of some very successful recruitment efforts. With the likes of RB Alexis Côté enjoying a breakout season and QB Samuel Chénard finally showing why he was such a hot commodity coming out of high school (he left the last game with an undisclosed injury though), the Notre-Dame offense is as dangerous as its been in years. Add to that the fact that 10 of last year’s defensive starters are back, and you have a pretty potent team.

Strength: Their O-Line is almost intact from last year (veteran Joseph Poirier-Couture is out for an indefinite amount of time) which is one of the reason’s QB Chénard is having so much success.

Weakness: A lack of depth at the RB position could prove troublesome if Côté were to miss some games.

Player to Watch: Jean-Philippe Hudon LB – 24 Tk, 2 Sk, and 1 Int

This kid is the real deal, a force to be reckoned with everywhere on the field. Combining high mobility with a top-notch football IQ, Hudon is all over the field, making plays with ease. His transition to the CIS is already highly anticipated.
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4. Champlain-Lennoxville Cougars (3-1): 185 PF / 97 PA / +88 PD

The 2013 Bol d’Or champions are once again contenders. After some growing pains at the start of last season, they now seem to be rolling on all cylinders. RB Cedric Joseph is the beast everyone thought he would become, piling up 533 Yds and 7 TD while registering 7.8 Yds per run through four games. Veterans anchor every position except QB, where Michael Arruda has been more than steady, providing over 1000 Yds as well as 10 TD for his team. Favorites to win it all in 2014, the Cougars will need to shore up their defense. Penned in as one of the best defensive units in the league, they’ve allowed 97 points to their opponents leaving them at a lackluster 5th position in the league. Still, their offensive prowess is presently outweighing their defensive miscues which has them looking more dangerous than ever.

Strenght: They can rely on the deepest running back unit in the league with the likes of Joseph, Philippe Lessard-Vézina, Thomas Bertrand-Hudon and Anthony Joyal.

Weakness: Frankly, they don’t really have a glaring weakness. Perhaps the relative inexperience of QB Arruda could be their Achilles’ heel. However, he’s proven to be up to the challenge up to now.

Player to Watch: CFC100 Cedric Joseph is the most exciting player in the league right now. With video game-like stats and a propensity to elevate his game in tougher conditions, Joseph can literally take your breath away. If you’re trying to tackle him, that is.

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