WILL Benoit Groulx repeat as Hec Creighton winner in his fifth and final season?
HOW good will Sebastien Levesque be in his first full season as Laval’s starter at halfback?
WHO will take down Laval?
2008 recap and record — (8-0, 1st). What is there to say? They survived a scare in the Dunsmore Cup and just steamrolled their way to another Vanier Cup. Groulx won the school’s first Hec Creighton trophy to put an exclamation point on the season.
Setting up '09 — I’m going to say it, because I saw it first hand. Sebastien Levesque is good. Really, really good. Why, you say? Well Guillaume Allard-Cameus was Laval’s leading rusher with 389 yards on 77 carries. In the Dunsmore Cup, however, Levesque was the starter. He torched Concordia in that game, and his regular season stats? 303 yards on 16 carries. Yes, a lot of that came against McGill, but he did the same thing against a much better defence in the biggest (and closest) game of Laval’s season. Basically, Laval loses one running back (who is now teamless) but may have even improved the position. The question mark for Laval now, however, is their offensive line especially after the news of the injury to Michel Boudreault broke that he is out for the season. How effective will that make Levesque, and to a lesser extent, Groulx now that he will probably have less time in the pocket.
Defensively, Laval loses only two starters and the unit is solid as always. Groulx got a lot of headlines, and losing Etienne Legare to the CFL does hurt, but this team brings back a veteran group and the addition of Frederic Plesius and Daniel Schober makes the unit not even skip a beat.
Returning starters — 8 offence, 10 defence
Stepping out (graduated players) — DT Etienne Legare, OL Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, HB Guillaume Allard-Cameus, WR Matt Leblanc, WR Mathieu Parent, OL Vincent Turgeon, LB Steve Landry
Stepping up — QB Tristan Grenon, LB Frederic Plesius, DB Daniel Schober, DL Jean-Alexandre Bernier, DL Philippe Lemire, DL Dominic Boisvert, WR Yannick Morin-Plante, WR Junior Seydou-Haidara, WR Guillaume Rioux
Future reference — Grenon seems like a logical replacement for Groulx and Sanchez-Hernandez, both in their final year. He is 6’3, 210 and was an all-star and lead his team to the AAA Championship a year ago. Plesius is a transfer after redshirting at Baylor.
Coach & coordinators — Glen Constantin is back for his 9th season, not surprisingly. Offensive coordinator Justin Ethier and defensive coordinator Marc Fortier return as does special teams coordinator Francesco Pepe Esposito.
Enrolment — 28,902
Stadium/atmosphere — What is there to be said about PEPS. It has its quirks – the field itself is meh at best and is more like the old-style Astroturf than the newer field turf where you have the blades of grass simulation. However, the atmosphere is outstanding, as you’d expect with a crowd that averages over 13,000. The city loves its Rouge et Or and it shows. Standing on the sidelines is really a thrill to hear the crowd that doesn’t really get quiet often – unless Laval has the ball.
Alumni in CFL — Montreal OL Luc Brodeur-Jourdain, Montreal S Mathieu Proulx, Edmonton FB Mathieu Bertrand, Calgary DT Miguel Robede, Hamilton OL Alexandre Gauthier, Toronto C Dominic Picard, Toronto DT Etienne Legare
From Last Year’s season preview — “Constantin's crew has a little more to play for after last season's unravelling. Winning three national titles in four years can cause everyone work just little less harder, regardless of if anyone's willing to admit to it. Getting the Vanier back is a motivating factor for the one team in the country for whom No. 2 is not good enough.”
Stock up or stock down — Up. If it can, Laval’s stock goes up coming off of a Vanier Cup championship. Yes, their offensive line is a question mark, but Groulx is experienced enough and Levesque talented enough to overcome that. This team is the favourite, but will be tested right away by their top competition from a year ago facing Concordia.
Schedule (all times Eastern)
Sunday Sept 6 vs Concordia (SRC) 2:00pm
Saturday Sept 12 @ Bishop’s (SRC) 1:00pm
Saturday Sept 19 vs Montreal (SRC) 1:00pm
Sunday Sept 27 vs Bishop’s 1:00pm
Sunday Oct 4 @ Montreal 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 17 vs Mount Allison 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 24 @ Sherbrooke 4:00pm
Saturday Oct 31 @ McGill 1:00pm