Steven Koniuck looks for space against Oak Park during the 2018 WHSFL season
The Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) is proud to announce that 11 of its athletes have been chosen from a nationwide search to participate in the inaugural CanadaFootballChat (CFC) national showcase game on June 1st in Ottawa. Head coaches for the game will be CFL legends Matt Dunigan and Henry Burris. The contest will be replayed in its entirety on TSN on Sunday, June 2 at 12 p.m. E.T.
These athletes, along with 63 others were selected by a committee of 33 individuals that include a number of former U SPORTS and CFL alumni.
“With 11 athletes going to represent Manitoba and the WHSFL it's a major step for our league, as it's proving that not only are we having more athletes continue their football Journey with U SPORTS/CJFL and into the CFL, but we're also sending top tier athletes in all age groups to provincial, national and even international competitions,” commissioner Jeffrey Bannon said.
“On behalf of the entire WHSFL, we're so proud of these athletes, their coaches and their families for all the hard work, dedication on and off the field. We wish them nothing but the continued success in Ottawa.”
Representing the WHSFL in Ottawa are:
- Kaiden Bannon, grade 11 wide receiver – Garden City: Bannon is a big-body wideout at 6’2” and over 180 pounds whose catch radius is among the best in Canada and is difficult to out-work with the ball in the air. A field stretcher, he runs precise routes and has a high football IQ. The product of the North Winnipeg Nomads is also a former member of Team Canada at the U16 level in 2017, Team Manitoba at both the U16 and U18 level from 2017-18 and Recruit Ready’s travelling team from 2018-19.
- Nathan Carabatsakis, grade 11 linebacker – St. Paul’s 1: A natural athlete based on his basketball background, Carabatsakis has quickly become one of the top linebacker prospects in the nation due to his rare combination of size at 6’4” and 220 pounds as well as his strength in getting off the block and speed as both as pass-rusher and ball-tracker. The St. Vital Mustangs product has a nose for the football and also represented Canada at the International Bowl in 2018 along with being a member of Team Manitoba in 2018 and Recruit Ready travelling team member in 2018 and 2019.
- Steven Koniuck, grade 11 wide receiver – Sisler: Speed is the key word for Koniuck, who is one of the fastest players not only in the province but also the nation. He also has great hands, a knack for the end zone and is a stellar route-runner. A Nomads product, he represented Team Manitoba in 2018 and has been a Recruit Ready travelling team member for the past two years.
- Isheanasu Matanga, grade 11 running back – Vincent Massey, Winnipeg: Matanga is a versatile athlete at 5’10” and 210 pounds who can line up anywhere from h-back to fullback to running back. A bruising runner, he looks for contact but also has tremendous hands for a back of his size. The Fort Gary Lions alum represented Manitoba at the Canada Cup in 2018 and has also been on Recruit Ready’s travelling team for two seasons.
- Victor Olaniran, grade 11 offensive lineman – Vincent Massey, Winnipeg: Olaniran, who stands at 6’4” and 250 pounds, is a beast at tackle due to his athleticism, foot speed and versatility as both a run and pass blocker. He also represented Manitoba at the 2018 Canada Cup.
- Zackary Lytle, grade 10 defensive end – St. Paul’s 1: Lytle is an exceptional pass rusher with dynamic hands and even faster feet. This product of the East Side Eagles can get to the quarterback and take over games. He’s also a former captain of Team Manitoba U16 and a current Recruit Ready travelling team member.
- Giordano Vaccaro, grade 10 offensive lineman – St. Paul’s 1: Vaccaro is lineman's lineman, who digs deep in the trenches and quickly establishes the line of scrimmage. His pure raw power opens holes and creates time and space for his offense to take shape and isn't afraid to get downfield. This 6’2”, 280-pound product of the Corydon Comets proves that playing whistle to whistle, non -stop pays off, as evidenced by his selection to Team Manitoba U16 in 2018.
- Rhyland Kelly, grade 10 defensive back – Oak Park: A lock down defender with exceptional coverage speed and route breaking, this Oak Park product time and time again shuts down the opposition’s passing game. He is hands down one of the best corners in his age group across the country and has a deep understanding of both sides of the ball having also been a standout at running back for the Raiders varsity team last year.
- Jordan Friesen, grade 11 defensive lineman – Dakota: Friesen is an absolute terror on the defensive line at 6’2” and 241 pounds. His first step and freakish athleticism make for matchup nightmares regardless as to whether he lines up inside or on the edge. The St. Vital Mustangs product was the Division 1 Rookie of the Year two seasons ago and has played for Team Manitoba U16 and U18.
- Ethan Nagler, grade 11 punter/kicker – Kelvin: Nagler has been a pivotal part of the Kelvin Clippers’ success over the past few years, where they’ve earned the top seed in division 2 in back-to-back seasons. Among the converted soccer star’s highlights are a 42-yard field goal in grade ten to help secure a 9-7 win against Dryden as well as an 81-yard punt with wind and rain in his face to help guarantee an 8-0 win against Crocus last year. He also made two field goals in the contest.
- Kundanji Sinkala, grade 11 linebacker – St. Paul’s 2: Sinkala has only been playing football for two years, however looking at the way he plays you’d be hard pressed to notice. He has tremendous range at middle linebacker and excels on getting off the block and finding the ball carrier.