PLAYER TO WATCH: York Lions’ Brett Hunchak

PLAYER TO WATCH: York Lions’ Brett Hunchak

Name: Brett Hunchak

University: York

Hometown: Calgary, Alta.

High school / Cegep: Notre Dame H.S.

Position: Quarterback

Academic program: Psychology

Year of eligibility: 2

Height: 6-3

Weight: 188

Key stats from 2015:

  • Appeared in 7 games as a rookie quarterback and started 5
  • 80-for-143 (55.9%) for 952 passing yards
  • 2 touchdowns and 7 interceptions

PROFILE 

Brett Hunchak came to York University with plenty of fanfare and there was little doubt he would one day take over the reigns of the Lions football program as its starting quarterback. His opportunity game in Week 4 of his rookie season when he was named the starter and now he enters his second year as the main man under centre. 

After an illustrious career at Calgary's Notre Dame High School that included an undefeated season and city and provincial championships in his senior year, the 6-foot-3, 188-pound pivot earned a spot on Canada's junior national team for the 2014 U19 world championships in Kuwait and helped lead the squad to the silver medal. While there, he got to know Lions head coach Warren Craney, also at the helm of Team Canada, and ultimately made the decision to head east for his varsity career along with his younger brother Colton, a receiver. 

"Brett is exactly who we thought he was when we recruited him last year," said Craney. "He already looks like a fifth-year quarterback and with his leadership he has made the York Lions his team. We can't wait to see what he does on the field this season." 

Hunchak showed tremendous promise immediately, including going 3-for-3 with a 55-yard touchdown pass on his first ever drive in the team's season opener, and four weeks into his rookie season the starting job was his. He finished with 952 yards and a 55.6 completion percentage and showed flashes of brilliance throughout the year, most notably in the season finale against nationally-ranked Queen's when he went 34-of-49 for 381 yards. 

He made such an impression that he was invited to the Calgary Stampeders training camp this past summer as part of the CIS-CFL quarterback development program and returns to York brimming with knowledge and confidence. 

"It was a great learning experience," Hunchak said about training with the pros. "I learned a ton about football from Bo Levi [Mitchell] and Drew [Tate] and some of the other veterans with regards to leadership. I saw firsthand the need to have a professional mentality with everything I do here at York, in football and school, to get where I want to be." 

Hunchak epitomizes what so many of the Lions are this year: a young, supremely talented football player looking to make his mark on the game and the league. The line-up is full of rookies and second- and third-year players who have been working hard day after day to elevate the program to the top of the OUA. As a captain, he and his fellow team leaders have instilled a new culture in everything the players do. 

"Our off-season mentality changed completely. There are a lot more leaders on the team, guys stepped up in the gym and there's definitely a professional, focused attitude in the locker room. We have a goal and we are going to reach it. We've prepared properly and we are ready. We are going to take it game by game and play by play, and we will surprise some people." 

That confidence, both in himself and his teammates, is one of the biggest changes seen in Hunchak from just one year ago. His five games as the starter last season showed him what he still needs to do to be great in the OUA and also gave Lions fans a taste of what is in store in the coming years. 

The program is in good hands with Hunchak as its starting quarterback and the sky is the limit as to what he can accomplish in his next four years at York.