QUEBEC CITY – Western Mustangs linebacker Pawel Kruba was named the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) football defensive player of the year at the Sun Life Financial All-Canadian Banquet on Thursday night.
Two other Mustangs were nominated for major awards including Will Finch for the Hec Crighton Trophy and head coach Greg Marshall for the Frank Tindall Trophy. Both awards were won by members of the Bishop’s Gaiters with Jordan Heather claiming the Crighton and Kevin Mackey taking the Tindall.
Along with defensive player of the year honours, Kruba was also named a CIS first team all-Canadian as were teammates Brian Marshall, George Johnson and Beau Landry. Four other Mustangs earned spots on the second team including Will Finch, Daryl Waud, Dylan Ainsworth and Lirim Hajrullahu. Western’s eight all-Canadians are the most of any CIS team this season, with Laval having seven and Calgary having six players named.
Kruba, a Windsor native, became the third Western player to receive the Presidents’ Trophy, joining Derek Krete (1996) and Brent Lewis (1987).
In his final university season, the 5-foot-11, 210-pound senior placed second on the team with 38 tackles in eight league games (4.8 per game), including three for losses, and tied for the Mustangs’ lead with three interceptions. He was the heart and soul of a defensive unit which ranked second in Ontario and sixth in the country in both points allowed (18.5 ppg) and against the run (109.9 ypg), while also provoking 28 turnovers, the second highest total in CIS.
Kruba, who was a second-team OUA all-star a year ago, helped the Mustangs to first place in the OUA standings thanks to their first 8-0 regular season since 1998 and to No. 1 status in each of the last five national media polls.
“Pawel is the captain of our defence and one of the leaders of our team,” Marshall said. “He is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker and has demonstrated outstanding balance at defending both the run and the pass. He’s one of the guys that our team looks up to, not only the players but the coaching staff as well.”