Between the two of them they have a year of experience at post-secondary football when the season started. Now they are mainstays on the defensive line, playing in a rotation for the University of Calgary Dinos. Both are graduates of the strong football programs in cities outside of Calgary. Sophomore defensive end Connor McGough and freshman defensive end Joel Van Pelt hail from Medicine Hat and Lethbridge respectively.
McGough saw limited action last year on the offensive side of the football and special teams as the Dinos advanced to the Vanier Cup championship. In the offseason he was moved to the defensive side of the football at the start of spring camp, a position he played in High School.
Van Pelt, a freshman has dressed for all but one Conference game as an 18 year old. One of the prized recruits coming out of High School in Western Canada, Joel gained a wealth of experience playing for Team Canada.
“I asked to play defence and show the coaches what I could do,” states McGough. “I am thankful that I am getting more playing time and have adjusted quickly,” stated the Crescent Heights graduate. Statistics show that. Connor finished second in the Conference with four quarterback sacks, while collecting16 solo tackles, six assisted tackles including a pair of tackles for losses and one pass breakup.
“He more than held is own in that game against experienced players from Laval,” recalled defensive line Coach Kent Warnock, when speaking about the performance of rookie Joel Van Pelt.
“I am so fortunate to go up against great offensive linemen like Sukh (Chung) and our tackles (Braden Schram and Jordan Fillipelli) in practice. They are awesome and make me better,” states Van Pelt, who was the team’s nominee for the Peter Gorman Trophy as the top freshman in Canada West.
“The more games I play the more experience I get,” Van Pelt states who recorded six solo tackles, four assisted tackles and one pass breakup. He also had two tackles for losses.
Kent Warnock has been impressed with his two young defensive ends, “Joel has great size and length for a young player and has a great upside. He has taken a regular turn in our rotation. You can tell he has had good coaching when he came here.” In speaking about McGough, Kent think, “Connor has excellent speed for a player with his size, and is highly motivated to succeed.”
Both Van Pelt are McGough are grateful to have someone as knowledgeable Kent Warnock coaching them. “It’s awesome to have someone with his knowledge, coaching me and trying to improve my technique,” acknowledges McGough. Van Pelt states, “Kent helps me so much with my technique and helps me get better daily.” The pair will be a key to the defensive success for many years to come.