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It was easy for their names to get lost in the shuffle in what was a frantic first few hours of free agent frenzy, but linebacker Mitch Barnett and defensive back Dominique Termansen could represent a couple important pieces to the Lions’ Canadian puzzle. It has been more than two weeks since they put pen to paper but the North Vancouver natives and members of the 2015 UBC Thunderbirds Vanier Cup winning team haven’t stopped smiling.
Barnett spent the last two seasons as a special teams force in Hamilton, racking up ten tackles in 2017. His bloodlines suggest he is right where he should be: Mitch’s Dad Bruce is a former Lions’ defensive back and was part of the 1985 Grey Cup championship squad eight years before his son was even born.
“I watched the VHS tape of that Grey Cup game,” laughed the younger Barnett.
“My dad was excited when I signed but my mom was actually more excited because she just likes having me home. My grandparents are excited too because they will be able to come to more of my games.”
Termansen suited up for 27 games in Montreal and soaked in some knowledge from some of their better veterans on defence, including John Bowman and the ‘angry bird’ Kyries Hebert. Termansen says Hebert provides the perfect template for any young DB breaking into the pros.
“For me, he’s a leader,” explained Termansen.
“Every day you see him going into the weight room. Whether it’s there or the meeting room he is always the first one in, last one out, the same with Bowman. That’s something I am trying to bring into this culture here if it isn’t already.”
The pair also has a history together that predates their magical year at the Point Grey campus where they helped engineer one
of the best turnaround stories in CIS history. Prior to that, they were bitter high school rivals, Barnett with the Handsworth Royals and Termansen with the Carson Graham Eagles. Barnett recalls one particular play in the Buchanan Bowl, an annual meeting to decide bragging rights for North Vancouver.
“I had one good run,” recalled the former Royal.
“It was a reverse to the slotback/tight end type and I was that guy. I think we fooled pretty much everyone on Carson Graham’s defence except Termansen. I had one guy to beat before I scored and it was Dom. He tackled me. It was a pretty nice play.”
“In high school, it’s always about what transpired after the game,” added Termansen.
“So were we going to bring the Buchanan Bowl to Handsworth or are they going to be bringing the trophy to our place? I think with the older generations there is a lot more animosity between Carson and Handsworth kids. I also grew up in the Handsworth catchment area so have always had a lot of close friends that went there.”
“He’s a traitor,” laughed Barnett.
Old rivalries in the rearview mirror, the two are now focused intently on being ready for training camp and not only competing for spots on the defence but helping revive a special teams unit that could use a bit of a kick start in 2018.
Both feel they fit the mould. Barnett is can’t wait to be reunited with one of his favourite coaches from Steeltown.
“I’m excited to be back with Jeff Reinebold. I had him there my first year and he brings a lot of passion to the game of football,” explained Barnett.
“He’s just a great motivator. The game is everything to him. He expects the best out of you and I think a lot of people will rise to that challenge. When they do, great things happen.”
The chance to play indoors or with the roof open was also another thing that attracted both men to coming home. Not to mention, the chemistry that is already starting to forge in the weight room, nine weeks before veterans report to Kamloops for training camp.
“This locker room culture is something special and I feel right at home already,” said Termansen.
“Everybody has welcomed us with open arms and I’m already hanging out with some of the guys outside the facility so that’s pretty cool. One of my new workout buddies is Anthony Thompson. He was in my position group in the combine so we had a bit of a rapport going since day one. I look forward to playing with these guys in the secondary and having a cohesive and communicative unit.”
From rivals on the North Shore to teammates working toward a common goal in the den, the path for two intriguing Canadians now has one clear end goal in mind.