Football: Week 8 digest

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
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