CIS Countdown 2009: Concordia Stingers

Burning questions:

WILL Robert Mackay be able to bounce back from a year-off rehabbing a knee injury and lead the Stingers from the quarterback position?

CAN this be the year Concordia can overcome Laval and represent Quebec as champions?

HOW will the defence bounce back from losing six players from their front seven rotation last year?

2008 recap and record
— (5-3, 2nd). Concordia’s record was a little lower due to the fact that they had two games against Laval. They dropped both of them, and then a game in Lennoxville against the Gaiters. The Stingers made some noise in the playoffs, coming back from a 20-3 deficit to a 20-17 deficit with the ball. However, an interception in the end zone ended the hopes of the Concordia comeback.

Setting up '09 — It was a tough summer for the Stingers. In June, the devastating news came that second-year linebacker Ricky Zieba, who played himself into a starting job last year, had died in a car accident. This leaves Stingers defensive coordinator Warren Craney having to replace two defensive linemen and three linebackers who started games last year.

Offensively, Mackay returns after a year off after suffering an injury that opened the door for Liam Mahoney, who was the Stingers starter for the last year and a half. Mahoney will now move to receiver, which makes the Stingers receiving corps the deepest, best and most interesting in the conference. The Stingers also have to replace two starting offensive linemen and don’t have much time to mesh – they start the season off against none other than Laval at Stade PEPS.

Returning starters — 8 offence, 6 defence

Stepping out (graduated players)
— OL Connor Smith, OL Mike Comeau, WR Blake Butler, DL Tom Kuchiran, DL William Miller, LB Darnell Danglade, LB Nathan Agadzi

Stepping up — RB Jerome Hofferden, WR Scott Mironowicz, FB Ray Tonye, CB Nathan Taylor, CB Kris Robertson, DT James Clement, P Dumitru Ionita

Future reference — Hofferden had 888 yards in 9 games with South Dakota State in 2005. Taylor was a two-time CEGEP all-star. Robertson ran the team’s fastest 40-time in training camp last week. QB Jason Hogan was a 2-time OFC all-star, was the 2008 OFC Top Passer and spent one year as the scout team QB with Laval.

Coach & coordinators
— More of the same for the Stingers this year as the trio of Gerry McGrath (head coach and offensive coordinator), Craney (defensive coordinator) and Peter Regimbald (special teams coordinator) return. McGrath will be starting his 10th year as head coach.

Enrollment — 39,232 (32,872 undergraduate, 6,358 graduate)

Stadium/atmosphere — Concordia Stadium has the backdrop of Concordia’s beautiful Loyola Campus but not many people have enjoyed the view. The field is considered one of the league’s nicest with a sharp green field turf, and while the atmosphere has been improving, it is lacking. Much like cross-town rival McGill and other cities, it is tough to compete in a big city, especially one where most students live off campus.

Alumni in CFL — Blue Bombers P Mike Renaud and LS Chris Cvetkovic, Stampeders P Burke Dales, Toronto DL Adrian Davis

From Last Year’s season preview
— "The diehards always seem to have a shovelful of dirt to throw on the Stingers, but their coaching, especially on defence and on special teams, is a good insurance policy against sliding too far down in the standings. Concordia is on the downswing from a cycle that peaked in '05-06.”

Stock up or stock down — Up. Thanks to Laval dominating competition throughout the playoffs last year, it proved that despite Concordia being the second best team in their conference, they are one of the best teams in the country – and came closest to beating the Rouge et Or.

Schedule (all times Eastern)
Sunday Sept 6 @ Laval (SRC) 2:00pm
Sunday Sept 13 vs Montreal 4:30pm
Saturday Sept 19 @ Sherbrooke 7:00pm
Saturday Sept 26 vs St. F.X. 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 3 vs Sherbrooke (SRC) 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 17 @ Acadia 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 24 vs McGill (SRC) 1:00pm
Saturday Oct 31 @ Bishop’s 1:00pm
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