Lions offer commits “family” feeling

York adds two Ontario commits to their 2019 class.

Nikola Marinkovic, an offensive lineman from St. Pius X High School, and Elijah Paulsen, a quarterback from Dr. Frank J. Hayden High School, are ready to sink their teeth into U Sports football with the York Lions.

Nikola Marinkovic

Courtesy of Nikola Marinkovic.

When Nikola Marinkovic joins the Lions, he knows he will be welcomed with open arms. “I chose York because they are a team that has a great family feeling, which was something that I valued as a player. As well, they value education very highly and want their students excel academically,” said Marinkovic, who will be studying business commerce.

“York has a great o-line coach in Matt Sewell, a former CFL and NFL player, that I believed could help me take my skills to the next level,” he added. “Along with Coach Sewell is Coach Peterson, an ex New Hampshire football player who can bring those elements of US football to Canada as an OC and a strength coach.”

The 6’4, 280lbs left tackle played for the Ottawa Myers Riders in both the OVFL and NCAFA. He also played with the Ottawa Sooners (OPFL). Marinkovic has spent seven years playing football in his hometown of Ottawa, Ontario.

In 2016, he was nominated as a top offensive lineman for NCAFA Riders. He also participated in the all-star game that same year. In 2017, he won the OVFL championship with Myers. Marinkovic, who is Croatian and Serbian, also plays rugby with his high school.

Elijah Paulsen

When Elijah Paulsen went on his visit, it was the football program and facilities that really impressed him, “from a brand new 7,000 seating stadium, to a full indoor track facility and a whole new rebrand of the program.”

He added that, “The facilities are one thing I liked a lot, as it made it clear that York is putting a lot of time, energy and funds into their varsity Lions football program. I love it all and can’t wait to get started.”

On the academic side, he said the the level of academic support is phenomenal. “That’s what really tipped me over the edge. Having an ‘academic coach’ on the football team that keeps me on top of my school work and pushes me to another level of studying that doesn’t even happen at home will help me greatly,” Paulsen added.

Paulsen has been accepted into engineering. He went to a workshop at the new engineering building, which he said was really impressive. “It’s a great learning environment for me, one where I feel I can succeed in my post-secondary education,” he said.

When Paulsen spoke about the team’s coaches, he said they have very credible and legitimate resumes. “Coach Matt Deans, the recruiting coordinator and running back coach, is the first coach that I met,” he said. “He is very friendly and enjoyable to be around. He also has a master’s degree in coaching from Ohio State.”

By Michelle Malvaso.

He added that, “Coach Kamau Peterson, the offensive coordinator, is very friendly, professional and has an impressive resume. As a former NFL, CFL and AFL player, he has a ton of knowledge that brings a lot of strategy and strong scheme to the Lions playbook. I look forward to working with him.”

While he admitted his has limited knowledge about the rest of the coaches, he said he is looking forward to meeting them all. He added that they seem like a great group of coaches to work with.

Paulsen is from Burlington, Ontario. Standing at 5’10, 165lbs, he played with the Dr. Frank J. Hayden Huskies (HSSAA). He also played with the Burlington Stampeders (OFC) and the Cambridge Lions (OPFL).

He has participated in two Fox 40 Prospect Challenges. In grade 10, he was on Team Halton-Peel, which played at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Ontario. He also played last season.

“I really enjoyed my experience at FPC, especially with the opportunity to play at the Hamilton Ti-Cats stadium. That was a huge highlight,” Paulsen said. “It also gave me some drive to make it to the next level. Experiencing playing in a massive setting like that is very motivational. It gave me a taste of the next level and motivated me to work until I got to that level.”

In his grade 10 season, he was named as an offensive MVP. He was a starting quarterback and lead blocker for his running backs on almost every play they ran.

“If I wasn’t throwing the ball, I was either running it myself, or pitching it to my running backs and then running in front of them to mow down two or three enemies that wanted to take my backs out. We were an unstoppable force,” Paulsen said.

That same year, the Huskies faced off against their rivals, the Nelson Lords, in the championship game. Paulsen opened the game with a 15-yard rushing touchdown. “Soon, Nelson caught up and took the game in the last few minutes. Unfortunately, we did not win,” he said.

This past season, he received a ‘leadership award.’ He said was the starting the quarterback and would set the tone for practice day in and day out. “Grade 12 was a good building year for me, as I completely took the reins and learned how to lead a senior team through the wins and losses of a season,” he added.

Before joining the Lions, Paulsen has several quarterback coaches he would like to thank. He said that Will Finch, a former quarterback for the Western Mustangs, Mike Finch, Will’s father, Jeremiah Masol, the current Tiger-Cats starting quarterback, and Gerold Harris, his high school quarterback coach, have all invested a lot into him and helped him get to where he is today.

“I can’t thank these four men enough and I can’t express how good of role models they have been for me,” he added. “Not every football coach has good character, but these four guys are the best of the best. They’ve inspired me to be a stronger player, leader and a stronger man as I grow and go through life.”

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