Football Week 6: Shaky Saturday

Narrow escapes by top teams were the theme of this weekend... some teams must have been thinking about the Thanksgiving turkey.


No. 1 Laval: Don't read too much into the Rouge et Or only beating Montreal 26-17. QB Benoit Groulx and tailback Pierre-Luc Yao were spotted much of the game and several defensive starters were apparently nicked up. The Rouge et Or should still count their lucky stars the showdown vs. likewise unbeaten Saint Mary's is in Ste-Foy, not Halifax.

Laval hasn't dressed kicker Cam Takacs all season, preferring to play Christopher Milo who is the better punter, but might have to reconsider after Milos' 1-for-4 day on field goals.

No. 2 Ottawa: An obvious parallel for the Gee-Gees and QB Josh Sacobie, who escaped 13-12 at home against Queen's on a 60-yard touchdown pass to Cyril Adjeity with 67 seconds left, probably comes from none other than the Gaels. Midway through a 7-1 season in '02, the Gaels and Tom Denison had a similar close call -- it might even have come on Thanksgiving weekend -- at home vs. Laurier, winning 12-9 in a game that did not have an offensive touchdown. This sort of thing happens when a team is heavily reliant on the pass, as the Gee-Gees have become this season.

Ottawa's ground game is getting better (Davie Mason ran 18 times for 103 yards). Defensively, LBs Joe Barnes and Cheelor Lindor were unable to play, so it could have just been off-day. Health aside, the Gee-Gees are in better shape than Laurier.

The Gaels' most important defender, cornerback Jimmy Allin, went out with an injury during the game. Queen's running back Mike Giffin had a costly fumble for the second week in a row, this one sealing the outcome in the final minute. It's small consolation to Giffin, no doubt, that he is within 104 yards of topping former Argonaut Brad Elberg's single-season school rushing record.

No. 3 Manitoba: All quiet on the western front, basically: John Makie threw 30 times for 305 yards and the Karma backfield (as in Karim Lowen, and Matt Henry) counted more than 200 yards on the ground. The Bisons probably scoot up to No. 2 after the Gee-Gees' slip-up. (No. 5 Saskatchewan was idle.) Brian Dobie's Bisons are a lot like a Prairie ecosystem; it might seem nondescript to Ontario know-it-alls, but there's a lot going on. (See, I did so pay attention in Grade 9 geography.)

No. 4 Laurier: Never underestimate the Golden Hawks' character after seeing the Golden Hawks come from 10 points down on the road to beat Guelph 37-27. They've basically become the Carleton Ravens basketball team in pads with their ability to beat teams while seemingly getting beat on the stat sheet. Coach Kyle Walters' Gryphons had a 477-264 edge in net offence, but the Hawks took to the bad weather better in the second half (the game was delayed by lightning in the second half). Anthony Maggiocomo returned an interception 40 yards to get Laurier back in the game and DB Brent Hickey ran in a blocked punt for the clinching points. It's not the first time nor the last the Golden Hawks (6-0) will win a game they shouldn't have.

No. 6 Saint Mary's: Well, they beat St. FX by 55 points and Laval only did so by 43, so what does that mean with regard to the showdown in Ste-Foy next week? Probably nothing. They can give Laval a game, though.

No. 7 Concordia: The confusing Stingers gave up 391 yards on the ground to Sherbrooke. What was that?

No. 8 Bishop's: They hung on, 30-25 over a McGill team that never gave up. LB James Yurichuk, one of many Gaiters from the GTA, had four sacks. Leroy Blugh's team might be headed into too-much, too-soon territory, though. Their defence, which allowed 476 yards, will be tested by Acadia and its California connection next week.

No. 9 Queen's: Stop by Out of Left Field for the pity party; bring a dessert and it better not be quiche.

No. 10 Regina: Ever wondered what Teale Orban might do with a running game? One more win assures the Rams, who got 121 yards from ex-Ottawa Gee-Gee Derek Belvedere in a 42-17 rout of Calgary, of at least a 5-3 finish. It's looking an inter-provincial Rams-Huskies matchup in the Canada West semi-final on Nov. 3.


James Mirtle was prescient enough to write a Globe & Mail article a few weeks ago about the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, now 2-3 with a finishing slate of offensively challenged Montreal, St. FX (1-4) and McGill (0-5). Sherbrooke seems to have a lot of offence; that's for sure. If they get to 5-3, it could create a three-way tie for second in the QUFL with Bishop's and Concordia. How does a Bishop's-Sherby playoff matchup sound?

McGill is winless: We realize people in Montreal envy the city of Toronto, but copying their penchant for a winless football team at the downtown university? For shame.


Resist the urge to poke fun at Western for barely beating York and give the Lions credit. Is it impossible to believe that first-year coach Andy McEvoy and ex-Argos star Clifford Ivory, the defensive co-ordinator, might be making some of their lessons stick? The defence hung in and forced nine turnovers, scored their team's lone TD when Adrian Ferenc returned a fumble (by Randy McAuley, no need to ask) 80 yards and almost won the game.

York, who lost by a field goal or less for the second time this season (they missed a kick to tie the game with 5:43 left), often has issues with continuity and roster stability that keep them in the lower half of the OUA. They do have their moments, though.

Waterloo plays Queen's next week, so I won't make too much of the fact the Warriors were outscored 104-14 across 10 quarters are making it into the Top 10. Waterloo went 160 minutes 21 seconds between offensive touchdowns. Isn't Joe Paopao supposed to be an offensive guru?
McMaster, who beat the Warriors 39-23 in QB Adam Archibald's return from a concussion, is a shaky 3-3 but is pointed toward a matchup with Guelph on Oct. 20 that would have playoff implications. The Score initially left the date open on its University Rush schedule, so either that or Waterloo-Western is an option.


Mount A's Kelly Hughes or McGill's Matt Connell, which QB is the better one man-show? Hughes rallied the Mounties from 16 points down to force overtime, only to lose on a field goal by Acadia's James Michener.


UBC d-end Scott McCuaig got his 10th sack of the season in the T-Birds' Shrum Bowl win over Simon Fraser. He's one away from tying the Canada West record with two games to play. I'm having one of those Dead Zone visions and it involves a lot of holding flags.


On the rise: Bishop's Jamall Lee, who can break the Quebec conference rushing record next week vs. Acadia; Regina's Orban after firing six TD passes.

Holding firm: Sacobie of Ottawa; Saint Mary's QB Erik Glavic.

Dipping: Laurier's Ian Noble and Ryan Lynch (general offensive struggles), Groulx (lack of reps), Calgary's Anthony Woodson (just wait until '08 or '09).

Darkhorses: Guelph's Nick FitzGibbon (277 all-purpose yards and three TDs vs. Laurier), Makie of Manitoba.

Early guesses on the Top 10: A possible Manitoba-Ottawa flip at 2-3; Bishop's and Regina go into the 7-8 slots and Concordia goes to ninth, with Queen's staying in for lack of a team to nudge them out.

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  1. "Health aside, the Gee-Gees are in better shape than Laurier."

    Not sure what you mean by that Neate. Care to elaborate?

  2. Laurier gave up 477 yards last week, their star tailback (Ryan Lynch) been under 3 yards a carry across the past two games and their quarterback threw a couple bad balls against Guelph that were intercepted.

    It seems like they have a lot of work before they can go up against Ottawa. The Gee-Gees played without Barnes and Lindor.

  3. Thanks Neate. I did not know that Lynch had been struggling like that the last two games.
    I do not know if both Barnes and Lindor will be back with the GGs on Saturday. If either of them are, it wil be a boost for thr Gee Gees.
    Also OG Frank Speara was missing from last week's lineup due to a one game suspension. He is a veteran and an integral part of the O-line, so having him back should be of great benefit as well.