Three Stingers players participated in drills in front of pro scouts and coaches
Over 40 football athletes gathered at Concordia’s Loyola campus on March 9 in hopes of turning their performance into a shot at making it to the CFL national combine in Toronto.
The Canadian Football League eastern regional combine, in Montreal, had three Concordia Stingers showcasing their skills in front of a jam-packed audience.
The combine was held at the Stingers Dome, which instilled a state of solace and ease in Stingers cornerback Rashawn Perry’s mind while performing his drills.
“Playing on our home field gave me a sense of comfort,” said Perry. “I’m here all the time and I didn’t have any jitters, it was just like any other day for me.”
Perry went on to say that he was very proud of his fellow teammates at the combine and felt like their success lied on the shoulders of the Stingers coaching staff and the football program in its entirety.
“I thought our Concordia players were some of the best athletes out here today,” said Perry. “I think it’s a huge testament to the direction of our program. They prepared us to be ready for this moment and they achieved that with the hard work we put in all season.”
“As for my individual performance, I did alright, but I felt like I could’ve done better,” Perry said. “I was really upset with my 40-yard dash but I was very happy with my special teams drills. I felt like I excelled with those.”
Daniel Skube, Concordia’s fourth year slot receiver, felt like he kept his composure throughout the day and expressed a strong sign of approval and respect towards the nature of the combine and the players within it.
“In my opinion, Quebec’s where the best pool of talent is in the whole country,” said Skube. “That’s why we compete for so many national championships and send guys to the CFL. It’s nice to know that you’re playing amongst the best players.”
The drills which took place after lunch saw increased spectatorship and it was quite obvious that the players on the field were feeding off of the ambience. Whenever a big block was made by a running back in the one-on-one drills, or a big hit was registered by a linebacker, the crowd sent a howl that rebounded off of the dome walls which added a dynamic flare to the event.
The combine saw several different faces attending such as scouts, coaches and even former players rooting for their friends. Current Winnipeg Blue Bomber and former Concordia Stinger Kris Bastien attended the event and was cheering on his longtime friend Daniel Skube.
“I know Skube is the kind of guy that performs when he’s calm, so I just told him to be confident and do what he’s been doing his whole life,” said Bastien.
Bastien, who skipped the regional stage altogether and moved straight to the national combine in his final year of CIS football, mentioned the jump from college football to professional is not an easy process and takes time.
“It’s a pretty big step … the game speed is faster [and] the size of the players is different but you adjust,” said Bastien. “For me, it was a learning experience. It took a couple weeks but once you get in, it’s just work as usual.”
When asked about how the popularity and player caliber of CIS football has developed over time, Bastien had nothing but good things to say.
“Football has been on the rise every year and you see guys improving and even the combine itself is getting better,” he said. “It’s just fun to come back and see these guys impress everyone.”
With great talent comes great opportunity, however, third-year Concordia linebacker Arto Khatchikian knows very well that education undoubtedly comes first.
“I won’t be returning next season, I’m done. It’s time to focus on school and get a degree,” said Khatchikian.
He also mentioned he worked extremely hard for this day and put in countless hours with his coaches to prepare.
“I did pretty well, but could’ve done a lot better though, that’s 100 per cent certain,” Khatchikian said. “I was training hard, probably every day for this. I was constantly repeating drills to get me prepared for this event.”
Stingers offensive line coach Ted Karabatsos mentioned he was very proud of the way his players performed, despite not having any Concordia athletes moving on to the regionals in Toronto.
“The biggest thing for me is that they compete and that they don’t give up,” said Karabatsos. “Whatever the drill, whatever the exercise, I want them to mentally process what they’re being told and not make a mistake.”
When the combine concluded, four players were selected for the nationals in Toronto. This included McGill fullback Devon Stewart, St. Francis Xavier University fullback Donald Tabor, Ottawa linebacker Marc-Antoine Laurin and Carabins defensive back Maiko Zepeda.
Stingers defensive back Mikael Charland and offensive lineman Roman Grozman both earned a spot at the national combine without having to attend this year’s regionals. They’ll both look to impress the eyes of CFL scouts and improve on their draft stock. This year’s CFL draft will take place May 10 in Toronto.