Legendary coach Don Loney to be inducted into Canadian football hall of fame

Legendary coach Don Loney to be inducted into Canadian football hall of fame

Fryer, Loney to be inducted into Canadian Football Hall of Fame

OTTAWA (CIS) – Brian Fryer, a standout running back and receiver at the University of Alberta, and the late Don Loney, a legendary coach at St. Francis Xavier University, are about to become immortalized in Canadian football history.

The duo was announced as part of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame’s 2013 induction class on Thursday, along with former CFL players Dan Ferrone, Miles Gorrell and Earl Winfield, as well as former CFL official John (Jake) Ireland, who will enter the Hall in the builders category.

The induction festivities are set for next fall in Edmonton.

“I would like to thank the members of the selection committee for their commitment and dedication to select a truly great class to celebrate our 50th anniversary,” said Mark DeNobile, executive director of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum. “This is the third class selected under the new terms of reference in which we recognized all levels of football in Canada. We are very pleased to see significant amateur representation in the 2013 class.”

Fryer and Loney follow in the footsteps of Saint Mary’s quarterback Chris Flynn (2011, player), Alberta and Windsor coach Gino Fracas (2011, builder), Mount Allison running back Éric Lapointe (2012, player) and Calgary sideline boss Peter Connellan (2012, builder), who were all recently inducted into the CFHOF for their accomplishments in the Canadian university game.

Fryer will join the Hall in the players category. The Edmonton native joined his hometown U of A Golden Bears in 1972 and had an immediate impact, helping the team capture the Vanier Cup in his freshman season. The national title was the first of innumerable accomplishments he would add to his resume over his varsity career.

In four campaigns at Alberta, Fryer was not only dominant, he also showed remarkable versatility by being named a Canada West all-star at three different positions in his final three seasons, including running back in 1973, wide receiver in 1974 and slotback in 1975. He earned all-Canadian status in his junior and senior years after being voted Canada West MVP on both occasions and, in 1975, achieved the greatest individual honour in CIS football when he claimed the Hec Crighton Trophy.

Almost four decades after his final university outing, Fryer still holds numerous Golden Bears records, including most all-purpose touchdowns (34), TD catches (20) and receiving yards (2,655) in a career, most points (98), all-purpose majors (16), TD catches (14), receptions (58) and yards through the air (1,068) in a single season, and most touchdowns (5) and receiving yards (227) in a game. Many of those team standards were also CIS or Canada West marks at the time. Before he accomplished both feats in 1974, no CIS player had registered 50 catches or 1,000 receiving yards in a single campaign.

Fryer wasn’t done writing Canadian university football history once he wrapped up his varsity career. On April 8th, 1976, he became the first CIS player to be drafted by an NFL team when the Washington Redskins selected him in the eighth round, 234th overall. He played in four games for the Redskins in 1976 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. After spending the 1977 campaign rehabbing on Washington’s practice roster, he signed with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos in 1978 and was part of the dynasty that won five straight Grey Cups from 1978 to 1982. He appeared in eight contests for Edmonton in 1985 before finishing the season, and his professional career, with three games for the Ottawa Rough Riders.

Soon after he hung up his cleats in 1985, Fryer became the executive director of Football Alberta and has held the position ever since. Over the years, he has been inducted into the Alberta High School, City of Edmonton, Province of Alberta and University of Alberta Sports Halls of Fame.

“Brian was one of the most gifted athletes I had the privilege to coach,” said former U of A head coach Jim Donlevy (1971-1990). “All Golden Bears should be proud of the honour Brian has achieved. His distinguished career with the University of Alberta, the Edmonton Eskimos and Washington Redskins is testament to his skill and ability.”

Loney, who is already a member of the Canada, Nova Scotia, Canadian Forces and StFX Sports Halls of Fame, will be inducted into the CFHOF as a builder.

Loney headed the X-Men football program from 1957 to 1973. In 17 seasons at the helm, he compiled an impressive record of 133 wins, 31 losses and two ties, for a remarkable winning percentage of .807. He guided his troops to nine conference banners (including the pre-AUS era), six Jewett Trophy titles as AUS champions, four Atlantic Bowl championships, as well as a dominating 40-14 triumph over Waterloo Lutheran in the second Canadian College Bowl (now Vanier Cup) in 1966.

Maybe more important than wins and losses, Loney was a true university football pioneer. In 1960, he was instrumental in creating the Atlantic Bowl, Canada’s first post-season invitational game, which officially became a national semifinal in 1967. He was also one of the architects of the Canadian College Bowl, which kicked off in 1965. Following the 1973 season, the Atlantic Bowl MVP award was named after him and, in 2006, the AUS championship final was renamed the Loney Bowl.

Before he turned to coaching, Loney was himself an exceptional football player. He played eight seasons as a centre in the CFL with Toronto (1), Ottawa (6) and Calgary (1), meriting four East all-star selections and the Jeff Russell Trophy as East MVP in 1950, a rare feat for a player at his position. He won a pair of Grey Cups, with the Argonauts in 1946 and the Rough Riders in 1951. During the Second World War, before he was sent overseas to serve in England, he suited up for the Ottawa Combines and the Montreal Navy team. 

The legendary X-Men coach, who was born in Ottawa in 1923, passed away in 2004 at the age of 80.

“Don Loney was known as the father of Maritime football and he became a legend in Canadian football,” said Leo MacPherson, StFX director of Athletics and Recreation. “He put StFX football on the national map and, decades after he finished coaching, his name is still synonymous with X-Men Football. All of us in the StFX family are extremely proud of Don Loney’s career accomplishments and he is very deserving of being officially recognized in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.”

CFHOF website: www.cfhof.ca