WHO will step up and replace running back Jamall Lee as the premiere player on the Gaiters offence?
CAN Bishop’s make that next step and find their way back to the playoffs after finishing two games out?
HOW will the Gaiters deal with the loss of leading tackler James Yurichuk and Kyle Jones?
2008 recap and record — (3-5, 5th). Bishop’s suffered through a season that saw them miss the playoffs after losing to the University of Montreal on the season’s final day. The Gaiters’ schedule was one that showed the strength of the Quebec conference. Bishop’s played all but one of their games against teams that were ranked at some point last year. It didn’t help that they also had to play Saint Mary’s who were ranked third in the country at the time of their game.
Setting up '09 — The Gaiters have 18 returning starters but it is the players who aren’t returning that leave the team with significant holes to fill. The biggest name leaving is Lee, the record-setting back who signed with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Lee ran for over 1,200 yards last year and is expected to be replaced by all-star return man Steven Turner who will move from slot back to running back. Jesse Andrews returns to lead the Gaiters’ offence at quarterback.
Defensively, the Gaiters lose their leading tackler from a year ago in Yurichuk as well as Jones. They do return three starters on the defensive end, but will need to fill the two holes left at linebacker. Overall, the biggest difference this year is that Bishop’s has two games against the McGill Redmen, and for a team that came one game away from making the playoffs last year, that may be all the difference they need, although they also get Laval twice which makes things a tad more difficult.
Returning starters — 8 offence, 8 defence
Stepping out (graduated players) — HB Jamaal Lee, LB James Yurichuk, LB Kyle Jones, DE Dusty Burke, OL Tom Cumberbatch, OL Steven Mabee, WR Keith Godding
Stepping up — DE Elie Ngoyi, OL Adam Hughes, HB Matt Burke, OL Ryan White, WR Duraney White
Future reference — LB Trevor Kemp out of Ottawa was named QJFL linebacker of the year, and was his team’s rookie player of the year in 2007 and defensive player of the year last year. He was a two time high school defensive MVP as well.
Coach & coordinators — Blugh is back for his 5th year at the helm of the Gaiters. He also controls the special teams and defensive line. Ray Gagnon is back as defensive coordinator, his third with the team and the team is breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Perry Marchese.
Enrollment — 1,740
Stadium/atmosphere — Coulter Field is a small, but effective field that is not very easy to go to when you are the opposition. The atmosphere you get is probably the best in the QUFL outside of Quebec City. Not only that, but if you happen to host Bishop’s you’re bound to get probably the biggest amount of traveling students to road games, which makes for great atmosphere home and away.
Alumni in CFL — Carolina Panthers HB Jamall Lee, BC LB James Yurichuk, BC LS Dan McCullough, Hamilton LS Matt Robichaud, Toronto LB Kyle Jones
From Last Year’s season preview — “In the short run, BU, which could be poking around the middle of the Top 10, has a lot to play for this season. There's helping Lee vie for the Hec Crighton Trophy and helping his draft status. There's getting back at Concordia, who beat them in their first and last games of 2007, and claiming Eastern Townships bragging rights over Sherbrooke in the Route 143 Rivalry or the Townships Tangle (you like it, feel free to steal it).”
Stock up or stock down — Sideways. Losing Jamall Lee hurts, obviously, but maturing young talent may be enough to overcome that and give the Gaiters a chance to make the jump into the playoffs. If not this year, it won’t be too long.
Schedule (all times Eastern)
Friday Sept 4 @ Sherbrooke 7:00pm
Saturday Sept 12 vs Laval (SRC) 1:00pm
Friday Sept 18 @ McGill 7:00pm
Sunday Sept 27 @ Laval 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 3 vs McGill 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 17 @ St. F.X. 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 24 vs Montreal 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 31 vs Concordia 1:00pm