September 16, 2009

WHSFL Hall of Fame - Class of 2009 

George Depres ’46, Nick Laping ’61 and ‘Mr Crusader’ Eddie Cass To Be Named to the Hall

These three new Crusaders inductees will join last year's inaugural class of Fr Barry Connolly SJ (Builder), Ron Latourelle '52 (Player) and Laurent Desjardins '41 (Player/Coach) in the Winnipeg High School Football Hall of Fame.

Also, of note are fellow 2009 inductees, Richard Bracken (Kelvin), and Bob Sokalski (Churchill), who both have strong ties to St Paul's and the Crusader Football Program.

Hall of Fame Games will be played at Canadinns Stadium on Thursday, 1 October (PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN THE AAA GAME TIME FROM 3:00 PM TO 7:30 PM) with the AAA Crusaders in a rematch of last year's league final against Churchill at 7:30 pm, with the AA Crusaders vs Crocus Plains at 5:15 pm. A reception for inductees, friends and family will be held during and after the second game - exact details to follow.

Call 831-2327 for more information about the Hall of Fame games and the induction ceremony. 

Eddie Cass – Builder

Recently returned from taking his law degree at Fordham University in New York City, a young Eddie Cass was called upon to establish and grow the athletics programs as St Paul’s first Director of Athletics in 1931, a position he held through 1946.

Eddie Cass was the founder of Crusader Football in 1931 and the co-founder of the Manitoba Schools Rugby League (which merged with the Winnipeg High School Football League in 1954). Under the leadership of dedicated coaches and the mentorship of Jesuits past and present and with the support of men like Eddie Cass, Crusader Football has established a history and tradition of excellence.

During his 15-year tenure as Director of Athletics, the Crusaders amassed nine MSRL League Championships and four Provincial Championships. Along the way, the tradition of former players returning to coach was initiated when inaugural Crusader team member Steven Shiska (Martin), returned to coach the 1936 team.

George Depres ’46 – Player/Coach

In the 1940s, the rivalry was intense between the Crusaders of the MSRL and the teams from Kelvin, Isaac Newton, St John’s Tech and the Andy Currie-coached Daniel McIntyre Maroons of the WHSFL. The Crusaders often faced either one of the teams in provincial title games throughout the decade.

George Depres had a hand in many of those epic clashes, first as a rookie player in the 1945 championship game, a 21-3 victory over St John’s. Then in 1946, Depres and backfield mate Paul Cholakis rough roughshod over Isaac Newton, but a late Newton 96-yard touchdown tied the game and in the rematch final Newton took the title.

After graduation, Depres continued to play local junior football with the Rods while also returning to coach the Crusaders to MSRL titles in 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1950. In each of those four seasons the Crusaders would play the Maroons in the provincial title game with the Crusaders taking the 1949 final.

Nick Laping ’61 – Player/Coach

The 1961 yearbook describes Grade 11 Crusader quarterback Nick Laping: “Nick Laping, the leader, a pinpoint passer at QB, never hampered by size or injury.” While this described his efforts on the ’61 Crusaders, they could also serve as an apt description of the life he led.

Considered a graduate after his grade 11 year, Nick was ineligible to play high school football for the Crusaders the next season. Rather than enter university directly, Nick transferred to Daniel McIntyre and played another memorable season for the Maroons.

Nick went on to quarterback and then coach the University of Manitoba Bisons. He led the Crusaders again as Head Coach from 1967-72. In later years, Nick would play a role in the growth of the Oak Park football program from 1991-1995. The annual regular season St Paul’s/Oak Park game has been renamed the Nick Laping Classic in honour of his contributions to both programs.