WNY Athletics

Four Crusaders Sign NLI’s to Play Football at the Collegiate Level

Photo Credit: Keith McShea

Buffalo, NY – Canisius High School held a signing ceremony Tuesday morning for eight student athletes committed to playing sports collegiately in the fall.

The ceremony was held in a packed Brady Conference Room that included the honorees, administration and faculty members, proud parents, family members, some local media and dozens of classmates.

Headlining Tuesday’s signings were All-WNY football players in 2021 Trench Trophy winner Gavin Susfolk and Monsignor Martin Athletic Association Co-MVP Tyler Baker.

Susfolk transferred to Canisius his junior year thanks to the urging of his now very good friend and former Crusader Malachi Charleston (’21). Baker spent all four high school years at Canisius and developed into one of the premier quarterbacks in WNY, thanks in large part to the guidance of Jim Kubiak now at Hilbert College.

Susfolk will attend Sacred Heart University located in Fairfield, CT and join a program that loves to run the football. “Joe Dixon (Canisius ’21) took me around and showed me the campus,” Susfolk said. “It really seemed like a great fit for me and I like the fact that they run the NEC (Northeast Conference). Nicknamed the Pioneers, SHU finished the past season 6-1 in conference play and 8-4 overall.

Baker committed to play at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD after initially agreeing with the University of Rhode Island. “It’s crazy how things work out, but the opportunity to play for a program like this, I couldn’t pass it up,” Baker said on Tuesday. “It’s big time college football, how could I say no?”

Last summer Baker attended a camp hosted by Navy but at the time he was competing with other attendees, he was suffering through a lower leg injury that hampered his showing. He was not offered anything at the time but Navy kept tabs on Baker and eventually made their move last month. Baker will first spend a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, RI before making the move to Annapolis.

A three-year varsity starter, Baker will always be remembered, for leading the Crusaders to a Catholic School state championship victory after tossing a game winning touchdown against Cardinal Hayes.

Other football commits were Canadian born Josh Fillion and Niagara Falls resident Rod Baker. Fillion a wide receiver will attend New Hampshire University while Baker is heading to Mercyhurst.

Fillion always wanted to play football in the United States, even though his Father was a professional hockey player. “I knew growing up that football was what I wanted to do,” Fillion said. “I worked out with Christian Veilleux who played here and now at Penn State and that’s how I found coach Rich Robbins and we connected that way.” Fillion credits the former Crusaders coach for luring him to Canisius and helping mold him into the player he is today.

Baker liked what he saw at Canisuis the minute he first stepped on campus. “I knew this was the way,” Baker said. “Canisius sends a lot of kids off to college for athletics and I felt like I needed to be here. There were some little league players I grew up with and I saw they came here. I worked out with Tyler (Baker) and I loved the whole family atmosphere they had here.”

In regards to Mercyhurst, Baker wanted to play close to home so his family could still travel to see him play and there were former teammates there that he could lean on, such as CJ Ozolins (’20) and David Medley (’21). “They (Mercyhurst coaching staff) like me at running back, like my size.”

Other Crusaders signing Tuesday were Peter Spira (rowing) Naval Academy, twin brothers Tyler and Zachary Siwiec (crew) Fairfield University and Sean Keane (lacrosse) John Carroll University.


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