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May 13, 2017

WHSFL | 2017 Senior Bowl

WHSFL Senior Bowl

Abdul Gasama was everywhere at Investors Group Field on Saturday before, during, and after the Winnipeg High School Football League’s annual Senior Bowl.

The Vincent Massey Trojans receiver did his thing between the lines, running and catching passes to help Team Boyd to a 34-17 victory over Team Kapilik en route to being named the game’s Offensive MVP.

Afterward, Gasama – now committed to the University of Manitoba Bisons – posed for pictures with the Gerry James Trophy and with Massey teammates with whom he took to the field for the last time.

In short, he couldn’t script a better finish to his high school career.

“That was so much fun,” Gasama said following the game. “Honestly, being out here one more time with the guys, one more time strapped up… it felt really good. We lost last year in the (WHSFL) finals so to have one more time out here on the field with them is special.

“Losing hurt. But to see all the boys smiling again, especially the guys from my team, was just awesome.”

WHSFL Senior Bowl

Abdul Gasama, the Senior Bowl’s Offensive MVP.

The annual Senior Bowl brings together the best graduating players from Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario for an all-star game. This year’s event honoured Corey Kapilik, who was instrumental in starting the Miles Mac program, and the late Kevin Boyd, a powerful figure with Crocus Plains and amateur football in Brandon and the Westman region.

The game didn’t disappoint, with several highlight-of-the-night type plays and the quarterbacks from both teams filling the air with passes.

Team Boyd got three touchdowns from Grant Park Pirates running back Brandon O’Connor, another score from Jeremy Gillis of the Vincent Massey Trojans, and two field goals from Taj Moryl, also of the Trojans.

St. Paul’s Crusaders quarterback Riley Naujoks connected with Gage Foster of the Portage Trojans for one of Team Kapilik’s two TDs, the other coming on a TD strike from Mathe Mitayango of Miles Mac to Bryce Stubbings of St. Paul’s, while Danny Harris of Kildonan East hit on a 30-yard field goal.

O’Connor, like many of the players in the game, does have more football in his future after signing with the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

“I had so much fun just playing football again today,” said O’Connor. “It’s been at least a couple of months, so to get out here again, just to put the gear back on… I felt that rush again. I wanted to hit somebody again. I had some nerves right before the game, but once it started it was all good.”

WHSFL Senior Bowl

A number of the players in the game will continue with university ball, including Vincent Massey Trojans quarterback Andreas Dueck (McMaster University), Crocus Plains defensive lineman Doug Wilkinson (Alberta), Murdoch Mackay offensive lineman Halem Hirzai (Regina), Dakota offensive lineman Connor Kyliuk (McGill), Vincent Massey Trojans defensive lineman Myles Baldwin (McMaster), St. Paul’s O-lineman Wyatt Edmonds (McMaster), and Vincent Massey Trojans’ Jalen Burley, a defensive lineman who is off to St. Francis-Xavier University.

Burley was the Senior Bowl’s Defensive MVP on Saturday.

Several others will be attending Winnipeg Rifles spring camp this weekend.

“I feel bad for some of these guys who aren’t continuing on,” said O’Connor. “It’s a privilege to play football after high school.”

“I know a lot of these guys will stay with the game,” added Gasama. “Maybe as coaches, as refs, volunteers. So many of these guys love the game and so leaving it is hard.

“That’s why putting on an event like this every year is so important. It gives a lot of guys one last chance to step on the field. It’s a really good way to go out.”