The QUFL is a perfect analogy for this weekend, and this season. With thrilling finishes and big wins from teams who needed those wins, the Quebec conference looks quite different than it did two weeks ago when we took our last look.
The teams are going to be listed in order of the standings. I know Laval has the tie breaker but Montreal will go first. Deal. (By the way, for the record, my Top 10 ballot will have Montreal No. 1 and Laval No. 2, like Neate's).
- Montreal (4-1): The Carabins showed they could beat Laval, finally, and in the process proving they have the perfect mix of veterans and youngsters. Yes, they split the two games with Laval, but remember that they did not have a quarterback in their previous loss. I'd rather have Cesar Hernandez-Sanchez than having no quarterback. Rotrand Sene might already be one of the top 4 running backs in the Q and he is in his true freshman season. This may be Montreal's year, but like so many US College programs, the big test will be avoiding the letdown against Sherbrooke next week. But for now, the Carabins should be celebrating and looking forward to the playoffs.
- Laval (4-1) : Laval fans, like Neate said, will look at this game as a bump in the road. They didn't have Benoit Groulx. They had to play on the road. The big reality is not only that Montreal beat them, but that even when Benoit Groulx is healthy the gap is smaller than it ever has been between these two teams and they will have to fight if they want to get back to the Vanier Cup. Laval does have the tie-breaker for the Dunsmore Cup if Laval and Montreal finish tied and meet in the Quebec final.
- McGill (3-2): Yes, the Redmen are currently in the driver's seat for a playoff berth. With Andrew Hamilton running wild so far this season and Jonathan Collin providing very solid play from a rookie and their defence has been much improved and they are coming off of a last-minute win over Bishop's last weekend. Something to think about: McGill's last three games are against Saint Mary's, Concordia and Laval. One win will secure them a playoff spot - will they get it?
- Sherbrooke (2-3): Sherbrooke, who last year came out of nowhere for their best season in school history, now has more questions than answers. They closed the gap after spotting Concordia a 24-0 lead early on Saturday but now are looking at a final three games that has Montreal twice and Laval. They could be looking at a 2-6 record unless they can pull an upset or two and their playoff hopes look bleaker than ever. Their two main players on offence JP Shoiry and Pascal Fils have been very, very good this season and were impressive even in a losing effort to Concordia.
- Concordia (1-4): After getting their first win of the season, Concordia's fate is actually in their own hands as they get set for their three final games. They face Acadia, McGill and Bishop's and if they win all three, will be in the playoffs. This Concordia team had a lot of youth to break in to the lineup and were plagued by injuries early on. That, and the fact that their first five games were the hardest on their schedule means their current record. But they are getting healthy and Rob Mackay (23-of-34, 350 yards, 3 TDs) and Liam Mahoney (13 catches, 242 yards and 2 TD's, which is also the third-best receiving day in QUFL/O-QIFC history) seem to be peaking as they are getting back in the swing of things.
- Bishop's (1-4): The Gaiters are young and have some upside, but don't seem quite ready yet. They couldn't hold on late against McGill over the weekend, and gave up a last-minute field goal to fall by two. Losing three all-stars from a year ago is tough for any team and with St. FX and Montreal coming up things aren't getting easier. However, the future is bright, and they will win one of their remaining games this season as a jump start for next year. Defensive back Harrison Maloney and Mr. Everything Steven Turner are both exceptional athletes that could break any game open.