"Former McGill captain Mathieu Darche will be wearing No. 21 on the Oct. 31 TSN broadcast of the Tampa-New Jersey game... It will mark his first time on national TV in Canada... Darche, who played for the Redmen from 1996 to 2000, was advised on Oct. 26 by Lightning GM Jay Feaster, that he can start looking for a house, which means he has finally made an NHL roster from the start of a season."
-- Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics press release

It's been a long time coming, well worth the wait for Mathieu Darche, the only four-year CIS player now playing in the NHL. The Lightning's commitment to their big-ticket stars has created a need for economy-priced players like him to step in, and by the looks of it he's made the most of an opportunity that keeps hundreds of career minor leaguers and European-based pros going.

Hey, the Lightning even seem to realize when you have a lot of home games early in the season, it's good idea to win them. Not that I'm referring to a certain team whose uniforms also contain blue and white.

(Yes, a post about a former Redmen star vreferenced a Tragically Hip song.... the Queen's-McGill rivalry knows no bounds.)

(As pointed out in the comments, Atlanta Thrashers' Steve Rucchin and Columbus Blue Jackets' Jody Shelley played in the CIS, but each did so for only one season. Good catch, GoldenGuy.)

Just a quick post here to get a link up to my weekly CIS piece over at The Globe and Mail.

It seems like a no-brainer to point out the fact Laval's lost just four games in the past five years (51-4) heading into next week's semi-final games, and with a path that goes through the AUS this season in the Uteck Bowl, everyone's expecting the Rouge et Or to be in Toronto come Nov. 23:
"We kind of have to look after our own backyard first, but we are very aware of Laval," Regina Rams coach Frank McCrystal said. "They're someone that you know that if you want to get to the Vanier Cup, if you want to win a Vanier Cup, you're going to have to face."
I'll do my best to have more up here tomorrow, time permitting.
Bishop's Jamall Lee and Ottawa's Josh Sacobie are pretty much 1 and 1-A for the Hec Crighton Trophy.

The "career award" argument says Sacobie, by a wide margin over Lee, a third-year guy. He's the standout senior quarterback for an 8-0 team and this has been his best season.

Lee might have it on stats, but the margin is much smaller. Orville's offspring finished with 1,464 yards, the highest total in CIS history ever recorded by someone not named Éric Lapointe or Jesse Lumsden. Sacobie has the gaudy numbers too, finishing second in the CIS in passing yards (despite rarely playing in the fourth quarter and sitting out the entire second half of Ottawa's last game vs. Windsor) while putting up a 21-to-4 TD-to-interception ratio.

So Sacobie is my pick; it would be good to see someone from outside the OUA win, but Ottawa is a border town. Lee will probably have to settle for having the most prolific season by a running back who didn't win the Hec Crighton.

Either way, there will be some proud people in Lennoxville, Que., where Lee stars for the Bishop's Gaiters. Sacobie played two CEGEP seasons there with the Champlain Cougars; several of his teammates now play with Lee.
Sundays are always a mad scramble for me, trying to track down CIS coaches and put together a preview for the coming week. With 15 teams set to start the conference semi-finals next weekend, I'm busier than usual.

In any event, I've managed to talk to Ottawa's Denis Piche and Regina's Frank McCrystal so far, and I'll have their and other coaches' thoughts here for tomorrow.

It's also the final week for the CIS Top 10, so you've got one last chance to influence my voting. Here's what I'm thinking at the moment:
  1. Laval
  2. Ottawa
  3. Manitoba
  4. Saint Mary's
  5. Laurier
  6. Regina
  7. Saskatchewan
  8. Concordia
  9. Guelph
  10. Bishop's
A tough one at the bottom end there, what with Queen's dropping a home playoff game in the first round.

Playoff match-ups:
Acadia @ St. FX
Saint Mary's (bye)

Montreal @ Laval
Bishop's @ Concordia

Western @ Ottawa
Guelph @ Laurier

Calgary @ Manitoba
Saskatchewan @ Regina

A ton of terrific games there, and the two in CanWest should be barn burners. I'm also interested to see if Western/Guelph can pull off another upset against the OUA's best.

By gar, it's been a while since Guelph won a post-seeason game, prevailing 25-21 over McMaster on a Justin Dunk touchdown scramble with 33 seconds left. Up by three in the endgame, Mac coach Stefan Ptaszek elected to punt into the wind from his own 11-yard line rather than give up a safety and trust the defence to keep the Gryphons out of field-goal range for Rob Maver. It backfired with a 14-yard punt that set Guelph at the 25.

Reading in the Toronto Star that Mac had a crowd of 1,000 people for a home playoff game doesn't square with the image most people have of Hamilton . It generally is viewed as city that loves football and supports all the Marauders teams very well. Did they get spoiled rotten by that four-year Yates Cup repeat? The bottom line is that Stefan Ptaszek, whose career hasn't started well with successive quarter-final playoff losses at home, is a good coach and brings an outlook, especially on offence, that could give the Marauders a better shot at the Vanier Cup than they ever did in the Greg Marshall years.

(UPDATE: One of our commenters, GoldenGuy, posted average reported attendance for CIS schools over at cisfootball.org. McMaster was the lone OUA school whose figures weren't available.

Anyone who's familiar with Ottawa's apathy toward spectator sports will not be surprised to learn what unbeaten team had a smaller average crowd than the U of T.)

Thoughts on Western's quarter-final win over Queen's have been posted over at Out of Left Field, if you're into that sort thing. The Mustangs were full value for playing a very good road game, running 76 offensive plays to Queen's 52. The blocking back/tight end types such as Brad Barkauskas and Justin Henri did yeoman's work helping move the pile (Randy McAuley ran 38 times for 161 yards) and keeping Western in manageable down-and-distance. Matt Carapella, who was out injured during Western's 0-4 start, played very well, and the 'Stangs defence held on well enough.

It was just too easy for Mike Faulds, who threw 24 times for 253 yards with just one interception against a Gaels secondary that was gun-shy and backing off a step after some early, questionable pass interference flags. Not to take anything away from Western, but the officiating in this game had to be seen to be believed.

Saturday was the last game at the mike for the long-time Richardson Stadium P.A. announcer, Doug Jeffries, who's stepping aside after 27 seasons. The P.A. guy often just adds to the white noise, but Jeffries always rewarded you for paying attention. When he would intone, "Elsewhere in the OUA..." (or O-QIFC) to give out-of-town scores, you perked up to hear how he would say the scores -- taking pregnant pauses before giving the second total in a blowout, or putting the losing team first just as a tease.

One day last year, when U of T was playing Waterloo and there was a chance the Blues would end The Streak, he came on, "Elsewhere in the OUA... a final score.... the University of Toronto 25... Waterloo 28." He'll be missed.


Hands up, anyone who ever thought you'd see a Regina-Saskatchewan game where it was the Huskies who got outrushed by a factor of two and threw 47 passes. (Liars.) Regina had 24 points off turnovers in a 34-31 win, securing home field for a rematch in the Can West semi-final next Friday at Taylor Field.

It's entirely reasonable to believe coach Brian Towriss' Huskies will be a different team in the post-season, since they have done it so often through the years. Western already showed being turnover- and penalty-prone is not necessarily a permanent condition. The Huskies' Lawrence Nixon went the distance Saturday despite throwing four INTs. Does that mean he's the Huskies QB for next week no matter what?

The crazy notion that coach Blake Nill can take his Calgary Dinos to Winnipeg next week and beat out the Manitoba Bisons in the Canada West has proven harder to perish than the jingle from a Mini-Wheats commercial.

The Dinos, led by Anthony Woodson's 245 rushing yards (out of a total of 387), blew out UBC 41-23 to get the conference's final playoff berth. Six weeks ago, the young Dinos led the Bisons through three quarters on the road but was done in by a total lack of a passing game that couldn't help them keep the clock moving. (Calgary's defence was on the field for 81 plays that afternoon, including 58 rush attempts.)

Calgary's defence is maturing and has a pretty good co-ordinator in John Stevens, who having steered St. FX to the Vanier Cup as a head coach in 1996, knows something about winning as a playoff underdog. Manitoba is very good, but there's a nagging little voice saying don't be surprised if the Dinos win.


The role reversal of Bishop's (1-7 to 5-3) and McGill (4-4 to 0-8) is the only real change in the conference from 2006. It does get hard to talk about the Laval and other assorted attractions conference.

Small consolation for Sherbrooke, who missed the playoffs with a 4-4 record: Samuel Giguère overcame a 64-yard deficit to win the Quebec receiving title, finishing with 871 after a 138-yard day in a 28-10 win over McGill. It was a team effort for the Vert et Or, since their defence had to keep McGill's Erik Galas and Charles-Antoine Sinotte under 50 apiece. Save for a blowout loss at Laval, Giguère has pretty much been productive each week.


Yes, St. FX earning home field for the semi-final against Acadia comes a surprise. It's a step forward for the X-Men, who ran all over the Axemen in a 42-20 win. James Green had 259 yards along the ground while Jonathan Hood tore off a 101-yard punt-return TD.

Here's a stat that sums up Acadia's youth and lack of depth: Green was the third back this season to go over 200 yards against them. Hood's score was the third 100-plus-yard TD the Axemen have allowed this season. They're a snakebitten team.

Someone who was there would have to do justice to Saint Mary's 55-52 win over Mount Allison on Friday -- are they done scoring touchdowns yet? It was a nothing game in the standings, but sometimes those are the most fun. Kelly Hughes and the Mounties trailed 35-0, 45-15 and 52-31, but made a game of it, with Gary Ross scoring touchdowns of 104 and 89 yards, while two-way player Bradley Daye scored once on offence and once and D..

Saint Mary's Erik Glavic is the obvious pick as the Atlantic's Hec Crighton nominee, but has anyone seen anything like Ross' 600-600-600 season? He had more than 600 yards apiece as a receiver, punt and kickoff returner, averaged 19 yards a touch and had four return touchdowns. Great years by quarterbacks of 7-1 teams come and go... Ross' versatility might never be seen again.
Quick note: I'll be a panelist today at 4 p.m. on Queen's community/campus station CFRC 101.9 FM's afternoon sports show with Tyler King and Brendan McNamara, talking about the Golden Gaels-Western Mustangs OUA quarter-final.

The show is also available on the web at cfrc.ca.
This might be the most brutally honest game preview ever posted on a collegiate football team's official website... one can only imagine the Simon Fraser Clan coaches and players think about this. Some must be just sideways over this. It's a nothing game for the winless Clan vs. the unbeaten Manitoba Bisons, sure, but

"It's tough to put a positive spin on this final game of the year. On top of it all, the Bisons won the two previous meetings against the Clan by a combined score of 140-15.

"...The basic fundamentals of football are being forgotten by SFU on the field. Cornerbacks are being run off their routes and not paying attention to the play, safeties are colliding with halfbacks instead of breaking up passing plays, receivers are running to incorrect spots on the field, and offensive lines are looking like Swiss cheese to opposing pass rushers."

"...If the Bisons show up, they win. It’s that simple."

It would be great to know what brought this on... sure there is frustration around the Simon Fraser football program, which is coming up on back-to-back 0-8 seasons, but usually it's kept out of the public realm.

Here's the Top 10 passers in the CIS, as listed by passing yards:

  1. Matt Connell, McGill
  2. Josh Sacobie, Ottawa
  3. Michael Faulds, Western
  4. Dan Brannagan, Queen's
  5. Teale Orban, Regina
  6. J.P. Shoiry, Sherbrooke
  7. Adam Archibald, McMaster
  8. Quade Armstrong, Alberta
  9. Kelly Hughes, Mount Allison
  10. Justin Dunk, Guelph

Over at cisfootball.org, there's a post that references a newspaper story from this week that refers to Faulds and Brannagan, whose Western's and Queen's teams meet in the playoffs this weekend, being "ranked No. 3-4 in the nation in passing." It's understandable someone in the newspaper world might say that if they just had time for a quick check of the stats and don't follow CIS football too closely. However, seeing Faulds and Brannagan side-by-side illustrates the limits of that view.

The premier stat, at least in the NFL, is yards per pass; about 80 per cent of the time, whoever comes out ahead in this comes out ahead on the scoreboard. What's really needed is something that:
  • Shows average yards per pass but penalizes for sacks and interceptions (i.e.., "disaster plays);
  • Puts quarterbacks in a good team/bad team context, since play-calling, strategy and risk-taking is always dictated by the score;
  • puts it in a league context.

What this hopefully does is go from passing to quarterbacking... what team manages the ball best, as it applies to their starting quarterbacks?

Step 1 is ranking the 27 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 95 passes this fall by yards per pass, but with a twist: All the sack yardage has been subtracted, along with 50 yards per interception. That seems to be an accurate representation how much a pick costs a team in field position and points scored. Let's call it "adjusted" yards per pass.

The basic equation is:
[Passing yards — sack yardage — 18,468 -(interceptions x 50)] / attempts

All the QBs from good teams (i.e., at least a .500 record) go in one group, while all those from the the not-so-good teams go in a second group. This isolates better on QB performance, and besides, do we have to do math to know the Ottawa Gee-Gees'Josh Sacobie has had a better season than the U of T QBs?

  1. Josh Sacobie, Ottawa: 8.58 (238 attempts)
  2. Adam Archibald, McMaster: 8.44 (196 attempts)
  3. Dan Brannagan, Queen's: 7.84
  4. Erik Glavic, Saint Mary's: 6.89
  5. Bret Thompson, Saskatchewan: 6.84
  6. John Makie, Manitoba: 6.45
  7. Teale Orban, Regina: 6.41
  8. Jesse Andrews, Bishop's: 6.36
  9. Ian Noble, Laurier: 6.31
  10. Michael Faulds, Western: 4.70
  11. Justin Dunk, Guelph: 4.62
  12. Marc-Olivier Brouillette, Montreal: 4.04
  13. Keith Lockwood, Acadia: 3.99

Laval's Benoît Groulx (87 attempts) isn't listed, but for argument's sake, his adjusted yards per pass is 8.86.

Concordia and Calgary, which have had quarterback injuries and have run-oriented offences, don't have anyone listed. The Saskatchewan Huskies' Lawrence Nixon (79 attempts) also doesn't have enough attempts to be considered, but he's averaged 7.67 adjusted yards despite being sacked 11 times in his three starts.

The difference between Brannagan and Faulds, though, in this measure, is, take it away Tim Micallef, maaaaaaassssive.

Queen's doesn't pass as much as the Mustangs do, and while Brannagan's tendency to hang on the ball an extra second does mean they give up sacks (he's been dropped 19 times), he has a great "raw" yards per pass and doesn't throw interceptions (just 6 to Faulds' 15).

The "struggling team" quarterbacks:
  1. J.P. Shoiry, Sherbrooke: 6.96
  2. Matt Connell, McGill: 4.93
  3. Quade Armstrong, Alberta: 4.35
  4. Steve Snyder, St. FX: 4.23
  5. Kelly Hughes, Mount Allison: 3.86
  6. Doug Goldsby, UBC: 3.79
  7. Jason Marshall, Simon Fraser: 3.61
  8. Luke Balch, Waterloo: 3.40
  9. David Hamilton, Toronto: 3.24
  10. Evan Martin, Waterloo: 2.84
  11. Michael Hyatt, York: 2.82
  12. Dan Lumley, Windsor: 2.60
  13. Marc McVeigh, UBC: 1.99
  14. Andrew Gillis, Toronto: 1.80

Shoiry could go in either group since 3-4 Sherbrooke is still alive for a Québec conference playoff berth (they need to win at McGill and have Montréal lose at Bishop's on Saturday). Again, with the exception of Shoiry, the gap between Matt Connell and the rest of the pack really shows how good he has been in a trying situation for McGill this season. His overall rate is reined in by McGill's lack of a running game or a defence.

The next step is converting this to a league context, but it will have to wait till later tonight.
Mike Hogan, host of The FAN 590's mid-morning show The Bullpen in Toronto, will do the play-by-play for the Vanier Cup game on Nov. 23 at the Rogers Centre. Long-time voice of the Argos Pete Martin, who was an analyst for the CFL team's radio broadcasts for so many years, will do colour commentary.

No irony here, though: Hogan's guest today on his Road To The Vanier Cup segment was former McMaster great, Hamilton Tiger-Cats tailback Jesse Lumsden. He's a big name, but didn't Jesse's team typically get off said road one exit before the Vanier Cup? Just saying.
Major accolades are due to the cadets at Royal Military College -- the Paladins women's soccer team scored their first playoff win in the program's four-year history yesterday, knocking off Queen's 2-0 in an OUA first-round game in what can only be called a massive upset.

Heather MacLellan (from Kingston!) and Melanie Ross scored the goals, while 'keeper Erica Pessotto came up with a big save right before intermission when the score was 0-0 (none of that nil-nil stuff here). The Paladins the first CIS women's team in school history to reach the playoffs, let alone win a post-season game. It's the first playoff win for any RMC team since 2001. Not to write them off for the OUA quarter-final against No. 1-ranked Ottawa on Saturday, but this probably was the national championship for coach Chad Beaulieu's program.

The RMC players are cadets and students first; sports is not a high priority even by CIS standards. Just yesterday, in fact, the Paladins men's basketball team had to call off a pre-season trip to Winnipeg due to commitments on campus. So a win like this is big.

Paladins stun Gaels; RMC ousts last year's national silver medallists (Brock Harrison, Kingston Whig-Standard)
Sports media columnist William Houston's Tuesday column at globesports.com had some interesting numbers on weekend viewership:
  • Friday's Acadia-Saint Mary's University Rush game on The Score: 49,000
  • Saturday's Western-Waterloo telecast on The Score: 68,000 -- a CIS regular-season record
  • Saturday's Michigan-Illinois game on ABC: 20,000

It is a down year for Michigan and Illinois isn't a big TV draw in the States, let alone Canada, but it's really something that the Canadian games drew larger audiences by factors of two and three. Both games were decided by the middle of the third quarter, so conceivably, viewership could have been even higher.

The major changes to this week's cishoops.ca men's basketball Top 10:
  • The movers: Coach Chris Oliver's Windsor Lancers move up two rungs to No. 2, while UBC and Saint Mary's have appeared in the top five after being ranked 6th and 10th, respectively last week.
  • The shaken: Brandon (from No. 2 to 8) and Acadia (No. 3 to 6).
  • Newcomer: The Dalhousie Tigers.
There haven't been many feature-length documentary treatments that attempt to probe Canada's sports culture. So it piqued my interest to see the trailer for Season of Dreams, which explores the province of Saskatchewan's fascination with football.

The project of Tom Simes and Chris Funk of Five Stone Films follows two high school teams during the 2006 season — including one that plays the six-man version of the game popular on the Prairies — and also touches on the Vanier Cup being played in Saskatoon. It might not be a warts-and-all presentation in the vein of Friday Night Lights or the documentary Go Tigers!, but it certainly makes an attempt to capture a sports culture that the rest of Canada doesn't fully appreciate.

The NFL Network has a series called America's Game which periodically includes features about the game at the grass roots, at a level well below the pros. Here's hoping Season of Dreams captures that "football for football's sake" vibe. Outside of hockey, there isn't enough being done to define this to Canadians. The film premieres Nov. 12 — here's hoping it can find an audience outside Saskatchewan.

Season of Dreams website
I did my best to sort through the CIS football playoff picture in the paper today, something that was surprisingly easy even though there's still a week to play in most of the country.

One situation that looks to be pretty well a lock to play out as planned is in the Atlantic, where a contender has emerged. I'd heard good things about the Saint Mary's Huskies going into the year, but even then didn't expect this much from them.

The AUS has essentially been no contest this season.

Head coach Steve Sumarah has really done a nice job, and I caught up with him a week ago after a narrow loss to Laval. He said the feeling among the coaching staff was that they were a strong team last season, and that that's something that's only starting to show this year.

"I think we had the pieces in place, but last year was a very big transition year," Sumarah said. "You know, [former head coach] Blake [Nill] going out to Calgary, I sort of took over — we have a new defensive coordinator, a new special teams coordinator, we got our offensive line coach back from a few years [ago]. There was a big transition here, and we felt like we were on the verge of something pretty good. It just basically took a year to get the guys to believe in that as well.

"We have a very tight team right now and I think they’re very positive about what went on yesterday."

I also asked him about quarterback Erik Glavic, whose name is being mentioned in the Hec Crighton talk quite a bit these days.

"I think for Erik, he’s always been very much a leader and very much a winner," Sumarah said. "He won in high school, he came out in basketball and played on our team and I thought he was very inspirational leader on that team. He sort of carried that team on energy and enthusiasm.

"This year, he knew he was going to be the main guy and he jumped at that chance."

I asked him if Glavic had surprised him with how well he'd taken over the pivot's role. "A little bit. I knew his competitive fire was there, for sure. I was surprised at how quickly he has developed as a true quarterback as well. He has the athleticism, he runs the ball well... he also showed a lot of poise in the pocket and made some good decisions.

"He’s a pretty humble guy. He’s a very competitive guy, but he just wants to win."

Steve's a hometown guy, having grown up in Halifax and going on to play as a receiver at St. FX and Saint Mary's. He was an assistant for the X-Men for three or four years and then was the offensive co-ordinator under Nill with the Huskies for a solid (and successful) decade before Calgary came calling.

As with a lot of CIS coaches, he's always enjoyable to talk to, and I'm sure I'll be catching up with him quite a bit over the coming weeks.

A few more brief thoughts on the playoff picture outside of Ontario:

Manitoba's guaranteed top spot in CanWest, which means home field right through to the Mitchell Bowl (if they make it that far). The Bisons are going to host the winner of this weekend's UBC @ Calgary game and should be a reasonably safe bet to make it to the Hardy Cup game.

They'd host the winner of Saskatchewan-Regina, which should be a barn burner in the semis.

Can anyone beat Laval?

The second-best team in the conference is supposed to be Bishop's (5-2) but they were annihilated 50-15 by Glen Constantin's crew on the weekend.

It seems like it's going to be up to Saint Mary's in the Uteck Bowl to give them a run. At least SMU would get home field advantage there (and they will need it).

Laval will face either Montreal or Sherbrooke in the first round of the playoffs; Bishop's draws Concordia in the other semi.
Mathieu Darche, the former McGill Redmen captain, scored his first NHL goal since 2001-02 tonight in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers.

Hockey is Mr. Mirtle's game and I'm about the last guy who can speak authoritatively on Darche's capabilities as a NHL regular. The 30-year-old winger had a career year last season, putting up 80 points with the AHL's Worcester Sharks last season to earn a shot with Tampa Bay. Evidently, he's earning his keep, although as with all organizational players, it's always a question of how long it will last.

So far, so good, for Darche (John Meagher, Montréal Gazette, Oct. 19)
Notes from a weekend of CIS ball:


The No. 1-ranked Laval Rouge et Or reasserted themselves, downing Bishop's 50-15 without the services of Benoît Groulx. Backup QB César-Roberto Sanchez threw 32 times for 260 yards, helping his team build a 34-0 lead.

Jamall Lee was held to 78 yards, by far a season low for him. As fun as it's been to follow Bishop's resurgence, the Gaiters still might not be able to get a home playoff game. Laval can rest everyone next week vs. Concordia, which has the tiebreaker for second place over the Gaiters if both teams end up 6-2.

The Gaiters' Steve Turner had his third kickoff return for a touchdown this season. Bishop's coach Leroy Blugh, who went 1-7 in each of his first two seasons, is probably the clubhouse leader for the national coach of the year honours, with competition from Saint Mary's Steve Sumurah.

There's no looking back now, but talk about the burn Sherbrooke will face if they lose out to Montreal for the final playoff spot in the Q. The Vert et Or should beat McGill next weekand finish 4-4, but need the Carabins to lose to Bishop's, thanks to that 31-28 overtime loss last week in Montreal. The Vert et Or moved the ball well in the middle field but not at either end. They conceded safeties twice early on, then settled for field-goal tries on a pair of fourth quarter drives.

What's most impressive about McGill's Charles-Antoine Sinotte setting a single-season CIS record for catches — with a game to spare! — is that he's not the biggest guy around at 5-foot-9, 170 lbs. You can only imagine the bumps and bruises the 20-year-old sophomore has absorbed from being whacked by defenders. In the words of North Dallas Forty, "Receivers always get in the back of the head."

Sinotte had 15 catches for 191 yards in the Redmen's 58-30 loss to Concordia, giving him a season total of 66 grabs to break the four-year-old record held by Queen's Craig Spear. He's the first receiver to have three 15-catch games in a career, let alone a season.

With 94 career catches with one game left in his second season, he's halfway to Andy Fantuz' career mark of 189. Some of that is Sinotte and some of that is McGill's gimmicky pass-wacky offence, but nevertheless, he must be unbreakable.

Concordia averaged 9.9 yards per offensive play against McGill, as both teams topped 600 yards in offence. Honestly, that's ridiculous.


Which coach has more to be worried about, Brian Dobie of the No. 3 Manitoba Bisons or Brian Towriss of the No. 8 U of S Huskies? Prior to Saturday's 22-17 win over Regina, Dobie kinda used the Winnipeg Sun as a soapbox for calling out the Bisons. Then his team went out and coughed up the ball five times on fumbles or interceptions at home. Bisons QB John Makie had his first three-pick game since becoming a starter.

Can West, of course, has a recent history of first-place teams going belly-up in the first round of the playoffs -- it's happened three times since 2000. Calgary and UBC, who play next week for the final spot, each held their own in previous visits to Manitoba this season. The Dinos only lost by seven back on Sept. 15, and that was before they found a quarterback in Julian Marchand.

Is it that crazy to think either of those teams -- especially the Dinos -- could pull an upset on Nov. 3?

Towriss, meantime, has a U of S team that has been rather mercurial all season and continued to be this week, getting by Alberta 28-13. The U of S has had no continuity on the ground (28 attempts for 113 yards, no runs longer than 15 yards). Regina, whom they'll face next week in a game that's now for second place and home field in the Nov. 3 semi-final, finally has a mostly respectable defence to complement Teale Orban and that offence.

Lawrence Nixon and Bret Thompson have kind of become co-starters at quarterback for the Huskies. That situation, more often than not, can create negative energy -- like a great offensive co-ordinator (Napoleon Bonaparte) once said, an army unites better behind one poor general than two good ones.


McMaster coach Stefan Ptaszek reached deep into the rulebook to secure home field for the first round of the playoffs against Guelph. Marauders QB Adam Archibald launched a punt on the final play of the game that bounced through the end zone for a game-winning single and 37-36 road victory over the Gryphons. It's kind of taboo to win that way, but anyone who is ticked by the Marauders winning on a single is probably more upset Guelph didn't see it coming.

The Gryphons (4-4) lost four games by a combined 31 points. They will be a tough out next week, as predicted in the pre-season. The Score should have aired this game.

The Western-Waterloo showdown on the University Rush game went pretty much as anyone who's not professionally obligated to raise public interest in the game would have expected. The Mustangs won 37-3 to set up an OUA quarter-final vs. Queen's, mostly by virtue of playing the second and third quarters on what amounted to about a 60-yard field due to a stiff wind at their backs and Waterloo's lack of offence. The Warriors crossed midfield once in the second quarter (on a second-and-10 play that was stopped two yards short of a first down) when they were working against the wind. Yet Western couldn't get in the end zone until after halftime.

Anyone would be proud to be part of that Waterloo defensive front seven today. The fifth-year guys, D-linemen Adam Kania and Darren Kisinger and linebacker Steve Campbell, went out with heads held high after giving the undermanned Warriors a flicker of hope for two quarters. Rookie d-back Mitch Nicholson was excellent. They just couldn't do anything about their offence.

The Mustangs' league-leading defence (260.1 yards per game) has been the best part of their club this season. Rookie rush end Vaughn Martin going up against Queen's left tackle Cody Kennedy will be a key matchup next week. Tom Dolezel and Glen Larocque have also made for a very good Western D-line.

Western tailback Randy McAuley ended up with 1,017 yards on the season, but does he really merit an OUA first all-star selection over Guelph's Nick FitzGibbon (1,170 rushing-receiving yards, 13 TDs) or Ryan Lynch (1,019 yards rushing) of Laurier? To say nothing of actually selecting a true fullback to the all-star team.

McAuley's a good player, but had a couple critical fumbles during Western's 0-4 start and also had a cough-up returned for a touchdown against York, which helped put his team behind the eight-ball entering the second half of the season. Queen's Mike Giffin, a likely first-team OUA pick after leading the league with 1,157 yards and 16 touchdowns, also had fumble problems. However, unlike McAuley, it didn't cost Queen's in the standings. Even if the Gaels had beat Ottawa 15-13 instead of losing 13-12 two weeks ago (when Giffin fumbled on the lip of field goal range), they still would have lost out in a three-way tiebreaker. Ottawa and Laurier would have come out ahead on point differential in that scenario.

Ottawa's Josh Sacobie has 18 TD passes against two interceptions since Week 1 vs. Guelph. He and Bishop's Jamall Lee are 1 and 1-A for the Hec Crighton Trophy. Either way, it will be a proud moment for people in Lennoxville, Que.: Sacobie spent two seasons at Champlain College before Lee arrived to play for Bishop's.

Someone needs to have her or his knuckles rapped for this: U of T administrators have been known to swing the discussion around to their commitment to a broad-based program and the gender equity in sports — which are admirable goals — during any conversation about The Streak. It was ironic, in light of that, that The Score didn't have a headshot of Varsity Blues tennis player Natalia Lech to display when it recognized the OUA female and male athletes of the week during the University Rush game. (It showed a U of T logo where Lech's mug should have been.)

Neither you nor I could care about university tennis, but that is beside the point. Since digital cameras have made everyone a photographer, that's inexcusable. I can't recall it happening before on a University Rush game and can't imagine it happening with a male athlete in a marquee sport.


Gary Ross
had 332 total yards in Mount Allison's moral victory (a 24-15 loss) to Montreal. He's probably the country's best underpublicized wide receiver.

Sumarah, the Saint Mary's coach, was quoted saying during Friday's University Rush telecast of the Huskies' win over Acadia that standout QB Erik Glavic still needs to develop his arm strength. It spurs thoughts about how he would fare in the windy conditions peculiar to November football in Canada.

That's all for now. Send your thoughts to neatesager@yahoo.ca.
Suffice to say, it didn't take St. Francis Xavier's Brazilian newcomer, Islam Luiz de Toledo, very long to make an impression tonight at the Jack Donahue Memorial Tournament in Ottawa.

Eight minutes into the game against the host Gee-Gees, who won 93-67, the 6-foot-7 Toledo (he's a long 6-7, as hoopsheads would say) had already had four genuine wow moments: Two blocks, a one-handed tomahawk dunk and a tough putback basket. On the latter, it immediately registered that he got up higher and faster than these eyes are used to seeing from a player in the Canadian university ranks.

He also made a nice underhand wraparound pass to set up a fast-break layup and made a second dunk, a reverse one-hander where he came under the basket and flushed it.

"I've been coaching forever, and this guy is the best athlete I've ever seen at this level," Ottawa coach Dave DeAveiro said afterward.

Toledo, from Sao Paulo, played two high school seasons in Modesto, Calif., and as a report at cishoops.ca noted this summer, was originally committed to play NCAA D-1 at Brigham Young University. His mom had some health problems, so he returned home to help her for a couple years. Even in a one-sided defeat, he left questions about what he'll do once he figures out this brand of basketball. He's got serious dropjaw.
The five games the matter most:

Acadia at No. 4 Saint Mary's (5:30 Friday, The Score): The Axemen are likely the biggest enigma in the CIS outside of Montreal (the Carabins and the Concordia Stingers). How close are they to where they were in 2005, and how close are they to having fall behind SMU?

The Huskies can clinch home field straight through to the Uteck Bowl on Nov. 17 with a win.

McMaster at Guelph (1 p.m. Saturday): It's worth noting the Marauders will be playing on real grass for only the second time this season and lost the first time (at Queen's in Week 3). The winner of this one, of course, hosts the OUA quarter-final between these teams next week.

Mac, due to inexperience and injuries, particularly to fifth-year senior QB Adam Archibald, has run hot and cold in the passing game all season. Now they're playing on an unfamiliar track, with a drop-back quarterback, against a Gryphons defence that is second in the country in sacks (23) and interceptions (14). Rookie d-back Sebastian Howard has an OUA-best six picks. (Fun fact: Howard is from Niagara Falls, which used to be in McMaster's backyard for recruiting.)

Guelph is allowing 71 fewer yards per game through the air than in 2006, likely the biggest improvement across the country.

Western at Waterloo (1 p.m. Saturday, The Score): The winner faces Queen's in the OUA quarter-final in Kingston next week. Honestly, judging by Waterloo's alleged showing last week vs. the Golden Gaels, it's hard to imagine them regrouping and beating the Mustangs.

Western, by the way, leads the OUA in offence and defence and is 3-4. Anyone have a better way to rank units instead of yards gained?

No. 7 Regina at No. 3 Manitoba (2 p.m. Saturday): It's time to see how legit the young Rams and their score-in-bunches offence are vs. the much more experienced herd of Bisons. Manitoba, like Ottawa, has kind of projected a humble exterior, like a poker player who knows he's got a killer hand. The veteran secondary with Bob Reist and Brady Browne should be able to set the pace vs. Regina's receivers. Regina's made strides on defence since a 36-13 season-opening loss to Manitoba, but their defensive linchpin, Steve Wilson, is coming off an injury.

Regina QB Teale Orban needs two TD passes to break the Canada West career mark held by former Calgary Dinos star Greg Vavra.

Bishop's at Laval (1 p.m., Sunday): The Rouge et Or are starting to get some of their hammers back on both the offensive and defensive lines. This is probably a "no, not yet" game for the reborn Gaiters.

Gaiters tailback Jamall Lee had a 93-yard touchdown run vs. Laval as a rookie in 2005, which represents almost half his total in three career meetings.

Also of note:
  • Laurier has created the Chris Worden Memorial Fund in honour of the slain RCMP officer and former Golden Hawks fullback/special teams player.
You might be aware that Charline Labonte, the Canadian women's hockey team goalie,, plays in the CIS with the McGill Martlets.

The Windsor Lancers have the next-best thing to an Olympic hockey gold medallist: Their lineup now boasts defenceman Frida Nevalainen, who was on the silver medal-winning Swedish team in Turin. The name is admittedly new to me, but the memory of tearing up in February 2006 when Sweden upset Team USA in that semi-final shootout at the Olympics is not. You know me, I am typically one-quarter overjoyed by Swedish sports triumphs, plus I was on emotional overload from some personal stuff that week.

Nevalainen, 20, has already played a few games for the Lancers, but was introduced to the media earlier this week with fellow international student-athletes Sasha Lazic of Serbia (men's basketball) and Iva Peklova (women's b-ball) and Johanna Wernerssson (women's hockey) from the Czech Republic. Crazy.

Lancers lure Europeans (Mary Caton, Windsor Star)
How's this for spin-doctoring? The Acadia Axemen, a legit Top 5 team in men's basketball, will be a ready-made story about overcoming adversity (albeit self-induced) if they make it back to the CIS Final 8.

Axemen coach Les Berry has been suspended from coaching until New Year's Day 2008. It's part of additional sanctions imposed by Atlantic University Sport over the use of an ineligible player during the first part of last season.

The matchless cishoops.ca has more.
Talking with coach Denis Piché and star QB Josh Sacobie for a column in today's Ottawa Sun gave some fresh insight into the No. 2-ranked Gee-Gees and their star passer.

The article ended up being about Sacobie, who grew up in First Nations communities in New Brunswick, striving to become a role model for aboriginal issues and becoming more open about his identity. Josh noted early in the conversation that he's met people "who will say, 'he didn't grow up on a First Nations community.' ... in fact, the first time I left was to go to Champlain College (a Quebec CEGEP) in 2002."

The reality of people not knowing how he grew up and having a high profile as a star athlete has compelled Sacobie to be vocal about the "urgency" to provide positive role models for aboriginals across Canada who face long odds. He's walking his talk. Sacobie spent 10 weeks this summer as a youth counsellor in a Cree community in northern Quebec. He's also getting involved in Aboriginal Youth in Action. He also "jumped at the chance" when asked to be uOttawa's student ambassador for Spread The Net.

"When I look back at all this, the thing I may be most proud of is not the touchdown passes or the passing yards," he said, "but that I was able to do something to improve people’s lives."

What didn't fit the column (and I'm still easing back into the news-gathering game for the dead-tree medium) was the more technical stuff that's gravy to a football geek.
  • Sacobie has eclipsed the school career marks Phill Côté (who won the Hec Crighton in 1999 and led Ottawa to the 2000 Vanier Cup) set for TD passes and yards, and did it in one less season. He also needs just one scoring pass this Saturday vs. Windsor to break the single-season mark of 18 he shares with Côté -- the most dominant performer these eyes ever saw play in the CIS.

    Piché was quick to point out the contrast: "Phill was more like Steve Young and Josh is more like Dan Marino -- actually, John Elway is a better fit. Phill would run around quite a bit. Josh stays more in the pocket -- like Elway, he can run if he has to, it's not pretty, but he can."
  • What's striking about Ottawa this season is their discipline. Despite working in new backs, receivers and blockers (Kirk Kirkwood was a big unplanned-for loss), they have lost the ball on fumbles and interceptions an OUA-low 11 times. They are also the OUA's second-least penalized team, a pretty winning combo.

    Sacobie has just four interceptions in 212 attempts -- the lowest rate of any CIS starter -- and he's had just two picks since Week 1. Piché noted, "And he's done with a brand-new set of receivers," noting slotback David Crane is the only returnee from last year's set of starting receivers.

    Sacobie said that stat is a point of pride for him. "The fact we can manage the ball like that says something about our whole team, the linemen blocking for me and our receivers. We've had some outstanding catches."
  • Another difference in the Gee-Gees, in Sacobie's view, is that they've passed serious fourth-quarter tests the past two weeks against Queen's and Laurier. That didn't happen last season prior to the Mitchell Bowl loss to Saskatchewan. Sacobie led a winning drive to beat Queen's on Oct. 6, and his 45-yard pass to Crane in the final three minutes put away the Golden Hawks.

    "It's like, 'man, we know how to win in the fourth quarter,' " Sacobie said. "We didn’t have that before."
  • The Gee-Gees had the Russ Jackson Award (best combination of academic, athletics and community involvement) last season in o-lineman Naim El-Far, which speaks to the character of their team. "We've got a whole team of Joshes," Piché said, adding that the maturation process is "one of the best parts of the business we're in -- it sure isn't the money."

Sacobie champions cause (Ottawa Sun)

  • Laval injury update: Star QB Benoit Groulx and LB Steve Landry will not play in Sunday's matchup with No. 6 Bishop's. RB Pierre-Luc Yao is expected back.

    D-lineman Jean-Philippe Gilbert and O-lineman Luc Brodeur-Jourdain would probably be listed as "doubtful" in a NFL injury report. (From Media Matin Quebec. and some of the cisfootball.org translators.)
  • Former Ottawa Gee-Gees star wideout Adam Nicolson is earning his keep on special teams for the B.C. Lions (Vancouver Sun).
  • Bill Scollard, who memorably filled in at quarterback for Saint Mary's in the 1988 Vanier Cup when Chris Flynn was unable to play, is honorary chairman of the Uteck Bowl (Halifax Daily News).
  • New Brunswick and Saskatchewan are ranked 1-2 in the first men's hockey Top 10 poll.
  • cishoops.ca catches up with the colourful coach of the Alberta Golden Bears hoops squad, Don Horwood.
Apparently Toronto sports heavy-hitter Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of the board of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainent, is pledging $1-million to varsity sports at the University of Toronto.

It's very preliminary, but it's a big boost for an Ontario school trying to keep up in a competitive recruiting environment.

Hat tip to cishoops.ca for the link.
On behalf of Queen's fans, an invitation has been laid down to Chuck Swirsky, the FAN 590 radio host and play-by-play voice of the Raptors in Toronto, to adopt the Golden Gaels in the event (big if, admittedly) they advance to the OUA semi-final.

U of T coach Steve Howlett was on The Swirsky Show on Tuesday afternoon and The Swirsky wrapped up the interview by saying, "Should you beat Queen's (on Saturday), you have an invitation to bring the whole team down to the FAN 590."

In the interest of due consideration and equal time, it's only right to ask if Swirsky is prepared to do something for Queen's -- which has a lot of GTA-based alumni, many of whom probably listen to his show -- if they deliver over the next couple weeks.
CIS football conferences by offensive yards:
1 CanWest 22 17392 790.55
2 AUS 12 9355 779.58
3 Quebec 18 13178 732.11
4 Ontario 35 25578 730.80

Conferences by rushing yards:
1 CanWest 22 7271 330.50
2 AUS 12 3860 321.67
3 Quebec 18 5032 279.56
4 Ontario 35 9635 275.29

Conferences by passing yards:
1 CanWest 22 10121 460.05
2 AUS 12 5495 457.92
3 Ontario 35 15943 455.51
4 Quebec 18 8146 452.56
"He's the best running back in Canada, as simple as that. He's so powerful and fast. I'm just glad I'm too old and I'm not playing anymore and I never have to tackle a guy like that."

-- Ottawa coach Denis Piché, on Queen's Mike Giffin, as told to the Kingston Whig-Standard

The Whig's Claude Scilley came through with a pair of in-depth pieces on Giffin (one before last Saturday's game, one for today's edition) that capture his progress as a player and a person.

Going back to his high school days, Giffin, who broke former Toronto Argonaut Brad Elberg's single-season rushing record on Saturday and became the first Gael to run for 1,000 yards in a season, was known as a big, talented kid, but a bit unfocused. I remember his coaches at Bayridge Secondary in Kingston's west end making him sit out a game for some off-field transgressions; he didn't really square with the image of the studious scholar-athlete, to put it mildly. Even after he buckled down and got his marks up in order to be admitted to Queen's, he was mostly looked at as a fullback in a two-back system, not a featured back.

He came to camp this year about 20 pounds lighter and a whole lot faster, but still, this has come as almost a complete shock. Most Gaels followers would nodded in agreement before the season if you told them Giffin and fellow tailback Marty Gordon would have 1,100 yards combined after seven games, which they do. No one would have expected that almost all of that -- 1,027 and counting -- would have come from "Giff."

Best back in Canada? Based on the numbers, it's probably Bishop's Jamall Lee, who is averaging 9.1 yards per carry to Giffin's 6.1.

(UPDATE: The OUA named Giffin male athlete of the week, but the press release misspelled his last name "Giffen." Honest human error, or a validation of the suspicion there's a bias against the two Eastern Ontario-based OUA football teams?)

(Photo courtesy of Jeff Chan.)

Running roughshod (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard, Oct. 13)
Giffin sets Gaels single-season rushing record (Claude Scilley, Kingston Whig-Standard, Oct. 15)
Former Western star Andy Fantuz put up big-time numbers Sunday in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' 40-23 win in Hamilton -- a career-high 240 yards on seven catches.

Of course, some would say there are defences in the CIS that are tougher than that of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Just kidding.
Conf. GP W L PF PA Pdif PTS
CanWest 6.3 3.1 3.1 146.4 146.4 0.0 6.3
Ontario 7.0 3.5 3.5 173.2 173.2 0.0 7.0
Quebec 6.0 3.2 2.8 150.2 134.7 2.6 6.3
Atlantic 6.0 2.8 3.3 161.3 184.5 -3.9 5.5

The OUA is widely regarded to be a higher-scoring league, but the average Ontario team has scored just under 25 points per game, while the average Quebec team has scored just more than 25 points per game.

CanWest is at 23 per game and the AUS is just under 27 per game.

I haven't figured out the yardages for each conference, but here are the average scores per game:

Average scores
CanWest: 23.2-23.2
OUA: 24.7-24.7
Que.: 25-22.5
AUS: 26.9-30.8
Team GP W L PF PA Pdif PTS
Laval 6 6 0 236 84 25.3 12
Saint Mary's 6 5 1 248 106 23.7 10
Ottawa 7 7 0 269 108 23.0 14
Laurier 7 6 1 247 114 19.0 12
Bishop's 6 5 1 191 105 14.3 10
Guelph 7 4 3 219 136 11.9 8
Queen's 7 5 2 175 93 11.7 10
Saskatchewan 6 4 2 154 84 11.7 8
Manitoba 6 6 0 162 93 11.5 12
Regina 6 5 1 206 143 10.5 10
Western 7 3 4 186 124 8.9 6
McMaster 7 4 3 193 185 1.1 8
UBC 7 3 4 144 157 -1.9 6
Concordia 6 4 2 103 116 -2.2 8
Calgary 6 2 4 139 154 -2.5 4
Montreal 6 2 4 106 121 -2.5 4
Sherbrooke 6 2 4 161 179 -3.0 4
Alberta 7 2 5 153 176 -3.3 4
Acadia 6 3 3 149 196 -7.8 6
Windsor 7 2 5 154 218 -9.1 4
Waterloo 7 3 4 120 215 -13.6 6
Mount Allison 6 1 5 132 216 -14.0 2
McGill 6 0 6 104 203 -16.5 0
StFX 6 2 4 116 220 -17.3 4
York 7 1 6 82 248 -23.7 2
Simon Fraser 6 0 6 67 218 -25.2 0
Toronto 7 0 7 87 291 -29.1 0
Reading cishoops.ca's daily recaps of pre-season basketball has set the mind to racing about how much the switch to the FIBA rules and 24-second shot clock is going to affect play in men's basketball.

On most weekends last season, you might have seen one or two teams score 100 points and chances are it came in a game where everyone in the gym knew it was probably a mismatch. This weekend, Brandon, Calgary and Cape Breton and McGill each had 100-point games. The Redmen had a 101-98 win over Windsor where each team had a player (The Redmen's Sean Anthony and the Lancers' Greg Surmacz) put up at least 30 points.

A team hit a hundred in the regulation time 18 times last season, or about once every 25 games.
Chances are, it came in a game that everyone in the gym knew would probably be a mismatch.(There were two 101-100 barnburners, which believe it or not, came on the same Saturday.) That McGill-Windsor match, along with the Redmen's 99-89 win over York on Friday, might be closer to the template for the season.

Coach Craig Norman's Redmen have scored at least 90 points in five of their six pre-season games. They cracked 90 once in the previous three seasons and that came in an overtime contest. (Hat tip to Earl Zukerman, McGill's SID.) Some of that's maturing talent, some of it's the rule changes.

Or how about Carleton? The Ravens, who have made their rep on unrelenting defence and patient offence, cracked 95 points only once last season. That came against Lakehead, the last-place team in the OUA West. Dave Smart's Ravens broke 95 twice this weekend en route to winning their home tournament.

It's probably best to take a wait-and-see approach -- wait and see what the scores are like in January and February when teams are weighed down by injuries, cold-and-flu season and more developed defensive systems. For the time being, it's fun to imagine.

No player has averaged 25 points per game in any of the past three seasons. That too could change, since gunners such as Anthony or Saskatchewan's Andrew Spagarud will be getting more shots.
Belated notes on a weekend of CIS ball:


No. 1 Laval: The Rouge et Or got by No. 6 Saint Mary's 29-22 despite its banged-up offence mustering just 192 yards and losing the ball three times on fumbles or picks. A game ball might have to go to kicker Christopher Milo, who outkicked SMU's Justin Palardy and kept Erik Glavic and the Huskies starting with a long field all afternoon. Milo struggles on field goals, but earned his keep with his punts and deep kickoffs.

The other decisive moment for Laval was Duane John's 93-yard kickoff return that set up a touchdown. In other words, despite all the injuries, Laval was still deep enough to win the special teams battle. Laval's showdown with No. 7 Bishop's (5-1) is on a Sunday, so the Rouge et Or get an extra day of R&R. They could spend that day chasing a chicken around the field à la Rocky Balboa in order to prepare for tackling the Gaiters' Jamall Lee.

No. 2 Ottawa: Getting LBs Joe Barnes and Cheelor Lindor back from injuries helped No. 2 Ottawa immensely in a 27-15 win over Laurier that wrapped up home-field advantage for the Yates Cup one week early. Both had sacks for the Gee-Gees, who dropped Laurier QBs five times on their way to a decisive win on the University Rush game.

No. 3 Manitoba: The Bisons are basically in guard-against-complacency mode for the next two weeks. Having to come from behind in the fourth quarter against UBC might be a welcome wake-up call. Their showdown with Regina next Saturday in Winnipeg will probably be billed as a showdown between equals, but the Bisons have an edge in size and experience up front on both sides of the ball.

No. 4 Laurier: The Golden Hawks have some healing to do on offence. QB Ian Noble (6-for-17, 68 yards, two interceptions) did not complete the game. Between finishing with York and having a first-round bye, Laurier is going to have a long wait before it faces a serious challenge, but that's the luxury of being a top team.

No. 5 Saskatchewan: The View From The Stands is the go-to spot for the No. 5 Saskatchewan Huskies' 20-19 home loss to Calgary (the biggest win Blake Nill has had since relocating to Southern Alberta, obviously). The Huskies had issues, especially with both the offensive and defensive lines, which are usually immutables for them. It's still fair to say few people expected them to leave the door open for the young Dinos to pull an upset. This was close to completely unexpected. Lesson learned on this end.

Calgary's Aaron Ifield kicked a 51-yarder at the buzzer to win. The game-turning play was rookie receiver Nathan Coehoorn's 56-yard TD catch with 6:58 left that pulled Calgary within two, coming less than a minute after a Huskies touchdown.

Keep in mind that Saskatchewan is still a lot closer to Manitoba than it is to the rest of Can West.
No. 6 Saint Mary's: Like Queen's when they lost a one-pointer at Ottawa, the Huskies probably feel much the same after a seven-point loss to a nicked-up Laval team. Steve Sumurah's team is past the point of moral victories, but they're not quite at a national level just yet. Keeping it close on the road does go some image rehab for the Atlantic conference.

No. 7 Bishop's: Gaiters ground-acquirer Jamall Lee's 266-yard day vs. Acadia gave him an even 1,200 after six games. Along with Laval, he also has to play Montréal, so if he stays healthy, a final total somewhere in the 1,400s seems about right. How does Lee not get the Hec Crighton with numbers like that? It's probably a little much to expect the Gaiters to give Laval a test; Leroy Blugh's lads are only a year removed from 1-7.

No. 8 Regina: Is it rash to favour Regina over Saskatchewan in that Oct. 27 game that will likely decide second place in Canada West and home field for the conference semi-final? Maybe a little. The Rams (5-1) still have the rep of being a bit soft up front.

No. 9 Queen's: Gaels tailback Mike Giffin became the first runner in the program's history to go over 1,000 yards in a season with a 193-yard day in a 45-0 wipeout of Waterloo. At the rate he's going, he could be a very good backup or blocking back for those all-powerful teams in the 519 area code. (Note the sarcasm.)

Once the homecoming hangover wears off, Queen's fans might want to note they had three red-zone turnovers and 169 yards in penalties on Saturday. Not a good sign seven games in.

No. 10 Concordia: Puzzling as ever yet still beating, thy name is the Stingers, who eked out another low-scoring win, 13-8 over winless McGill. QB Liam Mahoney ran for 181 yards and tailback Cedric Ferdinand added 148 as the Stingers contained McGill's Matt Connell by the only way known to man -- keeping him on the sideline. The Stingers aren't exactly inspiring confidence these days.


What does Calgary's win over Saskatchewan mean? It sets up a matchup vs. UBC on Oct. 26 that will likely decide the final playoff berth. Between Calgary's ground game and improving defensive front seven (seven sacks vs. Saskatchewan) and UBC's defence led by Scott McCuaig, whoever finishes fourth can give Manitoba a good fight in conference semi-final.


Hat tip to coach John Bloomfield's program at St. FX, which pulled off a 41-35 win over Mount Allison. The X-Men are a ways away from respectability, but they've had some triumphs this fall. Just having the extra week that comes with preparing for a playoff game would help and hey, they will have a shot at Acadia before the post-season.

Montréal (2-4) saved their season for at least one more week by pulling out a 31-28 overtime win over Sherbrooke. The Carabins have to win out vs. Mount Allison and Bishop's to get the fourth playoff spot; Sherbrooke closes with St. FX and McGill and should win both.

Forgive McGill alumni if they're not too preoccupied about the football Redmen being winless. The school's basketball team is going to be good. Senior Sean Anthony had 33 points and 14 boards in a 101-98 upset last night of Windsor, who is ranked No. 3 in the country by cishoops.ca.


Playoff scenarios: Guelph and McMaster are locked into fourth and fifth place (both lost to third-place Queen's and beat the teams who will finish sixth), so their meeting next week will decide who hosts the OUA quarter-final on Oct. 27.

The Western-Waterloo game is a sudden-death playoff for the final spot and a playoff date with Queen's. It's rash to say it's a given the Mustangs will beat the Warriors, but if they do, Greg Marshall's team will have made the post-season by beating all four teams who didn't.

Waterloo is who we thought they were. The Warriors (3-4) were outgained 553-87 by Queen's and finished the game with wideout Anthony Amadio taking snaps at quarterback. They were every bit a homecoming opponent.

James Mirtle has covered off the U of T's record-setting 48th consecutive loss down below.


Rising: Jamall Lee from Bishop's, Teale Orban from Regina (1,809 yards and an 18-5 TD-INT ratio)

Holding: Sacobie from Ottawa, Erik Glavic of Saint Mary's

Darkhorses: Mike Giffin of Queen's, Anthony Woodson of Calgary

Early guesses on the Top 10: Nos. 4-6, Laurier, Saskatchewan and Saint Mary's, each lost; the Golden Hawks might hold their position with Saint Mary's inching up to No. 5 since they had a close loss on the road. Saskatchewan might get dropped as far as No. 8 behind Regina and Bishop's, although that's probably low considering their reputation.
Next PostNewer Posts Previous PostOlder Posts Home