Western makes early splash with local, provincial recruits (VIDEO)

London and Niagara recruits join OUA team’s 2016 class.

Western Mustangs will have strong local presence in their 2016 recruitment class.

This past weekend, the Mustangs officially introduced the newest members of their football program during halftime of the team’s 63-19 victory over the Ottawa Gee-Gees at TD Waterhouse Stadium in London, Ontario.

Six recruits are from London while the other is from the Niagara region. All of them will join the team for the 2016 OUA season.

“We’re very excited to announce the addition of seven recruits to the Western Mustangs family,” commented Mustangs Head Coach Greg Marshall.  “One of our priorities in recruiting is making sure we do a great job securing top talent from the city of London.”

Western Mustangs commits 3


Shoring up top recruits from London is something the Mustangs emphasized in this class as the newest additions come from three perennial powerhouses in the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA) – Catholic Central Crusaders, St Thomas Aquinas Flames and 2014 OFSAA Bowl Champions AB Lucas Vikings.

“London is a hot bed for football talent, and landing the top talent from the region is critical to our football program,” expressed Mustangs Recruiting Coordinator Tom Flaxman.

The following are the newest additions to the Mustangs for the 2016 season:

Matt Bettencourt 1


The 6’2, 275 pound offensive lineman began his gridiron career at the age of seven with the Clarke Road Mustangs of the London Minor Football Association (LMFA). After a brief stint there, Bettencourt spent two seasons with the LMFA’s Forest City Thunderbirds.

Since 2011, Bettencourt has suited up for the London Jr Mustangs of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL).  During his time there, the offensive lineman helped the Mustangs win the OVFL Junior Varsity Championship.

Currently, he is completing his final season with the Catholic Central (CCH) Crusaders of the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA).

Matt Bettencourt 2

Through his coaching stint as Offensive Coordinator of the Jr. Mustangs, Flaxman knows how much an asset Bettencourt will be to the CIS team.

“Matt comes to us from London CCH one of the top programs in the city,” said the Mustangs Recruiting Coordinator.  “I had a chance to work with Matt with the Jr. Stangs; he is extremely coachable and is a tremendous leader.”

“He was an integral part of one of the top o-lines in the province this summer.”

Matt Bettencourt 3

For his part, it is a dream realized for Bettencourt.  Moreover, he felt that the Mustangs were the perfect fit for him from a football standpoint.

“Growing up in London and being exposed to our UWO Mustangs, I had always dreamed of wearing the real purple and becoming a UWO Mustang,” elaborated the lineman.  “As I developed as a football player, I learned what type of player I was and what kind of game/team style I liked.”

“Western has that style of football I like which is old school style, smash mouth type of football.”

Matt Bettencourt 4

The strength and reputation of the coaching staff tipped the scale in Western’s favour.  His firsthand experience of working with a few of the coaches during his gridiron career forged a positive relationship that he wanted to extend at the CIS level.

“Also, the coaches played a big part in my decision, the Circelli family being the most influential in my football career,” added Bettencourt.  “Coach Jean-Paul [Circelli], Coach Joe [Circelli] and Coach Mike [Circelli] have coached me since the beginning with various camps, with CCH football and with Jr. Mustangs”

“I guess as well when there is a leader like Coach Marshall, you know you’re signing up with a successful program so I was an easy decision to make.”

Ultimately, he is thrilled to be part of the Mustang fold and represent his hometown in the process.

“All in all, I couldn’t go wrong choosing Western, top school academically, great football program, great coaches and all in my backyard,” expressed Bettencourt.  “I hope that I will make the UWO Mustang Football program proud and I am grateful to have this opportunity!”

Cam Bailey 1


The 6’4, 240 pound defensive end helped the AB Lucas Vikings to the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA), Western Ontario Secondary School Athletic Association (WOSSAA) Championships as well as OFSAA Bowl Festival victories in 2014.

This past summer, Bailey also suited up for the London Jr. Mustangs of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL). During the 2014 season, he recorded eight sacks

“Cam is one of the top athletes in the city, has a great motor and is a tremendous pass rusher,” assessed Flaxman.  “Cam is a great addition to our locker room and we expect him to make an impact early in his career.”

Cam Bailey 2

Proximity and strength of the coaching staff were among the decisive factors for Bailey.  He is ecstatic to have the chance to live out his childhood dream on the CIS stage.

“It is my hometown and I have always wanted to play for Western since I’ve started playing football,” commented the defensive end.  “It was nice to get coached by Coach Tom Flaxman and Coach Josh Malekzadeh through the Jr. Mustangs to really get a feel for what kind of coaches they are and really get to know them.”

With a tremendous academic and gridiron tradition, Bailey can’t wait to begin the next phase of his career on and off the field.

“Overall the school just has a great environment,” explained the defensive standout.  “Western is a great opportunity for me on and off the field as a student and an athlete.”

“Western always has a great team and it is very special to be a part of this organization. I am very excited just to get started with the team.”

Jack Kys 1


Among the teams the 6’4, 190 pound receiver has played for include St. Thomas Aquinas Flames of the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA) and Forest City Thunderbirds of the Ontario Football Conference (OFC).

Jack Kys 3

Furthermore, Kys participated in the Ontario Prospects Challenge (OPC) for the past two years (2014, 2015).

“Jack joins our football program from St. Thomas Aquinas (STA), one of the traditional powers in London high school football,” expressed Flaxman.  “Jack plays quarterback for STA, but will play wide receiver for the Mustangs, a position he excelled at with the Forrest City Thunderbirds.”

“Jack is a great leader, great athlete, and will be a great addition to our locker room.”

Jack Kys 2

The London offensive standout was hooked instantaneously on the Mustangs from the moment he stepped foot onto the campus on an official visit. Overall, the CIS school provides the best of both worlds for Kys.

“I chose Western because of its history and tradition of being a football powerhouse and its great academics,” said Kys.  “From my first visit there and meeting all the coaches and some players, I knew that Western was best place for me.”

“I’m pumped for the 2016 season and can’t wait to start working with the team.”

Luke Kelch 1


The 6’2, 210 pound linebacker has suited up for the London Jr. Mustangs of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) and St. Thomas Aquinas Flames of the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA).

In 2014, Kelch amassed 60 tackles and recorded 5.5 sacks during his season with the Jr. Mustangs.

Luke Kelch 2

“Luke was an integral part of the London Jr. Mustang defence this past season, and plays a crucial role on the STA defence,” reflected Flaxman.  “Luke is a great athlete.”

“He can play multiple positions on defence and is an excellent special teams player.”

Luke Kelch 3

For his part, the Mustangs provided Kelch such a perfect opportunity that he could not pass it up.

“I really liked how Western has one of the best combinations of academics and great football,” offered the linebacker.  “To make it even better the university is 10 minutes from my house.”

“As well, all of the alumni at my high school (St Thomas Aquinas) that has succeeded at Western. Overall, it had the best combination of what I was looking for which made my decision quite easy.”

Mark Shelley 2


For the 6’1, 220 pound linebacker, being part of an environment that has played an intimate role in his life since his childhood is special.

“Western being my hometown university, I was always interested in going to school there,” recalled Shelley.  “Growing up in London and watching the Mustangs play ball was always a fun time.”

“There is a great atmosphere at TD Stadium and I always looked forward to playing high school or summer football games there. When I began the recruiting process and was contacted by Western, it was a very exciting thought that I could be playing on that field as a Western Mustang.”

Mark Shelley 3

Once he arrived for his official visits, there was no doubt where he wanted to begin his CIS career.

“After visiting and meeting with the coaches and working out with the strength/conditioning coach, I was quite sure Western was the place for me,” added the defensive standout.  “They were very welcoming and I felt right at home.”

“I already knew some players and coaches from playing for the London Junior Mustangs, which also made me feel very comfortable.”

Mark Shelley 1

Shelley, who was born in Dublin, Ireland, has played for both St. Thomas Aquinas Flames of the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA) and London Jr. Mustangs of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL).

“Mark is a great football player,” commented Flaxman.  “He’s a tough physical player with a relentless work ethic.”

“Mark is a great addition to our football family. He a leader and a worker and has tremendous character.”

Mark Shelley 4

With his commitment, it is not lost on Shelley all the individuals who have been there to support and encourage him in his quest to succeed in his gridiron career.  He is looking forward to playing in front of them at the CIS level in London.

“I am so thankful for the many people that have helped me get to where I am in my football career,” expressed Shelley. “I have been blessed with great coaches in both high school and summer football and would like to thank them all for everything.”

“I can’t wait to get started and do what I can to help the Mustangs win.”

Martin Ortega 1


During his career, the 6’3, 260 pound offensive/defensive lineman has suited up for both the Catholic Central Crusaders of the Thames Valley Regional Athletic Association (TVRAA) and London Jr. Mustangs of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL).

Not only is it a perfect situation for him, but the chance to be instructed with gridiron mentors excites Ortega.

“Coach Mike Circelli and Coach JP Circelli are both coaches at Western and they also are roots to the tradition of the football program at my high school, CCH,” elaborated the lineman.  “That was huge because I idol them so much and they both were people even before I had thoughts of university football that told me of how high my potential could be in this game.”

Martin Ortega 3

Additionally, there were a couple of other key reasons Ortega chose the Mustangs.

“Another huge factor was the team atmosphere, having some of my best friends have older siblings on the team; even some of my own friends be on the team is something pretty cool because whenever you see them you can just say “what’s up” and they’re aware of who you are and you’re not a stranger to them either,” added Ortega, who was born in Scarborough but raised in London.  “Finally and most importantly was academics, Western is a great school and I hope that I can succeed in the classroom and get myself a degree.”

“Overall there were so many reasons why I should go to western and the opportunity was there so I felt blessed to take it.”

Martin Ortega 2

Equally, the Mustangs can’t wait to have the lineman in the fold because of the potential impact he will have on the line of scrimmage.

“Martin is a tough and athletic lineman from Catholic Central here in London,” described Flaxman.  “He was also a critical member of the London Jr. Stangs.”

“Martin is going to start out as an offensive lineman for us. We feel that his athletic ability makes him a great fit in our scheme”

With his commitment, Ortega appreciates the encouragement which has been a guiding force in his success on the gridiron.

“A huge shout out to everyone that has supported me because without them I would not be at the place I am today and I’m so grateful for them,” said the lineman.

Tanner Geddes 1


Among the teams the 6’4, 280 pound offensive lineman from Thorold, Ontario has played for include Niagara Spears of the Ontario Varsity Football League (OVFL) and Denis Morris Redmen of the Niagara Region High School Athletic Association (NRHSAA).

“Tanner had a great season with Niagara Spears this past summer,” commented Flaxman.  “We know he comes from a great program in Niagara with a great culture.”

“Tanner is a big strong offensive lineman and already has great technique. He’s an excellent student and will fit in well in locker room.”

Overall, Geddes was comfortable, yet impressed with the OUA team when he took in his official visit to the school.

“I think some of the big factors as to why I committed to Western is that it is really one big family,” expressed the lineman.  “They have made me feel like a priority and a member of their family since I stepped foot on campus.”

“They also have a great alumni program and an amazing coaching staff. They have an amazing campus; it is a place that many people would love to be for the next four to five years. The program itself is amazing, the staff, players, trainers, volunteers, everything. The work ethic is second to none, and the family environment is just amazing.”

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