Our man at The Merc has a couple posts today. One on the possibility of one of the one-time Guelph Gryphons great, Michael O'Shea, possibly hanging up his moleskin (as they used to say of Canadian footballers) after 16 seasons

The other, also Toronto-related (he typed, apologetically), includes Greg DeLaval having to re-apply for the top coaching position at the U of T. One would hope it's a formality, based on the fact The Streak ended on his watch, but it is never that easy. DeLaval should get a shot; this was the first time since 1997 that U of T won more than one game a season.

(How long ago was 1997? Laval missed the playoffs that season. You know it was a long time ago...)

Blues Clues; O'Shea Classy Till The End (Greg Layson, Big Man on Campus)
"The rumour making the rounds is if UNB brings in a team, UPEI would follow, particularly with a new facility being built to accommodate the Canada Games being played there this summer.

"UNB has its new turf field at Chapman replete with football markings. With the considerable upstart cost, it would have to be a Laval-type situation where a group outside of the school would finance the team.

"Alumni types tell me there's such a group in place. And that once a team becomes reality, money won't be a problem." -- Fredericton Daily Gleaner, Oct. 29
The obvious joke: It would be great to see another team or two down East -- where else in Canada can Ontario kids go to play football?

Climate conducive to consider resurrecting football at UNB (David Ritchie, Frederiction Daily Gleaner)
Laval takes the gateau with 11 selections -- five on offence, four on defence and Christopher Milo as both kicker and punter.

Meantime, Sherbrooke, with a 5-3 record, has only two players selected. McGill, which didn't win a game, has just as many. Bishop's, which missed the playoffs, has five. This is not meant to impugn anyone's selection. There is an argument you hear every year that the picks should reflect the standings, although that's debatable. McGill allowed 52 points per game. It has an all-star on defence. Sherbrooke allowed 19 a game and gets shut out.

(That's reminiscent of a year about a decade ago where when Queen's missed the playoffs but had three all-Canadian selections ... one Tricolour type was heard to remark, "You'd think they'd have let us have three wins, so we could have made the playoffs.")

Quarterback -- Benoit Groulx, Laval
Running backs -- Jamall Lee, Bishop's; Hantz Bourisquot, Montréal
Wideouts -- Keith Godding, Bishop's; Julian Féoli-Gudino, Laval
Inside receivers -- Alain Dorval, Sherbrooke; Erik Galas, McGill
Tackles -- Tom Cumberbatch, Bishop's; Christian Jacques, Sherbrooke; Sebastien Taché, Montréal (there was a tie in the voting)
Guards -- Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Laval; Vincent Turgeon, Laval
Centre -- Louis-David Gagné, Laval

Ends -- Marc-André Beaudoin-Cloutier, Laval; Mathieu Brossard, Montréal
Tackles -- Etienne Legaré, Laval; Gregory Alexandre, Montréal
Linebackers -- Joash Gesse, Montréal; Cory Greenwood, Concordia; James Yurichuk, Bishop's
Cornerbacks -- Hamid Mahmoudi, , Montréal; Olivier Turcotte-Letourneau, Laval
Halfbacks -- Maxime Bérubé, Laval; Anthony Lukca, McGill
Safety -- Nick Arsenault-Hum, Concordia

Kicker -- Christopher Milo, Laval (as kicker and punter)
Kick returner -- Steve Turner, Bishop's
Back by popular moderate demand, it's the 2008 quarterback rankings.

Again I emphasize that this only considers passing plays and does not give QBs credit if their receivers or O-line are less than ideal. It also doesn't treat kindly those teams who throw on every down, so certain men, possibly playing at Molson Stadium, are penalized.

A quick reminder: we're looking at adjusted net yards per pass attempt, vs. an average quarterback in each conference. Above or below 100 is how much that quarterback added or took away per 100 yards. For example, Steve Snyder's 133 means for every 100 yards the average AUS QB would gain in the air, Snyder gained 133.

Some of the more interesting results before I get to the list:

  • Benoît Groulx ended up with a 150 in the regular season, which compares well with his previous numbers: 167 and 155 in his healthy seasons. Either he's been consistently good, save for injury, or Laval's system is constantly beneficial to its quarterbacks.
  • Second and third are the Huskies' Laurence Nixon and X-Man Steve Snyder.
  • Matt Connell is dead last among 24 qualifying quarterbacks (mostly because he has by far the most attempts). Take from that what you will.
  • Waterloo's Evan Martin nearly achieved the OUA average at 94, which is certainly better than Warrior performance in the past (76, 86, 72). Others have noted improvements in this year's Waterloo team and they certainly didn't look completely overmatched against Laurier as they have in the past, so I have to agree.
  • Josh Sacobie is down in the middle of the pack, which is another indication of Ottawa's disappointing season.
  • Sam Malian, noted earlier as the Week 6 leader, ended up 15th among qualifiers.
  • Nobody from 2008 made the four-year top ten ('05-'08). That may indicate that there weren't any outstanding QBs this year; the great ones were closer to average.

Enough talk. Here are the top 10 quarterbacks from 2008 by this measure (at least 14 attempts per game required):

Leaders in adjusted net yards per attempt (conference average per 100), 2008
150, Benoît Groulx - Laval
148, Laurence Nixon - Saskatchewan
133, Steve Snyder - StFX
129, Michael Faulds - Western
127, Justin Dunk - Guelph
124, Dan Brannagan - Queen's
122, Teale Orban - Regina
115, Joshua Sacobie - Ottawa
114, Deke Junior - Calgary
111, Kelly Hughes - Mount Allison

Top 10 passing seasons from 2005 to 2008
176, Joshua Sacobie (2007)
175, Adam Archibald (2007)
167, Benoît Groulx (2005)
167, John Makie (2006)
162, Michael Faulds (2005)
157, Erik Glavic (2007)
155, Benoît Groulx (2006)
154, Dan Brannagan (2007)
153, Dan Lumley (2006)
152, Ryan Pyear (2005)

A complete 2008 list is in the comments.
"To the goofs from the CIS message boards who think I'm bluffing that your IP's can be traced no matter how well you disguise it.

"Guess what? The cops can do anything they want. And they have. I've seen it. And that's what (Regina coach) Frank (McCrystal) said they are looking into." — Rod Pederson
Paraphrasing Pepper Brooks in Dodgeball, calling Saskatchewan football fans "goofs" is a bold strategy for someone who just published a book on the Roughriders. Let's see if it works out for him. Don't worry, there cannot be too much overlap between cisfootball.org-reading fans of the Saskatchewan Huskies, Regina Rams and the CFL team which represents Saskatchewan and plays in Regina. 

Frank McCrystal got Deadspinned Monday for his "criminal element" comment. That's not the be-all end-all (thanks for the traffic, though). Pederson, whom one dot-orger says "is obviously a pawn, a clown or a simple-minded buffoon," looks as bad as the coach he was backing. 

He is all hat and no cattle here. The upshot is the dot-orgers are laughing fit to split over this, with good reason. People want a community online where they can meet with liked-mindeds, however nichy the interest group (and since Canadian university sports are as nichy as it get). It isn't much of a person or thinker who takes it seriously, let alone feels threatened. 
Very good profile on Mount A's Mr. Everything, Gary Ross, by this site's founder in the print edition of tomorrow's Globe & Mail:
"A football and basketball star in high school in Windsor, Ont., he spent five years at a factory assembling welding guns and didn't pursue school or football until two years ago. The Mount Allison Mounties, who had not won a game in four years, were the only Canadian Interuniversity Sport program that took an interest in the 5-foot-8, 180-pound dynamo.

"Ross knew little about the school, but realized he would get a chance to play a big role, given the Mounties' limited on-field success." — James Mirtle
Pound for pound, Ross might be the best player in the country.

Ross leads Mount Allison's run into the postseason (James Mirtle, globesports.com)
It was very tempting to say "monster performer" in that headline.

Throughout the basketball season, not only will we be tracking the top teams, but we'll also track the best individual performances during each week. These are more or less going to be automatically determined by each player's game score (definition here under "GmSc"), because the wonders of technology allow me to do that with very little effort.

It's not perfect but neither are the stats we have to work with. Think of it as a quick look at who performed well offensively (although steals and blocks are considered as well). If you think someone else deserves recognition, mention them in the comments.

So here are the top 3 for the first, CanWest-dominated, week of play:


25.6, Greg Wallis (Simon Fraser, 10/24 at Trinity Western)
20.8, Robbie Sihota (Calgary, 10/25 at Winnipeg)
18.6, Danhue Lawrence (Lethbridge, 10/24 at Winnipeg)

16.4, Kayla Dykstra (Victoria, 10/25 at Saskatchewan)
16.4, Laurelle Weigl (Simon Fraser, 10/24 at Trinity Western)
14.7, Jana Spindler (Saskatchewan, 10/24 vs. UBC)

It's no surprise to see Wallis at the top of the men's list; also, note that Dykstra's effort came in a losing cause, but just barely, with a 58-56 final score. Sihota was also less fortunate, as his Dinos fell to Mike James and the Wesmen by 14. In front of an attendance of one, apparently. Either the CIS scorekeepers entered something incorrectly again, or Winnipeg has a killer Saturday night scene...
A tracker at the week coming up for the Top 10 teams in men's hockey seems like a good idea ... the conference breakdown is grist for the mill to say the least.
  1. Alberta: Split the weekend series at Saskatchewan, which managed to a keep a three-goal lead in the second game, a 5-2 Huskies win. Colin Patterson scored a pair of second-period goals and Colin Da Silva got clincher for the U of S with 8:49 left.

    One bullet point is insufficient for doing justice to the Golden Bears' 7-6 win Friday over the U of S Huskies. Alberta got the last goal in each period; Jesse Gimblett factored in all three of their power-play tallies and that was enough to win the first leg of a two-game set. Saskatchewan bounced back, though.
  2. Saskatchewan: Ibid., see No. 1. The Huskies had the edge in shots in goal Friday, too.
  3. Acadia: Finished with just one point for the weekend. Blair Jarrett's goal at 19:57 of the third period forced overtime Saturday vs. No. 4 UNB, only to have Dustin Friesen win in OT for the Varsity Reds. Lost 5-3 to UPEI Friday.
  4. UNB: As noted above, should move up after winning both, including the overtime win over Acadia. Beat Dalhousie 5-2 Friday, outshooting the Tigers 49-14.
  5. Trois-Rivières: Their big Alexandre Demers-Jonathan Boutin-Mathieu Gravel line scored all three goals in a win over Concordia on Tuesday. They don't play another OUA game until Oct. 31.
  6. Laurier: Likely to drop after a 6-1 loss in the second game of their series at Lakehead ... the Thunderwolves' website more or less hinted that they played hit-the-logo in Friday's game, a 3-2 Laurier win in the shootout. Golden Hawks goalie Jeff Macdougald stopped 77-of-85 shots in two games.
  7. UPEI: Finished with three points from the weekend after losing 4-3 in OT Saturday to Dalhousie ... they were outshot in Friday's 5-3 win over Acadia, thanks to 39 saves from Wayne Savage, the former Toronto-St. Michael's Majors goalie.
  8. Carleton: Well, let's not start rearranging the trophy case at CU just yet ... who knows how much energy the Ravens expended beating Queen's Friday, but they had the day game after the night game for the second straight weekend (with a bus trip thrown in) and lost 4-3 to RMC. Goalie Alex Archibald has been in net for all five regular-season Ravens wins. Saint Mary's split and Toronto, the highest of the also receiving votes team, lost their only game against the very team Carleton, so it should not be a one-week stay
  9. Saint Mary's: Marc Rancourt, another Ottawan (Gloucester), scored in overtime Saturday to a cap a four-goal, 6-5 comeback win at St. Thomas. It gave the Huskies a split of the weekend, both one-goal games (as so often happens in the Atlantic conferece)..
  10. Moncton: Fired five goals past St. FX goalie Danny Batocchio (the ex-Ottawa 67) in the first period and a half Saturday, winning 6-3 for a sweep of the weekend. Coupled with their win over SMU, they could move up to No. 8.
Calgary, Toronto, York, Brock and Lakehead are the ARVers. Toronto lost 4-1 in its lone game vs. Queen's. Lakehead's big win over Laurier might get it another vote or two.

Ottawa 42, Guelph 37 —
Davie Mason channeled Earl Campbell, 1979, and put the Gee-Gees on his back to help them get through the kind of high-scoring game that's become a trademark of first-round OUA games. He ran 31 times for 327 yards, breaking Greg Marshall's twenty-eight-year-old playoff record by 10, setting up an all-613 semi-final next week in Kingston vs. the Queen's Golden Gaels.

If you're going down to the Limestone City, you need a Mason. That was terrible.

Ottawa is dangerous, they're very dangerous. Please keep in mind that this was Guelph and no disrespect, but as our season preview noted, "Defensively, they have to make sure that such a young team doesn't wear down late in the season: They gave up an average of 544 yards on defence over their final four games."

The Gryphons gave up 621 today. Greg Layson, our man at The Mercury, has much more over at Big Man on Campus, including Marshall's take on his record being broken in his hometown. Marshall was a fullback. Mason plays a kind of single-back position.

The Gee-Gees were, at least in the offensive and defensive phases of the game, full value for the win. Understandably, it's hard to resist the this-year's-Western motif, especially with a team with Ottawa's talent. It should be a great game, but Queen's plays the run much tougher and their quarterback distributes the ball better than Guelph QB Justin Dunk.

Meantime, Guelph .. Guelph, Guelph, Guelph, Guelph, Guelph. They simply didn't fight for that inch, to evoke the Al Pacino speech from Any Given Sunday.  Dunk accounted for all four TDs and 333 yards offence, which looks good in a press release. As for one the field, the dot-orgers, though, have made detailed note of his little peccadilloes ... holding the ball too long, forced throws, scrambling instead of dumping the ball off to a teammate — and it's not as if his receivers are talentless and aren't working to get open.

Vince Young analogies are a don't-go-there these days. Dunk, though, was supposed to be the OUA analog to Young as a Texas Longhorn, but in the big games he's been more like Young as a Tennessee Titans. Your fourth season is a little late to still be getting judged on potential — the results say his team is 0-2 on its home field in playoff games. (Talk about a Ewing Theory team if ever there was one.)

Laurier 29, McMaster 0 — Hi, I'm Ryan Lynch, who you might remember from such Golden Hawks football seasons as 2006 and '07. The wind reduced both teams' ability to pass with any effectiveness. Lynch, credit him for having stuck with it after a tough regular season, rushed 30 times for 229 yards — almost half his regular-season output — to help put the young Hawks into the OUA semi-final at Western (next week's University Rush tilt).

Mac was just generally flat, for reasons not entirely weather-related.


Concordia 17, Sherbrooke 3 —
It can be safely assumed weather was a factor. One touchdown was scored all day and the Stingers missed the convert, but that's better than missing a lot of tackles. Liam Mahoney ran for 132 yards and that only TD, and the Stingers won despite completing one pass all afternoon.

The best I can figure is that since three Q teams finished 5-3 and Concordia beat Montréal and Sherbrooke, the Stingers get home field next week against Sherbrooke. The Vert et Or, who seem to have had a second-half fade, beat Montréal.

Montréal 56, Bishop's 6 — The one common refrain with the Carabins is that they're a better team than they're generally given credit for, and they'll have a chance to prove it in a semi-final at Laval, where they lost only 17-6 in the season opener. That was a long time ago ... Montréal kept it close despite Laval's 4-0 edge in takeaways ... Les Bleus' Hantz Bourisquot had a 100-yard game that day despite the lack of a fully formed passing game ... the QB, Marc-Olivier Brouillette, finished the season with pretty nice numbers (7.8 yards per pass, 10-to-5 TD-INT ratio) ... could they give the Rouge et Or a game in a playoff at PEPS? They have played there enough that it should hold no terror for them by this point.

Bishop's Jamall Lee's final totals: 1,202 yards rushing, 10 TD, 6.6 per carry. Those a Hec Crighton-worthy numbers. It won't help that his team finished 3-5.

How about a hand for Hantz Bourisquot, who finishes the season with 807 yards on just less than seven yards per carry? Not too shabby a season.

Laval 67, McGill 8 — First things first, Benoît Groulx finished with a CIS-record 75.2% completion percentage after picking cherries, going 18-for-22 against McGill to finish 185-of-246. The score is pretty self-explanatory.

Matt Connell is down for 254 passing yards ... he finishes his career with 10,455, a record that might stand for some time, and set a single-season mark with 209 completions. Erik Galas finishes with 194 career catches.

Remember when McGill kicker Austin Anderson made five field goals in his first game and was the subject of much media attention, since his dad is the former NFL kicker Gary Anderson? McGill did not try a field goal again after Week 1. It's kind of amusing, if you can't smile at that ... you probably can't smile. McGill could really be in tough to win next season too.


Acadia 28, Mount Allison 25 —
The Axemen turned over the keys to rookie pivot Kyle Graves of Barrie, Ont., and the versatile QB finished with 206 yards passing and another 54 rushing to help wring a win out of a woeful season in Wolfville. Graves was a big get for the Axemen in recruiting, since the arms-and-legs war in the Atlantic conference are escalating, between Kelly Hughes at Mount A and Saint Mary's four-man rotation at QB.

Graves' debut included a 106-yard scoring pass to another freshman, 5-foot-7, 150-lb. receiver Nick Downey.

Hughes threw for 164 yards and ran for 92, which will make his Atlantic Conference MVP resumé look all the better.


Alberta 20, Calgary 9 — This was not the best way for the Dinos to go into the playoffs, but at least Anthony Woodson came back from his injury and had 13 carries. Matt Walter, when all is said and done, should have 904 yards, third in the country.
"... word out of the Windsor athletics and human kinetics department is that (Mike) Morencie will indeed coach the Lancers in 2009. However, if he doesn't win at least five gaves, the university will buy out the remaining year of his contract. It expires in July 2011. He must go 5-3 or his tenure ends." — Greg Layson, Big Man on Campus
One could be forgiven for thinking that the reason a change has not been made is because the coach has tenure.

It's not all Morencie's fault and it's true he has helped a couple players reach the CFL. However, keeping a coach on because there are problems within the program is a logical fallacy (and FYI, Bob Duff, Windsor's win over Ottawa was at home, not on the road).

Morencie on short leash (Bob Duff, Windsor Star)
Canada West

Regina 17, Manitoba 12 (Rams advance to playoffs): The Bisons were an enigma all year so it's fitting that their season would end it in a confusing fashion.

It was an eight-point game with 11 minutes left when the Bisons, starting from their own four-yard line after Perri Scarcelli boomed a kickoff deep into the end zone, embarked on a drive that was longer than a cattle call. Thing is, that 17-play, 91-yard drive that took up 8 1/2 minutes and only got them three points, meaning they used an awful lot of time and still needed a touchdown to win.

It was third-and-3 at the 15 and the season's on the line. Granted, under the McCrystal law that was imposed recently, it's a criminal offence to a question a coaching decision. However, Regina's defence had been on the field for more than eight minutes, why not go for it?

As it turned out, after forcing a punt, Manitoba took over 82 yards from the end zone with 87 seconds left. They got as far as the 31 -- in field goal range, but they needed a touchdown -- before turning the ball over on downs. Just saying.

Regina was better in the red zone, plain and simple. They completed two touchdown drives, both on one-yard sneaks by Teale Orban. The Bisons also had QB Nathan Friesen, who relieved an injured John Makie, fumble at the end of a 16-yard run at the Rams 20 late in the third quarter, costing them points. Friesen had decent numbers, so that obviously hurt.

Stan Van Sichem forced that fumble for the Rams and also was in on the tackle on Manitoba's penultimate play of the game, a second-and-2 where Matt Henry was stuffed short of the first down. Manitoba receiver Terry Firr had one catch for five years in his final game. Regina's got the lucky horseshoe -- if not for UBC's braincramp, they would be 4-4.

No. 5 Saskatchewan 28, UBC 3 (Huskies clinch first place): A pretty open-and-shut win for the U of S, who finish 6-2. QB Laurence Nixon threw 24 times for 236 yards and none of the Huskies' six scoring drives went more than 55 yards; UBC got inside the 35-yard line once all night. Odds are, it will end up being a Calgary-Saskatchewan Canada West final in two weeks.


No. 6 Saint Mary's 49, St. FX 7: What's more absurd -- that there are five teams better than SMU, or to have thought there was a chance they might not get out of the conference?

Saint Mary's averaged 11.6 yards per rush and 5.6 per pass. They might have scored more if they'd thrown less!
" 'Well, it really is pathetic," McCrystal commented. "You've got some pathetic person hiding behind a keyboard in cyberspace shooting his mouth off instead of stepping up to the plate and coming to say what they have to say. I don't pay much attention to them and I haven't for, forever really. But when you have comments that are more slanderous, I think that's something that should be addressed. We're having it addressed through the league and maybe recognized as a criminal element. We're looking into that.'

"A reminder to the message boarders — any and all comments can be traced right back to your computer and I've done it. It doesn't matter if you're on a public computer ... you'll still be nailed." — rodpederson.com (emphasis mine)
To be clear, that last sentence is from Rod Pederson, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, whose blog which has a following I'd love to have (and he was nominated in the Canadian Blog Awards in 2007, too!)

One would hope that in 2008, it would not have to be explained to a sportsperson how people are on the Internet and why you should take Colby Cosh's advice and "grow a pair." You're a grown man, Mr. McCrystal. When people are criticizing you, start by looking in the mirror. The people who are critiquing you on cisfootball.org, sure they get a little over-the-top and they don't do the "dance around the obvious pole" the way traditional media, so-called, do. 

It's a different audience with the diehards. They care a lot more, they're more emotionally invested. All they have ever been guilty of is loving a sport and your league, one that can use a little love these days. Getting on your highhorse and sabre-rattling about "criminal activity" is, to use your word, is pathetic.

All of us have handled criticism immaturely at some point in our lives, but you're also old enough to have learned how to take it, so rise above it. That's called leadership, something that is in your job description.

The bottom line is that McCrystal comes off pretty poorly. Pederson, if he's going to run a blog, should not be trying to spread the idea of libel chill. Take it from someone who's been there.

Funny how this comes out right at the time time we put up an Out of Left Field post likening CIS football teams to Simpsons characters and noting that Regina's coach has some Comic Book Guy tendencies: their coach is always pointing out everyone else's flaws but seems oblivious to his own."
The great Canada West tradition of starting a week early continues in basketball, with 12 of 14 teams playing their season opener tonight. (Brandon and Regina are the slackers.) Everyone else appears to start next week sometime.

Saskatchewan is probably the team to watch this weekend, as they host UBC and UVic tonight and tomorrow. The Huskies were good, albeit overmatched at the nationals last year (which they hosted), but they're set up well for success this year.

During the season, we'll track the top 10 teams as per the official CIS poll, but I'm pretty sure they haven't put one out yet. Here's my attempt at one:

1. Simon Fraser
2. Alberta
3. Dalhousie
4. McMaster
5. UBC
6. Cape Breton
7. York
8. Victoria
9. Saskatchewan
10. Western

Some comments: the Clan's depth keeps them at the top despite one graduation and one bad back. UBC has the potential to stay in the top 5, but may fall if their losses are too much to overcome. And Dalhousie looks really good on paper, which is what the pre-season is all about.

Also, now's as good a time as any to bust out the season predictions, which are below. They're roughly based on three-year performance, the loss of ineligible players, and several wild guesses, with Bayes' theorem thrown in for good measure. Please, no wagering.

AUS (points)
46 Dalhousie
42 Cape Breton
33 Memorial
23 StFX
22 UNB
21 Saint Mary's
15 Acadia

13-3 Laval
10-6 Bishop's
8-8 UQAM
7-9 Concordia
2-14 McGill

Canada West
21-2 Simon Fraser
16-7 UBC
15-8 Victoria
9-14 Fraser Valley
8-15 Trinity Western
4-19 Thompson Rivers

17-5 Alberta
13-9 Saskatchewan
11-11 Calgary
5-17 Lethbridge

14-8 Regina
13-9 Winnipeg
9-13 Manitoba
2-20 Brandon

18-4 York
13-9 Toronto
11-11 Laurentian
11-11 Carleton
10-12 Queen's
7-15 Ryerson
7-15 Ottawa
1-21 RMC

18-4 McMaster
16-6 Western
13-9 Brock
12-10 Windsor
12-10 Guelph
10-12 Laurier
9-13 Lakehead
8-14 Waterloo
Big Man on Campus is the go-to for updates on the Windsor coaching situation.

The craziest part: Saskatchewan's Brian Towriss, with three Vanier Cups, is the longest-serving coach in the country. The next up on the list is a man who was won 29 of 87 games as a head coach across 11 seasons (and was 1-15 as a co-ordinator). That is not all Mike Morencie's doing, but nor was it with the however many coaching changes -- 15? 20? -- that have been made at Ontario football schools since 1998.

By The Grace of Gord (Big Man on Campus)
Daryl Stephenson could end up participating in a home playoff game after all -- he's been picked up by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Its not often that a player completes his university season and goes to the CFL, but Windsor missing the playoffs and Bombers tailback Fred Reid having sore ribs created just such an opportunity for Stephenson. The Sun Media report says "may dress."

The Bombers, of course, will host a playoff game in a couple weeks. Someone has to in the CFL's East Division, and it ain't one of the teams in Ontario.

Meantime, back at the ranch, there's a malfunction at the junction ...

Halberstadt calls for coach's ouster; 'He should be concerned with lack of progress he's making at his own job,' Mike Morencie says of Windsor councillor (Windsor Star)
One feeling that's been held here for a long time is that Canadian university football's individual awards are long overdue for an overhaul.

Fans talk about who should be up for rookie of the year, or the Presidents' Trophy for the top defender or for all-Canadian honours well before the playoffs. The schools and the conferences really should start trying to build a buzz, feed the speculation beast. Obviously, it takes a major organizing effort, but waiting until after the league playoffs are done can reduce it to an afterthought. The CIS should try to play up the awards. They don't have to go wild with it (just last week, I got a press release telling me that Ottawa basketball player Courtnay Pilypaitis, the point guard at Vermont in the America East, had been named a "pre-season mid-major all-America, second team"), but certainly can start much earlier.

The fans aren't waiting to discuss who should be coach, rookie or defensive player of the year, so why not give the consumers what they want?

In the U.S., the process sometimes starts before the season (you'll see a player listed a "pre-season Butkus Award nominee"), so doing it after every team has played seven games is not jumping the gun. In some cases it seemed best to list teammates together -- it's only fair when you haven't followed a team closely enough to know who the lynchpin is in their defence.

In that spirit, here is a very sketchy Baker's Dozen shortlist for the Presidents' Trophy. A lack of comprehensive stats makes it tough, so please, don't be shy with your own nominations:

Henoc Muamba, linebacker, St. Francis Xavier: Muamba, born in the Congo and from the Toronto area, is X's leading tackler, has a team-high three INTs from the linebacker spot and generally touches every area of the field. Muamba, along with his brother Cuancy Muamba and Mount A's Callan Exeter, the country's most profilic tackler, are just a few among several GTA players who are thriving outside Southern Ontario.

Al Birthwright, halfback; Jeff Zelinski, cornerback, Saint Mary's: Birthwright's 2007 highlight package and Zelinski's from last season (credit SMU for uploading the AUS all-star nomination videos to YouTube) gives you a window into what they're each about. Saint Mary's seems unlikely to have the Hec nominee out of the AUS, so they probably will.

Hamid Mahmoudi, halfback and kick returner, Montreal: Mahmoudi has six interceptions, the most in the country, and has also contributed as a return man. The Carabins allow 370 yards per game, but considering their strength of schedule, they have a very good defence. The Presidents' tends to be a linebacker-dominated award, so the 170-lb. d-back might face longer odds.

Marc-Antoine Beaudoin-Cloutier, d-end; Étienne Légaré, d-tackle; Samuel Lajoie, halfback, Laval: The Rouge et Or lost three of its top four tacklers from last season (Eric Maranda, Jean Petit-Frère and Sébastien Sejean). The other one, Mathieu Parent, has been limited to two games this season. They've actually allowed 30 yards less per game. It's never any one guy, but one of their guys better be in this discussion.

Mike Cornell, outside linebacker, Ottawa: Fifth-year senior Joe Barnes is the heart and soul of the Gee-Gees 'backers but Cornell provides the legs. The Gee-Gees' 4-4 season might hurt their chances at individual honours, even though their defensive stats still look respectable (those games vs. Waterloo and York helped).

Osie Ukwuoma, rush end, Queen's: Ukwuoma has helped the Golden Gaels allow the fewest yards per carry in the OUA and, with 9½ sacks, is three ahead of anyone who still has a regular-season game to play. His linemate, tackle Dee Sterling is also tied for second in the country with 7½ sacks. Do-it-all d-back Jim Allin is another big part of Queen's D.

John Surla, linebacker, Western: Surla leads the OUA's stingiest defence (in terms of yards allowed) in tackles (46) and sacks (6½ ). He's central in a 'Stangs group, along with fifth-year DBs Matt Carapella and Corey McNair and Vaughn Martin in the front four.

Bryce McCall, safety; Ivan Brown, tackle, Saskatchewan: McCall should have some rookie-of-the-year consideration, just going by the stats. Saskatchewan is third in total defence, so we'll list their leaders in interceptions and sacks. Need some help here!

UBC rush end Scott McCuaig: Not many defensive linemen are listed as leading their team in tackles -- enough said.

(Calgary and Simon Fraser could also stand to have a player mentioned. Linebacker Chase Moore from the Dinos? DB Anthony Deslauriers from SFU? Please advise.)

As a footnote, there should be more position awards in football to help jazz up the all-Canadian awards. It would also help keep alive the memory of the game's greats. I've been on about this before, but how about having the Chris Flynn Award for the best quarterback. Imagine how it would sound to have people talking about a running back being up for "the Éric Lapointe," a linebacker being up for the "Mike Emery," or having "the Fantuz" or "the Sapunjis" for the best pass receiver.

It's worth starting the discussion.
Here's the deal. There are four weeks left until Vanier Cup week, so just for fun, let's do it Survivor-style.

Here are eight Hec Crighton candidates. We'll pare it down by two after this week, and cut one more after each week to get down to three finalists by Vanier week.

8. Mike Faulds, Western QB
Led OUA with 63.5% completion percentage and 2,596 passing yards for a 7-1 team
Why him? Bottom line, he's had a good final season and merits some consideration.
Why not: One could say the exact same things about two other OUA passers -- Laurier's Luke Thompson and Queen's Dan Brannagan.

7. Liam Mahoney, Concordia QB
1443 passing yards (8.5 per pass) and 6 TD against 8 INT; 427 rushing yards (6.2 avg.) and 6 TD
Why him? There should be three players from Quebec on an eight-man list. It was a toss-up between Mahoney or Montreal defensive back-kick returner Hamid Mahmoudi, the national leader in interceptions, although a DB winning is far-fetched. McGill's Matt Connell is also a longlister, even with his team's two winless season.
Why not: Mahoney is not the best QB in his conference -- yet.

6. Kelly Hughes/Gary Ross, Mount Allison QB and wideout
Hughes leads the AUS with 1,706 passing yards and is the country's leading quarterback rusher with 524 yards (6.4 avg.).

Ross, an all-purpose flanker in the mould of one-time Heisman Trophy winners such as Tim Brown or Desmond Howard, depending on which side you take in the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry), leads the AUS with 675 receiving yards. He also has another 900 through returns and rushing.
Why them? Because Mount A doesn't win a game without them, and it's cute to have a joint nomination.
Why not: Again, there is the whole aspect of being a low-profile team with a losing record. One of them should be the AUS nominee. Can someone make a pick?

5. Matt Walter, Calgary RB
Numbers: Canada West's leading rusher with 829 yards (6.2 average)
Why him: He is the safer nominee for Canada West, since the Dinos will likely finish 6-2 and he's been healthy all season, putting up sizable raw numbers. A deep playoff run by the Dinos would help raise his profile.
Why not him: Calgary just doesn't seem like a sexy anything, rightly or wrongly.

4. Laurence Nixon, U of S QB
Numbers: Has only played five of the Huskies' seven games, throwing for 1,295 yards (9.25 per pass) with 7 TD against 8 interceptions; his team also averages 27 points per game in a conference where only one other team is averaging 20.
Why him: He is clearly Can West's best pivot this season.
Why not him: Injuries have hurt his counting stats.

3. Mike Giffin, Queen's RB
1,061 rushing yards (first OUA, second CIS, on 7.2 per carry), leads country with 14 touchdowns on the highest-scoring team in Canada. Has led country in touchdowns and gained 1,000 yards in two straight seasons.
Why him: Giffin has built up a good body of work over two seasons.
Why not him: There is a back in a more balanced conference who's gained more yards, arguably against better competition.

2. Benoît Groulx, Laval QB
Quebec-leading 2,148 yards passing (9.5 per pass, best for a non-Ontario QB) on record-pace 74.55% completion percentage, with the country's best TD-to-INT radio (11-2).
Why him: Not to get repetitive, but it is high time the Hec Crighton Trophy selection acknowledged how Laval has been a leader in changing the football landscape in Canada, even if it has not adapted to them. Groulx has the good.
Why not him: The big out clauses are the "game manager" and "system QB" stigmas. Laval is more likely to have another 70% passer before Bishop's has another Hec candidate (only one Quebec school player, McGill's Dave Fleiszer in 1969, has ever won).

1. Jamall Lee, Bishop's RB
Nation's leading rusher with 1,106 yards (6.8 per carry) and has 10 touchdowns, the only player outside the OUA in double-digits and four more than other Quebec player.
Why him: Lee would still be leading the Q in rushing even if you set aside that 391-yard chunk of yardage he bit off against McGill, , the 26th-ranked team in Duane Rollins' new top 27. It's hard to think of any offensive player west of the Maritimes who matters more to
Why not him: It is tough to win the Hec on a non-playoff team. Bishop's (3-4), must overcome a stout Montreal run defence this Saturday just to nab the final Q playoff berth and then would be looking at trip to face the barbarians at PEPS in a first-round playoff game. That limits his exposure.

New: Walter, Mahoney
Dropping out: Luke Derkson of Regina and James Green of St. FX, who have the best numbers in their conferences but have injury concerns; Ottawa QB Josh Sacobie and UBC defensive end Scott McCuaig.
The question is now inevitable: is Matt Connell the best quarterback in CIS history? This is very difficult to answer ... his 9-30 record since he took over in 2004 doesn't play in his favour [but] we'll always wonder what he could have done if he played for a better team ... Would his statistics be better, worse, the same? We can't be sure.
-- Rémi Aboussouan, RDS [translation mine, Google translation here]

It's a fair question. If you stuck Connell in place of Benoît Groulx in the Laval offence (or put Groulx on McGill), how big would the difference be?

We know the Redmen love to throw the ball, either because they have Connell or because they don't have a running game or both. Their large number of passing plays will inevitably make their quarterback's raw totals more impressive, but without any serious threats on the ground, you'd think McGill's opponents would be able to cover the pass better than they have.

We also know that, by at least one measure, Connell has consistently been middle-of-the-pack or worse on a per-attempt basis (2008 looks to be more of the same). But he scores higher when his team gets better, so it's not clear whether the tail or dog is doing the wagging here.

It's difficult to objectively evaluate a quarterback in the CIS given the limited statistical information we have, and few people a) have seen enough of most CIS QBs and b) can separate their abilities from that of their receivers to judge where Connell falls on the best-to-worst list. Any attempt to play the "what if he always threw to an average receiver behind an average offensive line?" game will just bring us back to where we started.

Admittedly, it seems a little farfetched that Matt Connell even could be considered the best quarterback in Quebec, let alone the rest of the country, but that doesn't mean he wasn't extremely valuable to his team. In true Canadian middle-ground style, maybe that's the best answer.
The Regina Leader-Post is reporting that Regina tailback Luke Derkson will miss Friday's must-win game vs. Manitoba.

The Bisons allow the fewest yards per carry in Canada West (Saskatchewan has allowed the fewest yards). Generally, having to go to the No. 2 running back is not the end of the world compared, say, losing a quarterback, starting offensive lineman or your best one-on-one cover guy on defence. Austin Kappel (don't know a lot about him, sorry) rushed 21 times for 115 yards last week vs. Alberta.

Most of you probably don't need prompting to make Tim Switzer's Campus Chatter a regular stop ... it is gratifying to see more papers having their high school/university reporter have another outlet (especially if you got laughed at for suggesting it in your own newsroom almost two years ago, when no one had one).
The Guelph Mercury's Greg Layson, not to crab his act, has a post that more than a few people having been praying to read for quite some time:
"I have on good authority — VERY good authority — that (Mike) Morencie will not be back next season as head coach of the Windsor Lancers. Nope. In fact, (athletic director) Gord Grace will take over for at least the 2009 season, if not the 2010 season.

"Morencie is under contract and member of the union at the university ... he can be 'repositioned' within the athletic department.

"And, apparently, that's the plan. Supposedly by repositioning Morencie, he's not fired, can't grieve and still runs out his contract. And, by Grace coaching, he doesn't make any more or any less money and doesn't have to pay a new coach — or two coaches at once, as the case would be."
— Big Man on Campus

This has been coming for a long time, considering Morencie's 30-73-1 record across 13 seasons. It is about the wins and losses, unless you're the general manager of a major junior hockey franchise in Kingston, Ontario. Who knows, maybe the first-rate pot-stirring by Windsor city councillor Alan Halberstadt brought the coaching situation to a head. Halberstadt is even planning to poll readers of his blog on whether a change should be made.

(Update: Windsor is denying it, or is just in denial, but Layson is standing by his story. He must feel like Ben Bradlee!)
One powerhouse looks set to dominate while another may struggle to replace graduating players...and if "Haligonian" isn't the best demonym in the world, I don't know what is...

Break up the Pandas: Alberta, who did very well to manage a first-place finish in the Canada West Group of Death Central Division in '07-'08, knocked off a team from every other conference this weekend. They now have an 8-0 record in preseason play, including a win over UBC on October 4th that would be impressive if it counted for anything. Speaking of which, the T-Birds and Pandas play this weekend in the second regular season game for each team. Mark your calendars.

Look out for Dal: Haligonian Chad Lucas pointed out in September that the Tigers are "built to win" and so they did this weekend. Wish I could tell you who the standouts were, but the AUS must be saving money on boxscores for now. Apparently Alex Legge was player of the game at some point.

That's why they renamed the Metro stop: UQAM has a 4-0 preseason record. They won three in Waterloo this weekend and may be set up well this year to take a run at the Rouge et Or.

Maybe if she also donated $100 million to the business school... McMaster, the best team east of the Central Time Zone, was pounded by Windsor, 94-56 at a tournament in Toronto. Mac only shot 16 of 62 from the floor that game, with 34 of those shots coming from Lindsay DeGroot and Taylor Smith, and were outrebounded 48 to 22. They fared better in their other two games at Ryerson (Saint Mary's and Laval, not sure why the Rams aren't involved here), but their reliance on DeGroot, who's a fantastic player, may prove to be a disadvantage this year.

But what would Matt Stairs say? An unfortunate preseason for UNB, who went 0-6 including three straight losses to Winnipeg: 77-59, 70-59, and 64-60. Maybe if they kept playing each other those scores would converge to a tie. It looks like the Varsity Reds no longer have Kathleen Singh and Leah Corby, two of their top players from last year, so it may be difficult to repeat or exceed that 11-9 record out in Frederiction.

Lani who? Simon Fraser and Calgary are about the only teams capable of triple digits against decent opponents, and the Clan did that against Concordia yesterday in Winnipeg. With leads of 8, 21, and 26 after the first three quarters, it really wasn't much of a game. Lisa Tindle (profiled by the Province) sank five treys as part of her 18 points (also, 6 rebounds and a pair of steals) in the Concordia game and Laurelle Weigl picked up 40 of her own in 41 minutes across that game and Saturdays' 78-52 win over Manitoba. The Clan ran up a 15-2 lead against the Bisons and kept going from there.

Speaking of SFU, the on-court whereabouts of logophile Kate Hole have yet to be determined. Search parties have reached Burnaby Mountain and will report back soon.
The first weekend after Thanksgiving is where the pre-season tournaments really begin in earnest ... here's a sampling of what went down in men's basketball over the weekend.
  • Cape Breton scored a big upset, getting a 23-point, five-assist game from Tremaine Fraser to upset St. Francis Xavier 82-79 in the final of the X-Men's home tournament.

    Philip Nkrumah scored 19 points and had 11 rebounds for X in the final.

    UPEI's splendid soph, Manock Lual, put up 25 points in the Panthers' consolation-game win over UNB.
  • It looks like Nick Magalas put the U of T Varsity Blues on his back in their 90-78 win
    over Western in their final game of the McGill Redbird Invitational in Montréal: Thirty-three points, four assists. He outplayed the Mustangs point guard tag team of Matthew Curtis and Ryan Barbeau.

    Keenan Jeppesen, of course, is back at Western and he had 35 points, 11 rebounds for the Mustangs, who should be right in the thick of the OUA West. Their four guards shot 7-of-35 and still it was just a 12-point spread.

    McGill beat Western earlier in the tournament, by the way.

  • Andrew's additions:
    In other action in the McGill tournament, Queen's claimed the tournament championship [Mike Grobe, gogaelsgo.com] with a 2-1 record and a +12 point differential. They beat McGill 71-67 in the final game and knocked off Toronto 77-65 Saturday, but fell 79-75 to Western Friday. Mitch Leger poured in 31 points against McGill and added 10 rebounds. He also scored 18 and 24 points respectively in the first two games and was named tournament MVP. Queen's guard Baris Ondul was also named to the all-tournament team, along with fellow guards Matthew Thornhill and Moustafa El Zanaty of McGill and Toronto's Magalas. Oddly, Western's Jeppesen was the only forward selected. McGill finished the tournament 2-1 with a +4 point differential, while Toronto and Western finished 1-2 with +6 and -22 differentials respectively. Queen's is back in action next week at the Laval Invitational, featuring the Rouge et Or, Carleton and the Waterloo Warriors [/Andrew].

  • Carleton got a good push in its final two games of the House-Laughton tourney in Ottawa, beating UVic 73-64 after a 73-60 verdict Saturday vs. Laval, which is adjusting to life after J.P. Morin.

    Stu Turnbull scored 32 points for Carleton in the UVic game, helping the Ravens roll with the punches after the Vikes ran off a 19-4 third quarter. Will they be calling him Big Shot Stu?
  • Memorial had three OUA East teams out to St. John's for a weekend. Ottawa went 3-0, including a last-second 83-82 win over Ryerson.

    The Gee-Gees have UPEI, Guelph and McGill in town for their home tournament next weekend in Ottawa.
This is going to be a continuing effort throughout the season. Mark Wacyk's cishoops.ca is irreplaceable, but we'll try our best. Again, contributors are always welcome, especially those outside Ontario (hint-hint). Just fire off an e-mail to neatesager@yahoo.ca.
There are million stories in the naked city ... there are Nine Stories in Canadian university football, pending what happens in today's Sherbrooke-Laval matchup.

  1. 'Lectric Lee: Bishop's Jamall Lee wins his second straight CIS rushing title, going off for 189 yards to help keep his Gaiters alive for the playoffs with a 33-25 upset of No. 5 Concordia. With 1,106 yards and one game left, he's also played his way into the Hec Crighton talk.
  2. Write it in Red ink: McGill's combo of Matt Connell and Erik Galas become the all-time CIS leaders in passing yardage and receptions made. Galas has an outside shot at the 200-catch plateau with one game left.
  3. Same Dog time, same Dog channel: The Saskatchewan Huskies secure home-field advantage throughout the Canada West playoffs with a 16-4 win over Simon Fraser.
  4. Giffinator goes on the fritz: Queen's two-time OUA rushing leader Mike Giffin suffers a right knee injury on the first play of the No. 2-ranked Golden Gaels' win over Waterloo; he's to be re-evaluated.
  5. Dino-sty: No. 4 Calgary can have its best season of this millennium after coming from behind to beat Manitoba and improve 5-2. (The last time the Dinos went 6-2 was 2000.)
  6. The playoffs start ... now: Next week's Regina-Manitoba and Bishop's-Montréal games are playoff games in Canada West and Quebec.

    The Manitoba Bisons could be without top receiver Terry Firr, who pulled himself out of the Calgary game. Those wacky wideouts, what are you gonna do?
  7. Mac is WAC: With a wide-open attack somewhat similar to what you'd expect to see from Boise State or Hawai'i, McMaster wins four of its last five to get the final playoff berth in the OUA, where they'll play Laurier in the Oct. 25 quarter-final.
  8. Intriguing is a French word for who knows what to expect: Ottawa turns its finale against U of T from a one-half job to an all-day job. Regardless, the Gee-Gees are headed to Guelph for an OUA quarter-final. The Gryphons have had their own tendency to go madly off in all directions this season.
  9. Take next week off: St. FX will play Mount Allison in the Atlantic conference semi and Saint Mary's, puzzling as ever yet nevertheless 6-1, gets the winner in the Loney Bowl on Nov. 15 in Halifax.
This post will get updated throughout the weekend ...

Canada West

No. 4 Calgary 25, Manitoba 18:
Like Ontario, the Canada West playoffs start next week -- Manitoba is at Regina and the winner is in, plain and simple.

The Bisons have played better with each week. Calgary has got it done with defence and the running game all season. Today didn't seem to be much different, with Chase Moore making 10 solo tackles on D and Matt Walter running 23 times for 147 yards, including a 31-yarder to pay dirt in the second half. Of note: On the go-ahead touchdown drive, a 10-play 73-yard march, receiver Taylor Altillo kept the drive moving with an 11-yard run on a third-and-5. Was that a fake punt? Calgary coach Blake Nill has been known to pull that one.

Thankfully, Regina coach Frank McCrystal is not the outspoken type, so he probably won't have much to say ahead of next week's big game.

No. 6 Saskatchewan 16, No. 8 Simon Fraser 4: When in doubt with Canada West, just take the Huskies. Saskatchewan only needs to beat UBC to have home-field advantage for the playoffs after getting it down in rain-soaked Saskatoon.

Apparently those B.C. boys aren't used to operating in the rain. Simon Fraser was held to two conceded safeties and just 203 yards net offence. Tyler O'Gorman and Travis Gorski, who scored the only touchdown of the game in the third quarter, each had 100-yard games for the Green Dogs.

Regina 38, Alberta 31: If you had told people that the Rams' Teale Orban would throw five touchdown passes and Alberta's Quade Armstrong would throw five interceptions and asked them to pick the point spread, most would not have said seven points.


Bishop's 33, No. 5 Concordia 25:
Boy, the Gaiters became a fly in the ointment, setting up a three-way battle for the final two QUFL playoff spots with an eight-point win. Jamall Lee ran for 189 yards and might have zoomed up in the Hec Crighton handicapping, depending on what Benoit Groulx does for Laval today, while Andrew Collymore made a huge fourth-quarter interception after BU had gone ahead for good.

(An injury kept Mike Giffin from topping up his stats for Queen's.)

Bishop's (3-4) is at Montréal (4-3) next week while the Stingers (4-3) travel to Sherbrooke (5-1 entering their game at Laval on Sunday).

Montréal seems better than they're generally given credit for, but they're also known as a very mercurial team, so one wouldn't put it past them to lose next week. Is it fair to say the team who wins that one will be the only who keeps their penalty yardage below triple-digits? (Is that even possible?)

The Carabins will be at home, though, and they have a tough defence that can do a number on run-heavy teams (just ask Saint Mary's).

Concordia, who is arguably the No. 3 team in the country, is in no matter what and could still get home field for the QUFL semi-final. Their game at Sherbrooke still stacks up as a semi-final preview, but there's some question over where or if they'll play.

If the Stingers end up 4-4, they have the tiebreaker over the Carabins and Gaiters (whom they beat by 15 in the first matchup). Montréal can end up third, fourth or fifth.

In the event of a 3-way tie (Concordia loses, Bishop's wins), it would come down to the head-to-head. Concordia is plus-8, Montreal is minus-1 and the Gaiters are minus-7. Bishop's would need at least a three-point win to pull even with Montreal, who they would then have the tiebreaker over.

Montréal 45 McGill 23: Redmen QB Matt Connell supplanted former McMaster star Ben Chapdelaine as the all-time leader in pass yardage, finishing with 10,201 for his career after a 320-yard day.

Connel went past 10,000 for his career with a short pass to Erik Galas (who's from Ottawa!) in the second quarter. Galas caught 13 passes, bringing him to 190 for his career and topping Andy Fantuz' career mark with one game to spare in his fifth and final season (bear in mind, Dandy Andy only played four seasons, albeit in the OUAin't).

The achievement will have its critics, seeing as McGill is oh for the last two seasons and runs a gimmicky shotgun offence. One also has to consider the amount of pass protection Connell has had at times and the defences McGill faces.

No. 1 Laval 41, No. 9 Sherbrooke 3: Ho, hum. Laval isn't showing too many chinks in its armour — Benoît Groulx was 21-of-36 for 283 yards and Christopher Milo booted five field goals. The Vert et Or once again flip-flopped their quarterbacks.


McMaster 40, Windsor 11:
A pick-six by Mac's Kurt Morrison in the third quarter opened up a three-touchdown spread for the Marauders, who will have a rematch against Laurier in the OUA quarter-final next weekend. They're fully deserving of their playoff berth.

The Lancers committed eight turnovers and played two-hand touch against Mac's Joey Nemet (20 rushes for 172 yards), which makes it totally fair to wonder about the coaching. Mike Morencie is a good man, but he's becoming to OUA football what the Kingston Frontenacs' Larry Mavety is to the Ontario Hockey League.

Mac coach Stefan Ptaszek has a potent offence. Mac QB Ryan Fantham threw for 235 yards and three TDs. Can Mac stop anyone in the playoffs, though?

Please spare a thought for Windsor's Daryl Stephenson. He no doubt wanted more than anything to win a playoff game at least once in his career. He deserved a lot better than to go out on a 12-carry, 23-yard day.

Windsor rush end Chad Cossette entered today in a 3-way tie for the OUA sack crown. He got one in the fourth quarter, but Osie Ukwuoma of Queen's, got two against Waterloo to finish with a league-best 9½.

Ottawa 39, U of T 30: The good news is that Ottawa has a game against Guelph next week. Let's refrain from calling it the Bart Simpson Bowl, the Underachievers' Cup, since the winner would likely end up meeting Queen's in an OUA semi-final.

Despite all that's happened, they still have a chance to do some damage, especially since all-everything receiver Ivan Birungi will likely be back for next week. At the same time, Ottawa has faced first-half deficits of 37-3, 31-0 and 23-10 during the past four weeks. They got by this weekend by having bigger and faster athletes than Toronto -- you could see the Varsity Blues' shoulders start to slump by about the middle of the third quarter. Give them credit, though, they hung in until the end.

Davie Mason proved to be a more effective closer than anyone the Tampa Bay Rays had in their bullpen on Thursday night -- he was taking Toronto tacklers for rides during two fourth-quarter TD drives.

Josh Sacobie, who took a whack on his throwing hand early in the game, was below 200 yards passing for Ottawa, so Ben Chapdelaine still has the OUA passing yardage mark. Ottawa has about a three-play offence -- Davie Mason up the middle, the stretch play to Felix Desjardins-Potvin behind the left-side combo of Phillippe David and Frank Spera, and an inside zone play. They more or less mothballed the passing game.

Watching from the Out of Left Field world headquarters (a ground-floor, one-bedroom apartment in Nepean), bald and overweight, I almost wanted to be out there with the U of T team. They played with a lot of heart, and even though they were physically overmatched, it was a two-point game with 2½ minutes left.

The twins on U of T who hail from Ottawa, receiver Cory and safety Kyle Kennedy, have come up big. Cory Kennedy, who was playing his final game in his hometown, caught Toronto's first TD, and Kyle Kennedy had an interception and a pass breakup.

Toronto's Jeff LaForge will also be able to say that he scored touchdowns in his last three games against the Gee-Gees. The game before that, a 72-0 loss in 2005, Toronto didn't score at all.

Toronto could have been up 31-10 in the first half. They settled for a single after being in goal-to-go. After the third touchdown, a moon shot kickoff bounced all the way to the end zone, where U of T d-back Willie Sharpe nearly fell on the ball for a TD before it was covered for the single.

No. 2 Queen's 38, Waterloo 22: The Golden Gaels' Mike Giffin took a whack on his right knee on his team's first offensive play and did not return, but CFRC 101.9 FM is reporting that it was only a precaution. Queen's finishes 8-0 for the first time in school history and has its first unbeaten season since 1989.

The Giffinator's backups, Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien, each ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns after Luke Balch rallied Waterloo and got them within eight points.

Dan Brannagan had three TDs through the air for Queen's, two to Scott Valberg. Valberg made nine receptions for 142 yards, which would bring him to 1,013 for the season, meaning he and Giffin (1,061 rushing) are probably the second runner-receiver combo to each gain 1,000 yards in the same season. (If anyone knows if it's been done by any other team -- say Calgary in the mid-'90s during the Don Blair era).

Balch had a nice day for UW -- he completed 10 of his first 11 for the Warriors and also had a 47-yard run. The upshot for Queen's is they got through this game, and finish 8-0 in the regular season for the first time in school history.

No. 3 Western 47, Guelph 16 There's not much to say here, other than one would have figured the Gryphons would do better seeing as the 'Stangs have nothing on the line. Guelph basically pulled the chute once Western opened a 28-16 halftime lead.

The Ottawa-Guelph quarter-final will match up teams and quarterbacks who have dealt with more than their fair share of frustration this season. Justin Dunk could blow sky-high, especially against Ottawa's defenders, who like to talk on the field.

No. 10 Laurier 50, York 13: Please don't take this as hectoring ... the Lions did manage a couple milestones today. They scored two touchdowns in the same game for the first time all season, with Jason Marshall ending a 314-minute, 26-second end-zone drought with a two-yard scoring run late in the first half.

York avoided going the whole season without a touchdown pass, when rookie running back Ryan Rowe caught a five-yarder from graduating quarterback Bart Zemanek with 1:57 to play. There isn't much else to say, other to try to make light of York's futility this season and say hopefully it gets better for Mike McLean in 2009.


No. 7 Saint Mary's 31, Mount Allison 16:
The Huskies like to play with fire, don't they? Mount Allison had a couple red-zone turnovers and this was in doubt until Jeff Zelinski returned an interception 71 yards for a touchdown with 2:34 to play. Saint Mary's is just on cruise control until the national semi-final, but they haven't had a signature performance, save for perhaps their eight-point win at Bishop's.

Mount A's Kelly Hughes passed for 273 yards and served as his own running game, rushing 17 times for 167 yards. He probably should be the Atlantic Conference MVP and Hec Crighton trophy nominee. Gary Ross also totalled 305 all-purpose yards for the Mounties.

St. Francis Xavier 31, Acadia 20: The AUS remains as loosey-goosey are ever, but at least the playoff seedings are set -- why not take next week off? Saint Mary's (6-1) will await the winner of the Mount Allison-St. FX semi-final in Antigonish on Nov. 8.

X-Men tailback James Green sat out this game after hurting his knee the week before. What's the story there? The Axemen (0-7) lost by 11 points or less for the fourth time this season.
There's a comment thread on the Dot-Org about the Okanagan Sun to the CIS meme ... there was an article in the Kelowna Daily Courier late last week about UBC Okanagan's bid and the tie-in with the junior program.

Pretty much everyone had the same thought: If UBC and Simon Fraser join the NCAA, would that increase the likelihood of having a Canada West football team in the Okanagan, ensuring the league has six teams? Vancouver radio personality Jim Mullin also let this drop:
"Don't be surprised if you hear two years from now that all of the T-Birds sports programs in (Canada West) are sent to Kelowna, minus basketball and volleyball.

"And then football would be dropped from the Point and operate in the interior.

"SFU in the GNAC (Great Northwest Athletic Conference, which is NCAA D-2) would be the only team in college football in the Lower Mainland."
There is not much original to add here, other than to say that if a guy from Ontario knows about the Okanagan Sun, they obviously have quite the reputation, and a lot to offer. One of the commenters also pointed out that they would bring an element that's currently lacking in Canada West football -- a smaller city where junior hockey and amateur football are the big games in town. The other three conferences have plenty of schools which have that setup.

The Sun lost the B.C. junior final by 40 points to Vancouver Island on Saturday, so maybe (kidding) they're looking for an easier road to a national title. (Incidentally, if you're wondering what became of defensive back Rhys Coppens, who had a great rookie season with the Alberta Golden Bears in 2007, he's playing for Vancouver Island.)
Please take a few minutes to read about how Laurier's standout freshman wide receiver Shamawd Chambers is dealing with a family tragedy.

Football helps fill void for mourning Chambers (David Grossman, Toronto Star, Oct. 18)
A tip of the cap is due to a couple McMaster Marauders, Lindsay DeGroot of the women's basketball team and men's basketball coach Joe Raso.

At the Darcel Wright tournament in Toronto, DeGroot scored 43 points Friday in Mac's 92-81 win over Laval, a single-game record for any Mac baller, female or male. She scored 25 of Mac's 40 first-half points to tide her team over until some other scorers warmed up, and hit a couple big treys in the second half to help the Marauders take the lead for good in a matchup of two teams who have been regular visitors to the Final 8.

Raso, meantime, earned his 400th career coaching win in the McMaster men's 86-71 win over the Winnipeg Wesmen out at the U of Manitoba Reebok Invitational. Needless to say, it takes a whole lot of steadfastness to stick with coaching long enough to collect 400 W's. Mac is going to be an intriguing team to watch in the OUA West this season, for sure.

I know this has been said before, but we would like to get more women's basketball coverage on here -- at the very least, an equivalent of the Top 10 tracker we posted every weekend throughout last winter. Again, the door is open to anyone who'd like to take it on, especially if you're in Western Canada, hint-hint-hint ... fire an e-mail off to neatesager@yahoo.ca.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses out on news and notes about the teams in Quebec because of the language barrier. But there are some pretty good teams there, so let's put our Grade 9 French to work and see what's going on:

Rémi Aboussouan (RDS) echoed others' thoughts about the quality of play in the QUFL vs. the AUS, throwing out phrases like "virtual domination" and referencing the 142-75 scoring margin in the interlocking games. I'm generally wary of sports columnists' opinions, but Aboussouan appears to be a cut above. In his latest column, we find other tidbits:

He's not too fond of Sherbrooke, observing that they have "this annoying habit of lethargic play in the first half," pointing out that a quarterback switch from Jean-Philippe Shoiry to Charles Saint-Martin was necessary in the Acadia game since the Vert et Or offence was "going nowhere," and dismissing their defensive performance in the 32-2 win because it came against the weak Axemen defence.

With respect to the disappointing season at Bishop's, he says we should "point the finger at the one-dimensional offence, or a defence that gave up 217 rushing yards per game. Aboussouan also briefly touches on Gaiters DB Harrison Maloney, who has the fourth-most tackles in the province, as a possible rookie of the year.

Jean-François Tardif caught up with Laval's rookie linebacker Samaël Lavaud in Le Soleil. Lavaud, who was committed to the University of Colorado until his scholarship was given to an American player, was sort of excited about opening the season in his hometown against McGill. But like most players, he'd rather face better teams than the Redmen. And interestingly, he doesn't consider the jump from CEGEP to the CIS to be very large.

Tardif is also looking forward to today's Laval-Sherbrooke game, saying Laval's offence will face a test against the strong Vert et Or defence. Laval's offensive coordinator, Justin Ethier, appears to have been amused by the suggestion that Sherbrooke's defence is their hidden strength: "A hidden strength? When a team's 5-1, it's because they play good football."

There's also a standard piece on the emergence of Rouge et Or receiver Mathieu Picard, who (surprise!) likes playing for a good team and is friends with all the other receivers.

Another note: when the latest Top 10 poll came out, RDS reported "les Gaels de Queen’s" were in second place. They aren't Golden in either official language!
Friday's Moncton Times-Transcript noted that "everybody knows the playoffs is the short 28-game regular season" in AUS men's hockey.

No kidding. All four season openers tonight were four one-goal games. Dalhousie and UPEI were 4-3 winners in overtime over St. Francis Xavier and UNB, respectively. Acadia won by the same score over Saint Mary's in regulation — Scott Tregunna, who helped the Kitchener Rangers get to the Memorial Cup last season, got the game-winner for the Axemen. Moncton beat St. Thomas 3-2, with Mathieu Labrie scoring the deciding goal with 89 seconds left — Matt Davis, the Tommies goalie, made 45 saves. 

(Finally, a mention of Saint Thomas University — it's only taken us 13 months to bust out the Tommies label.)

All told, only one of 11 games so far this week has had more than a two-goal spread. That involved Carleton, which is in its second season, smacking a traditional power, Trois-Rivières, 5-2. The Patriotes' trademark has been getting teams into penalty trouble and then going on a power-play scoring spree, but the tables got turned: Carleton scored four while a man up, two each from Ryan Berard and Francis Walker.

It bears repeating. Perhaps more so than any other team sport in the CIS, you have a good chance of seeing a good close game if you head out to a hockey contest. (Of course, I would say that just to jinx my chances of seeing a good one when I take in McGill-Carleton tomorrow here in Ottawa. That game is a 3 p.m. start on Streaming Sports Network Canada, by the way.)
It all comes back to old "Canada has too much geography and not enough history."

By now everyone has had a chance to chew over the story that Simon Fraser "is ready to make the move to NCAA Division II and is awaiting board approval." (Marc Weber, Vancouver Province) The dot-orgers have a good thread going.

Simon Fraser ready to jump to NCAA (Marc Weber, Canwest News Service)
Many people have tried to compare CIS football to Division 2 in the NCAA.

Well, you're in lucky. If you're a Rogers subscriber, it's been offering a free preview of College Sports Television (CSTV) to its customers -- channel 416 for this Ottawa subscriber. CSTV does have a D-2 game of the week, so if it's on your cable system, take a look-see and decide for yourself.
This is a totally self-indulgent, purely ego-driven, Ontario-centric post, but you should have fair warning ... there are still Doornekamps out there, playing basketball:
When watching Laura Doornekamp play basketball, it is hard to believe she is only 15 years old.

The Ernestown Eagles guard ... is mature beyond her years on the court and is one of those glue players craved by all coaches for her basketball IQ.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. This is a girl in Grade 10 (although she played senior basketball in Grade 9, like a certain cousin who's now the star of the Carleton men's team, if you want to draw totally glib and inappropriate comparisons). It's more amusing than anything that the family lineage has produced yet another basketball player. That would make it, what, a dozen?

Eagle does all the right things; Junior-aged Doornekamp mature beyond her years (Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig-Standard)
Just one question: Why doesn't every team play on the Thursday before Thanksgiving?

You see, Thanksgiving weekend is the first long weekend after Labour Day. And it's the first opportunity students have to head home before reading week.

And trust me, the exodus is en masse Friday when classes end, leaving only dedicated locals, staff and road weary family members of football players on hand for a Saturday afternoon football game. -- Greg Layson
It's a legitimate question, both from a competitive and marketing perspective. On the latter count, the announced attendance for the three games played last Saturday in Guelph, Kingston and Waterloo was less than 5,000. That's not to say each school didn't try to get a crowd out -- in Queen's case, 2,100 on Thanksgiving weekend is almost double what they've had some years.

Greg's point is a good one. A team only has four home games, guaranteed. Why should one be a near write-off? Canada West actually took Thanksgiving weekend off entirely during the brief period when it had six teams, before Simon Fraser's addition to the league result in having to stagger each team's bye week.

Football fumbled by OUA (Greg Layson, Guelph Mercury, Oct. 15)
Here's where the offences and defences stand with one or two games left, depending on where you are in the country:

Those overlapping teams ("SMON") are Saint Mary's and Concordia. And to answer Neate's question from last week...no. But they're really close.

Check out those CanWest teams (save for Saskatchewan): none of them have given up nor scored a lot of points. I guess not having any also-rans in the conference helps keep the good teams from running away with the title, but scoring is really down out west this year.

It's up in Ontario, though that's probably all because of York.

Speaking of the Lions, they were dropped from the chart this week, because what's the point? McGill's on there, but barely. And does anyone want to offer odds on the Gaels (at Waterloo on Saturday) not going 8-0?
This site's founder, Mr. Mirtle, tackled the UBC-to-the-NCAA story for today's Globe & Mail, tying it in the companion issues of expansion (who to let in, who to keep out) and realignment (who should play whom).
" 'An organization that restricts the desire of an institution to seek excellence, at whatever they're doing whether that's academically or that's athletically, to me doesn't serve the interests of any of the institutions,' (Acadia AD Brian) Heaney said.

" 'This may cause us to gather and discuss and come away with an enhanced model for all university sport in Canada. And that would be a positive."
Let us hope that's not just whistling past the graveyard. One cannot oppose UBC's interest in going South without scrutinizing the current situation -- it bears asking what the CIS plans to do for the schools who are about more than having a team for the sake of having a team.

That means redrawing league lines to reflect each institution's enrolment, athletics budget and commitment to a particular sport. It's not a tough concept to understand. It is a tough one to apply, especially with the travel involved for schools in Western Canada.

CIS mulls options in face of possible UBC defection (James Mirtle, globesports.com)
Nine stories from a weekend in CIS football:

  1. Down go the Dogs: No. 3 Saint Mary's loses at home to Saint Mary's in Blunder Bowl '08, and No. 4 Saskatchewan squanders a 16-point lead to lose 20-17 at Manitoba.
  2. Gentlemen, you will have to wait a week: Ottawa's Josh Sacobie and McGill's Matt Connell were each held below their usual yardage, meaning it will be a race next week to be the first man to pass for 10,000 yards in the CIS.

    Connell is 119 yards away, and has two games left to top up his totals. Sacobie is 239 yards away from the mark entering his final home game against U of T.

    Regina's Teale Orban, meantime, became the most prolific passer in Canada West history and is now up to 8,991 yards with two games left in his final season.
  3. Dinos take show on road: No. 6 Calgary completes a perfect home season with a 31-5 rout of Regina, getting a 200-yard game from Matt Walters. The Dinos have a return trip to Manitoba (3-3) and finish up at Alberta.
  4. Can West craziness: It's an old refrain, but any one of Calgary, Saskatchewan and Simon Fraser could finish first.
  5. Atlantic angst: AUS schools lose three crossover games by a combined 100 points. St. FX's main man, tailback James Green, suffers injury in the X-Men's cakewalk over McGill.
  6. Heeeeeeeeeeee's Groul-eat! Statgeeks squeal in delight -- Laval's Benoît Groulx improves his completion percentage to 77.7% with
  7. Luke and the Hawks: No. 10 Laurier has won four straight since decisive losses to OUA front-runners Western and Queen's early in the season. Super sophomore QB Luke Thompson throws for 355 yards and three TDs, and adds 76 yards and two more scores along the ground to help the Hawks hang half-a-hundred on McMaster. Are the young Hawks for real, or merely the best of the OUA's second tier?
  8. Gee, what happened? It wasn't the bike for Lance Armstrong and it isn't the injuries for Ottawa. The Gee-Gees have gone from being everyone's Yates Cup pick (present company included) to needing to beat U of T next week to be assured of an OUA playoff berth.

    Three more players -- left defensive end Ian Hazlett and receivers Alex Fortier-Labonte and Justin Wood-Roy -- were injured in a 22-point loss to Queen's.
  9. And introducing the Manitoba Bisons: The defending national champs survive four John Makie interceptions and a fumble recovered in the end zone for a touchdown to beat Saskatchewan. Their last two games are winnable (and loseable), so they might not miss the playoffs.
Atlantic-Québec crossover

Montréal 37, No. 3 Saint Mary's 20:
Overheard in the newsroom, "What's French for meltdown?" A blocked punt returned for a touchdown contributed greatly to the great Huskie unravelling on a rough day for the Atlantic conference in general.

Saint Mary's should be able to rise above this, but ten turnovers from a No. 3-ranked team? (We won't mention the team that had 11 two weeks ago when it was ranked No. 2).

I don't have any stats, but Hantz Bouriquot and Frank Bruno looked like they had good days for Les Bleus. The cognoscenti are mostly a-twitter over the Carabins' conduct.

No. 1 Laval 41, Bishop's 10: The Benoît Groulx update — he was 25-of-32 for 327 yards for two touchdowns and was interception-free, and raising his completion percentage to 77.7% for the season.

Jamall Lee was held to 70 yards, but that was enough for him to go over 4,000 in his career. He's only the seventh player to do that in his fourth season.

The CIS has had some website issues today (that, friends, is another post). The other Atlantic-Québec matchups (Concordia 66-13 over Mount Allison; Sherbrooke 32-2 over Acadia and St. Francis Xavier 40-7 over McGill) went more or less as expected.

Canada West

Manitoba 20, Saskatchewan 17:
The Bisons, who still face an uphill battle to get into the Can West playoffs, evidently got a huge lift from Matt Henry, who gutted out a 32-carry, 168-day, along with making a 16-yard TD catch that put the U of M ahead for good late in the third quarter. Henry also got a vital, time-consuming first down in the final two minutes to help run out the clock.

It's not clear what the root cause is, but Saskatchewan has blown two-touchdown leads in both of its losses. The upshot for the Huskies is that they control their own destiny, with Simon Fraser coming in next week. Dathan Thomas rushed for 109 yards but left the game due to injury.

This site showed Huskies QB Laurence Nixon some love and he ended up having a tough day, throwing 24 times for 141 yards.

Calgary 31, Regina 5: Dinos D-lineman Andrew Obrecht had a key forced fumble that set up a touchdown during Calgary's first-half onslaught. Between the defence and the running game, with Matt Walter accounting for 200 of their 292 yards, this added up to an easy win for the Dinos (4-2).

Calgary, which seems to have flown under the radar all season, can still finish as high as second in Canada West. Next week at Manitoba should be tough, especially since the Bisons showed today they can still be a rough, tough team, especially in their home stadium. (Can they do it consistently, though?) Blake Nill's Dinos, 4-0 at home but 0-2 in away games, need a big road win to show that they're bona fide.


No. 2 Queen's 38, Ottawa 16:
The big takeaway from the early University Rush game is that The Score's Sid Seixeiro related late in the game that Gee-Gees coach Denis Piché had stated that he believes the Golden Gaels are better than Laval.

"They're a more complete team, they make less mistakes and they're better," was how Seixeiro summarized Piché's comments.

The argument Ottawa (3-4) could be this year's Western is fast becoming theoretical. Justin Wood-Roy (concussion) did not complete the game and neither did fellow receiver Alex Fortier Labonte and defensive end Ian Hazlett. Josh Sacobie's understudy, Brad Sinopoli, was playing wide receiver and actually did yeoman's work filling in. The bottom line is that Ottawa is out of excuses; injuries and inexperience can either make a team indomitable or make them individuals. (How's that for a stab at coach-speak?)

There was a liveblog over at Out of Left Field. Queen's, on the strength of its passing offence (Dan Brannagan was 21-of-33 for 341 yards and accounted for all five Gaels TDs) and pass defence (JSacobie threw 38 times for 202 yards and no TDs), rolled up a 31-0 halftime lead and cruised home, more or less.

Mike Giffin ended up with totals — 21 rushes for 72 yards — almost identical to the Western game. Similarly, he was contained for 3 1/2 quarters before breaking loose for a couple nice gains late in the game against a dinged-up and demoralized defence. It must be pointed out that one of Giffin's 200-yard games came against a good Guelph team, which has allowed only one other 100-yard game this season (to Daryl Stephenson, who needed 29 carries to get 115 yards).

Believe it or not, it's Queen's first home win over Ottawa since Sept. 14, 1996 — my frosh year.

No. 10 Laurier 50 McMaster 31: Golden Hawks QB Luke Thompson accounted for 431 yards and five TDs (three by air, two by land), meaning Laurier will host an OUA quarter-final game on Nov. 1. There was 1,033 yards total offence; basically, it sounds like Mac's defence is taking October off, like it did last season.

Guelph 48 York 2: What's mostly notable is that Jedd Gardner had punt and kick-return touchdowns (128 and 83 yards, respectively) and the Lions' scoring drought ended at 15 quarters. Gardner averaged more than 40 yards per touch (326 on eight receptions, rushes and returns), but again, it's York.

Now, if Western could just go right ahead and play backups against Guelph, that would help tremendously. Figuring out the tiebreakers between Ottawa, Mac and Windsor would be so much easier if Guelph can finish 5-3.

  • Ottawa and Mac win — they're in
  • Ottawa and Windsor win — they're in
  • Toronto and Mac win — Marauders and Lancers (who have the tiebreaker over Ottawa) advance
  • Toronto and Windsor win — Lancers and Gee-Gees go through
Seriously, who would thought we would have had to contemplate Ottawa needing to beat Toronto just to get in the playoffs?
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