2001 Football

Inducted in 2017

Perfection is achieved with hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence.
That one sentence describes one of the greatest Saint Mary’s University football teams of all time.
The 2001 team would achieve the ultimate goal in the CIS, winning the Vanier Cup.  Undefeated.
The corps of that team arrived on campus in 1998 and could garner almost instant success but ultimate failure when they lost to Laval 14-10 in the ‘99 National championship.  One year later they would go undefeated in the League only to lose to the University of Regina 40-36 in the Atlantic Bowl, in the final minutes of the game.  The lessons of failure were learned quickly and applied.
Blake Nill inherited a solid and very successful football program put in place by the man admired by so many, Larry Uteck.   Following a good recruiting season, one of Nill’s first priorities was to adjust the culture.   By his own admission he came from the ‘hard ass’ school.   He demanded much of his players.  It was his way or the highway.   The team bought into the program and the results followed.   The defensive philosophy was simple:
Attack with aggression.  Offensively it began with the ‘O’ line that would provide solid blocking for a good running game and time for the QB’s to find any number of highly skilled receivers.
Top heavy with 4th and 5th players (a Nill trademark) the 2001 team was much a tight knit family.    They began the season demolishing arch rival StFX 65-13 in an exhibition game.  The following week they rushed for 431 yards in turning aside Mt. Allison 105-0.   By the time SMU finished 8 and 0 they had allowed a miserly 31 points and scored an average of 60 points per game.  Ryan Jones had tossed 21 TD passes, the best in the CIS.
The 40th and last Atlantic Bowl was a rematch of 1999 - SMU vs. Laval.   This time around in front of 7,000 Saint Mary’s crushed the Rouge et Or 48-8.  Sweet revenge.
Off to the 37th edition of the Vanier Cup where teams from the AUS had lost 7 in a row.   Saint Mary’s were the underdogs despite scoring 480 points and not giving up a single rushing TD.  Even with those impressive stats the team was considered a Division Two CIS school.   You are in the “big show” but who have you beaten. There was little respect.
Making their 4th appearance in the Cup in 28 years SMU would be up against arguably the best defensive front 7 in the nation; the favourites to give the West its 13th Cup since 1980, the University of Manitoba Bisons.   SMU would overcome 23 penalties, receive an MVP performance from Jones and get a turnaround interception late in the game from Kyle Morrison and finally earn some long overdue respect with a 42-16 win; the 2nd victory for Saint Mary’s in Vanier Cup history.
The Huskies as expected dominated the AUS All-Star team with 10 on offense and 7 on defense. At the All Canadian level Luis Perez, Jason Currie and Jean Michel Sylvan were selected on offense with Doug Borden and Curtis Nash on defense.   
If not the best team in CIS history one of the most dominant, certainly on defense.   Offensively there were powered by a very big and talented line that made the running so effective with Perez and Dean Jones.  Add to the mix a creative coaching staff and a team that was willing to sacrifice and focus and play for each other and you have the recipe for perfection.
Saint Mary’s Huskies: the perfect Vanier Cup Champions for 2001.
Team Members: Sean Ahronson, Mohammed Al-Shaghay, Nick Ancona, Scott Annand (Assistant Coach), Paul Archer, Denis Arruda, Joey Arsenault, Joe Barbati, Domenico Bartolacci, Gord Beattie (Assistant Coach), Trefton Bollers, Joseph Bonaventura, Doug Borden, Wally Bowes (Film Technician), Chris Breckenridge, Mike Bridges (Waterboy), Stephen Brothers, Anthony Brown, Colin Bush (Assistant Coach), David Chapman, Rocco Cicciarella, Sebastian Clovis, Byron Conroy, Jason Currie, Mathieu Demers, Ian Ferguson, Paul Fleming, Lori Forbes (Sports Information), Matthew Fox, Joseph Fulton, Dr. Nina Gow (Team Doctor), Erico Hakim, Julieh Hakim, Gabriel Harvey, Pierre-Paul Huet, Troy Hutt, Ryan Jones, Dean Jones, Ryan Kaehn, Alex Kyriacopulos, Josh Labucki, John Landry (Asst. Manager), Pierre Lefebvre (Assistant Coach), Alex Lubin, Stephane Lubin, Erik Lyman, Lisa MacDonald (Asst. Athletic Therapist), Ted MacLean (Assistant Coach), Atnas Maeko, Steven Marques, Paul Mason (Team Manager), Nathan McHugh, Michael McPherson, David Metlej, Jeff Moodie, Steve Morley, Kyl Morrison, Leslie Mullings, Norm Nahas, Chakib Najm, Curtis Nash, Bruce Nelson, Chad Newhook (Athletic Therapist), Blake Nill (Head Coach), Taylor Nill (Waterboy), Marcus Noel, Erik Nowak, Colin Oldrieve, Dan Palov (Assistant Coach), Alex Panagopaulos, Steve Panella, Ryan Pedley, Luis Perez, Matthew Peters, Dr. David Petrie (Team Doctor), Philippe Roberge, Bill Robinson, John Rozier, John Salmas, Steve Sarty (Assistant Coach), Ryan Scanlan, Kris Sembalerus, Cartier Shields, Christian Simmerling, Justin Skinner, Dave Stala, Daniel Steeves, Kurt Stevenson (Asst. Athletic Therapist), Larry Stewart (Assistant Coach), Steve Sumarah (Assistant Coach), Jean-Michel Sylvain, Elie Tannous, Jason Terris, Patrick Thibeault, Olaf Tomiuk, Travis Tyler, Larry Uteck (Athletic Director), Derek Watson, Jordan West, Colin White, Andrew Williams (Assistant Coach), Sam Wood (Asst. Manager)

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