Football Lions head for professional ranks

Two members of the York Lions football team, running back Josh Martyr and fourth-year quarterback Bart Zemanek, are heading for the professional football ranks.

Joshua MartyrMartyr has signed a contract (two years plus an option) with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. The Woodbridge native opened eyes at a Canadian Football League (CFL) combine in Quebec City last month and received a call from the Roughriders last week.

Right: Josh Martyr

“At my age, this is what I wanted to do – to compete in the upper echelons of athletics at one of the highest levels,” Martyr said. “In training camp, hopefully I can prove myself and create some confidence in the coaching staff.”

Martyr becomes the second Lions player to sign with a CFL team this spring, following in the footsteps of Raphael Osai, who got a deal with the Calgary Stampeders.

Left: Bart Zemanek

Zemanek has accepted an invitation to play for the Helsinki Wolverines of the European Football League this summer.

Zemanek, following in the footsteps of several other Canadian Interuniversity Sport players who have played in the off-season league, got the call from the American rules team after putting his resume on a European football web site.

“It’s a great opportunity to see Europe with my girlfriend (who is joining him) and to play some football,” said Zemanek, named York’s most valuable player in 2006.

Zemanek, who qualifies as a non-import because he has Polish and Canadian citizenship, will play games in countries like Russia, Austria, England and Spain before making an expected return to York in 2007-2008.

Three Lions heading to East West Bowl

Offensive tackle Dave Gauer, linebacker Anthony Thomas and running back Nick Reynolds will represent York in the fifth annual CIS East West Bowl on May 12 in Quebec City. The event showcases the top Canadian university players eligible for the 2008 CFL draft.

Gauer, a transfer from Michigan’s Saginaw Valley State University, was named York’s comeback player of the year in 2006 after missing the entire 2005 campaign with a nasty unknown illness.

“He couldn’t do anything (during the 2005 season),” Lions coach Tom Gretes said of the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Mississauga native, who earned a starting role this past season. “He was in and out of the hospital and nobody knew exactly what it was. To this day they still don’t know. (Now) he’s one of the top pro prospects going into next year’s draft. He’s one of the top tackles in the OUA. (Ontario University Athletics).”

Thomas tied for the team lead with two sacks in 2006 despite missing six of York’s eight games because of injury.

“He was one of the top linebackers in high school a few years ago (at Northern in Toronto) and he is a team leader for us,” Gretes said.

Reynolds will have a chance to shine in 2007 after the Ottawa product spent the past two years learning from established veterans Andre Durie, Pearce Akpata and Martyr.

“He’s a team captain and he has a chance to really step up next year,” said Gretes. “He is a really good runner and he had a great spring camp.”

This story was submitted to YFile by Mike Koreen, sport & recreation information officer in York’s School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health.