Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Campus corner: Mitchell figures big in Rice's plans

Notes on our athletes/teams of interest from The 613.

Football: Both the Athlon Sports and The Sporting News college football annuals are projecting Scott Mitchell, of Manotick, to start at left tackle on the Rice Owls offensive line.

Mitchell led St. Mark to those back-to-back OFSAA Bowl Series titles in 2005 and '06, when they quite likely were the best high school team in Ontario. The odd part is that TSN lists him at 270 lbs., absurdly small for an offensive lineman in Division 1 (even at a Conference USA school), but the Houston Chronicle's Moisekapenda Bower has a more recent update:

Expect to see a visible difference with the interior linemen on both sides of the football. Left tackle Scott Mitchell, the original Capt. Canuck, weighed 247 lbs when the Owls played Tulsa last November, down from the 270 he weighed when he arrived late last summer. Now, he's pushing 300, so expect him to be a beast come August.
The Sporting News also includes Rice going to a bowl game among their Fearless Forecasts for Conference USA. Maybe so, maybe not, but it sounds like it's looking up for Mitchell. Rice runs a spread offence and has a running quarterback, so that gives him a good grounding if he ever tries the CFL.

It's probably not in the plans to give regular Rice football updates, but they did sign a rush end from Vieux Montreal, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, bringing their Canadian content up to four players. One of them is Luke Willson, afirst baseman/tight end who's on Canada's roster for the World Junior Baseball Championship later this month.

The way it works at Rice is they often recruit someone for football just to get him on their top-ranked baseball team. Remember the name: Luke Willson. It shouldn't be hard, there's already another one, albeit with a different spelling.

Gee-Gees: One of the winningest high school coaches in Ottawa over the past 20 years, Andy Sparks, is taking over the Ottawa Gee-Gees women's basketball team.

Sparks guided the Ashbury Colts to successive OFSAA gold medals the past two seasons. The program is a real fixer-upper after the turmoil from last season, when four players left the team right at the outset of the conference schedule, which led to the team spiralling downward into a 3-19 record in the OUA (all three wins over schools from a certain Eastern Ontario city). Scaling to the top of the OUA East isn't exactly like tackling Everest, but York and Toronto have a bit of a recruiting edge, what with being closer to home for many of the players from the 519/905 belt west of Toronto (Hamilton, London, Brantford).

Taffe Charles raised the bar at Carleton in his first season with the Ravens women, so perhaps Sparks can respond with the Gee-Gees. It's preferable to have the Carleton-Ottawa rivalry reflected in having two highly competitive teams, just like in men's basketball, hockey and women's soccer.

Incidentally, will the Montpetit Hall P.A. announcer say, "All the way from Sparks Street!" after Gee-Gees player swishes an exceptionally long three-pointer? That joke was terrible.

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