In 50 words or less: The McMaster Marauders boast a highly experienced core and are ready to make a championship run. After an unexpectedly successful 2009 campaign and losing just three starters to graduation, it’s Yates Cup or bust for the Maroon and Grey.
Burning questions: CAN the backs combo of Jordan Kozina and Joey Nemet continue to shoulder the load of the Marauder offence?
WILL incumbent QB Kyle Quinlan keep his full-time starting job?
CAN a secondary that was young and promising in 2009 become steady and reliable in 2010?
HOW will McMaster deal with an absolutely brutal start to the schedule?
2009 recap: (7-3, 6-2) The Marauders defied expectations in 2009 and joined the OUA’s upper echelon of teams earlier than expected. Mac won its final four regular season games, including a stunning 42-35 win at Western’s homecoming game. McMaster took that momentum into the playoffs by defeating the Ottawa Gee-Gees on the road before being trounced by the eventual Vanier Cup champions Queen’s Golden Gaels. Mac was brilliant at times (beating Western and Ottawa on the road) and highly questionable at others (beating Windsor by one in a bizarre overtime game).
Departures: DL James Edwards, LB Justin Vince, WR Matt Giordano.
Arrivals: P/K Tyler Crapigna, QB Marshall Ferguson, WR Ben O’Connor, DB Allan Dicks, OL Sandy Bissett, RB Jimmy Hill, RB Ryan Kotar, OL Brad Minns, OL Andrew Mizzi, DL Jason Riley, LB Ryan Saunders, DB Steve Ventresca
Keep an eye on: Tyler Crapigna, a highly touted kicker from Ottawa who has set multiple Ontario Varsity Football League records. With respect to current Mac booter Andy Waugh, the Marauders have needed a solid kicker for a few seasons now.
Also watch for some developing stars in the secondary, including last year’s OUA Rookie of the Year Cody Lynch. Lynch, along with fellow underclassmen Stephen Dennis, Shane Beaton, Michael Daly and Andrew Surya were asked to anchor the backfield last year. Along with veteran back Byron Metcalfe, a year of experience should do wonders for the team.
Finally, WR Michael DiCroce, who impressed many in playing multiple positions and displaying a high level of versatility last season. DiCroce is as good of an all-around athlete as one can find in the CIS, and coach Stefan Ptaszek will find endless uses for his athleticism.
Coach & coordinators: Coach Stefan Ptaszek (fifth season). Jon Behie returns for his second season as Offensive Co-ordinator, while Greg Knox begins his fourth season as Defensive Co-ordinator. Special Teams Coach Larry Guarascia reprises his role for the ninth time with McMaster.
Off-the-field factors: Expectations are high for the Marauders, and the pressure is put squarely on their shoulder pads with a brutal schedule to start the campaign. However, each of the players I’ve spoken to have said since falling to Queen’s last November, they’ve had their eyes on 2010 as the best chance they ever have to win a championship.
From last season's preview: “Mac could be somewhere between 3-5 and 5-3. It really depends on the strength of Guelph and Waterloo.” – Neate Sager. Nobody really expected much from Mac last year, but they took a giant step forward.
Stock up or stock down: Up. As Queen’s proved last season, a core group of players that has a chance to grow together is always dangerous (having Danny Brannagan notwithstanding). Mac returns almost every key contributor from a very solid 2009 and is ready to make a run.
Tuesday, Aug. 31 vs. Queen’s, 7 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 6 vs. Laurier, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 11 at Western, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18 at Ottawa, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 25 vs. Windsor, 1 p.m.
Sat, Oct. 2 at York, 1 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 7 vs. Guelph, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 16 at Toronto, 1 p.m.
Saturday, Oct 23 ---BYE WEEK---