QUEBEC CITY – A trio of UBC Thunderbirds football players, including Vernon’s Ben Hladik, have been named U Sports All-Canadians at the annual Vanier Cup gala.
Hladik, a second-year linebacker, was named to the first team All-Canadian defensive squad, as was teammate Stavros Katsantonis, a fourth-year free safety.
Fourth-year receiver Trivel Pinton earned a first-team nod on offence while also being recognized for his kick returning abilities on the second team special teams list.
Hladik has been named an All-Canadian for the first time in his U Sports career in just his second season. He finished the season with 49.5 total tackles, the second highest total in the Canada West. Hladik also amassed three sacks and a conference-leading three fumble recoveries and won the 2018 Canada West Outstanding Defensive Player award.
“I’m very proud of myself but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates especially my defensive line, I have to give them a shout out,” said Hladik, who was the only T-Birds player who was able to head out east and be in attendance at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City to collect his award, on the UBC website. “They held the double teams for me all year, creating holes for me to shoot as well as the secondary holding the deep pass down the whole year.
“I also couldn’t have done it without head coach Blake Nill and defensive coordinator Pat Tracey, I thought their support and belief in me and their leadership throughout the whole season, they’ve been a huge help over the first two years here at UBC and I hope it continues and keeps going up from here.”
Hladik was up for the President’s Trophy Defensive Player of the Year in all U Sports at the gala, but the honour went to Fraser Sopik of the defending Vanier Cup champion Western Mustangs.
Hladik helped the Vernon Panthers reach the B.C. Subway Bowl Senior Varsity AA Football Championship in his final year of eligibility in 2016, but VSS fell to the Seaquam Seahawks of South Delta in the championship game at B.C. Place.
Hladik was named the province’s most valuable player that year, and younger brother, Bradley, was named Top Grade 11 Defensive Player. It was the same award his older brother won the year before.