McMaster coaches deal-breaker for commits

McMaster adds two local commits, one GTA commit and one CJFLer to their team.

For linebacker Jesse Antonio Zajaros from Kamloops Broncos (CJFL), running back Michael Capizzano from Richview Collegiate Institute and defensive lineman Mateo Bevilacqua from St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School, it was the McMaster Marauders’ coaches that made all the difference.

Linebacker Ryan Leder from St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School will also be joining the Marauders.

Jesse Antonio Zajaros

By Jim Motokado.

Jesse Antonio Zajaros lives each day with a renewed sense of being. “Football has been a rocky road. My first year in Kamloops, I had a season-ending concussion, which very honestly changed my whole outlook on life and football. I had a rough patch, but came back with a better understanding of not wasting any time here on earth,” he said.

Back in high school, Zajaros said he struggled to find what he wanted to do with his life. It’s this experience that has made him want to become a school counsellor. He plans on taking social sciences. “I believe it’d give me an opportunity to give back to high school kids trying to find their way and decide what they really want to do,” he said.

As a football player, Zajaros understands the power of having someone to guide you. How can players improve without coaches to help them? “The coaching staff (at McMaster) comes off very direct and honest, which I appreciate,” Zajaros said. “(Head Coach) Greg Knox is a very upfront man and someone I believe I can trust moving forward.”

Zajaros added that recruiter Dana Segin has always gotten back to him immediately whenever he had questions. While he hasn’t spoken with Kyle Quinlan much, he said he is a big fan of his style and attitude after watching his 2011 and 2012 Vanier cup runs.

By Jim Motokado.

“I am a bit upset with the leaving of McMasters’ linebacker coach as I know he would be able to help push me forward in my development but I’m confident that the program will find an adequate replacement as I believe they have a high standard for their coaching,” Zajaros added.

A product of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Zajaros, who is 6’1, 210lbs, is excited to see more of Canada. He said that committing to McMaster gives him another chance to move around the country and create new life experiences. “As well, it gives me a great opportunity to get a quality education as well as play for a known top-tier football program,” he added.

In his six-year career, Zajaros has played with the Transcona Nationals and the Murdoch MacKay Clansmen (Winnipeg High School Football League) before moving to Kamloops, BC, to play with the Broncos. In his first year with the Nationals, he was the team’s MVP. In his senior year of high school, he was the Clansmen’s defensive MVP. He also led the league in tackles and was an AAA all-star. This past season, he was the Bronco’s MVP and a BCFC all-star.

Michael Capizzano

Courtesy of Michael Capizzano.

When you’re apart of a team, playing your heart out is a lot easier when you like your coaches. Michael Capizzano won’t have much trouble with that.

“I chose to commit to McMaster because of the phenomenal coaches. They are all great guys who know what they are talking about and know just the right balance between academics and football,” said Capizzano, who is interested in kinesiology.

“Coach Knox and Coach Flaxman…are everything you look for in a football coach. They are eager to win and bring a Vanier back to McMaster, but they also understand the importance of keeping up good grades to further your education and continue to push their players to perform their best in the classroom,” he added.

Originally from Etobicoke, Ontario, Capizzano probably won’t need much time adjusting to Hamilton. “McMaster has a beautiful campus, which added to the feeling of home,” he said. “From the time I spent at McMaster visiting, there was an overwhelming feeling of family, which is really important to me and exactly what I was looking for.”

Capizzano spent five years with the Richview CI Saints (Toronto District Secondary School Athletics Association) and six with the Etobicoke Eagles (one in the OMFL and five in the OVFL). He also spent one year on the Mississauga Warriors (OPFL). He said that he has some former teammates on the Marauders, which added to the appeal of playing at McMaster.

In 2013, the 5’9, 180lbs slotback was a junior city champion. In 2017, the he and the Saints captured a city championship and won the Metro Bowl. He was also the recipient of the Bruce Boyd Leadership Award with the Saints this past season.

Mateo Bevilacqua

Forget long and tedious morning commutes for Mateo Bevilacqua. He lives a grand total of 15 minutes away from McMaster. The school’s proximity to home was cited as a reason for his commitment. But, he didn’t commit solely because it was convenient. “I chose to commit to McMaster University due to the fact that I know it has a great football team with a great variety of academic programs to choose from,” he said.

Bevilacqua, who is interested in taking labour studies, added that, “The coaches are great and very helpful not only on the field and in the weight room, but in the classroom as well, which is something I find very important.”

Bevilacqua played with the St. Thomas More Knights (Halton Wentworth Catholic Athletic Association) and the Hamilton Hurricanes (OFC). In his five-year career, the 6’0, 240lbs athlete has played as a defensive lineman, linebacker and fullback.

In high school, he won four city championships, three Golden Horseshoe Athletic Conference championships and three OFSAA bowl championships with the Knights. In 2016, he won a Steel City Bowl while on Team West and was the Knights’ defensive lineman MVP. He captured his second Steel City Bowl with Team West this past season. He was also the Knights’ co-defensive lineman MVP. The Knights were ranked as the top team in Canada by during their undefeated 2017 season.

Ryan Leder

Ryan Leder was also a member of the Knights in high school. The team had an undefeated season on route to a Golden Horseshoe Bowl victory at the 2017 OFSAA festival. In the past two years, the Knights have gone 20-1. The 6’1, 200lbs outside and middle linebacker also played with the Hamilton Varsity Tiger Cats (OPFL) in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. He will be taking Kinesiology.

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