Dave Sapunjis - Wide Receiver - 1990-96 - University of Western
Dave Sapunjis was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. Sapunjis attended the University of Western from 1986-89. He started his collegiate career as primarily a kick returner he had 525 punt return yards in 1986 to lead the OUA. His collegiate career culminated in a Vanier Cup championship 35-10 over Saskatchewan in 1989 at Skydome. Sapunjis was drafted by Calgary in the 1st round 5th overall in the 1990 amateur draft. Sapunjis excelled on special teams over his first two seasons leading the league in special team tackles in 1991. Calgary lost the 1991 Grey Cup to the powerhouse Toronto Argonauts but Sapunjis served notice he was an up and coming talent being named the games top Canadian.
In 1992 Sapunjis broke out in a big way; timed with the arrival of Doug Flutie in Calgary, Dave had 1,317 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns. Calgary won the Grey Cup in 1992 over Winnipeg 24-10. Sapunjis was named the games top Canadian for a second time, this time in victory.
In 1993 Sapunjis became the fist Canadian-born player in league history to have 100 catches with 103. He added 1,484 yard receiving to lead the entire league. He tied for the league lead with 15 touchdowns. The 1993 season ended in disappointment for Calgary as they lost the Western final to the underdog Eskimos 29-15 in frigid conditions at McMahon stadium. Dave was injured for part of the 1994 season missing 6 games, it would be the only time in his career he would miss action due to injury.
Sapunjis returned with a vengeance in 1995 besting his 103 catches of 1993 with 111 in '95 for 1,665 yards still a record for non-imports. Dave's incredible season set the benchmark for all future non-import receivers to measure themselves. He was named the only ever Most Outstanding Player of the Northern Division (the division only existed in 1995). Sapunjis
lost out on the league Most Outstanding Player award to Baltimore's Mike Pringle. Pringle's Baltimore team also defeated Sapunjis and the Stampeders in the 1995 Grey Cup at Regina 37-20. Sapunjis was not to blame for the loss with 8 catches for 113 yards. Sapunjis was named the games Most Outstanding Canadian for a third and final time in his career.
Doug Flutie moved onto the Toronto Argonauts in 1996 and Jeff Garcia assumed the full-time quarterbacking duties for Calgary. In what would be his final season in the league Sapunjis had 1,075 yards receiving and 8 touchdowns. Dave Sapunjis announced his retirement on April 3, 1997. Although his career was brief he left his mark on some dominant offensive teams for Calgary in the 1990's. Sapunjis' totals as a Canadian raised and schooled athlete prove the quality of athlete that Canadian University football can produce. Dave Sapunjis was an athlete with world-class talent who proved his ability over seven seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Dave Sapunjis now a part owner of Calgary was inducted onto the Stampeder Wall of Honour in 2005.
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