Football: CW recap - Huskies win rain-soaked Top 10 showdown

Week one of the football season out west was supposed to be highlighted by a match-up between the #1-ranked Calgary Dinos and the #3-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies. The game had all the billings of another classic between the two premier programs in the conference, but instead turned out to be little more than a rain-soaked snorer in the second half, with the Huskies coming away with a decisive 34-13 win.

With both squads returning the majority of their key players – including quarterbacks Erik Glavic of Calgary and Saskatchewan's Laurence Nixon – the game seemed prepped to be a dandy.

After playing two one point games a season ago, I fully expected to see both teams come out and perform a similar number to open the 2010 campaign. What I got instead was an anti-climactic Saskatchewan win, with the Dinos unable to muster anything in the way of second half offence.

Credit to Saskatchewan for the win, including running back Jeff Hassler who was the star for the Sled Dogs, rushing for 168 yards and a touchdown.

After a first half that saw Calgary get shredded through the air, including over 200 yards by Nixon in the first quarter alone, the aerial attack for the Huskies slowed in the second as the rain pelted McMahon stadium. The Huskies didn't need a dazzling aerial attack though, taking their 25-13 halftime lead and eventually extending it to 34-13 thanks to a nine point fourth.

The highlight of the second half wasn't a pretty one though, as Calgary receiver Anthony Woodson got laid out over the middle after Saskatchewan safety Bryce McCall took advantage of the vulnerable receiver with a blow to Woodson's head. Woodson laid on the turf for some time, before being carried off to an awaiting ambulance. As Sager posted earlier, Woodson was not held overnight at hospital.

Along with Woodson, Calgary receiving standout Anthony Parker was injured in the first half with a reported shoulder injury and didn't return for the Dinos.

Overall this edition of the Huskies-Dinos rivalry didn't come anywhere close to meeting my expectations thanks to a good effort from the Huskies on both sides of the ball. Something tells me the intensity level in this series will be far higher from the Dinos though come October 15 in Saskatoon. With the win, you can all but lock Saskatchewan in as the #1 team in the next Top 10 poll - a position they could easily be holding come mid-October.

The game between the Dinos and Huskies may have been the most hyped Canada West game of opening weekend, but it wasn't the first tilt on the schedule, or the most lopsided contest for that matter.

The Manitoba Bisons went into Regina Friday night to take on the Rams, and after the dust settled, Regina came away with a 45-11 win to open their season.

Regina used big plays on the defensive side of the ball to beat the Herd, notching a trio of defensive touchdowns including two interception returns for majors. Both Mike Kerr and Jamir Walker found the endzone for Regina after picking off Manitoba QB Khaleal Williams.

It was an impressive start to the year for the Rams defence, who came up large under the Friday night lights. I didn't expect this one to be a blowout, but turnovers and some opportunistic defensive plays were the difference in a sloppy start for the Bisons. Give Regina credit for coming up with a big opening weekend win, and capitalizing on those Manitoba mistakes in a major way.

In the other Canada West game this weekend the Alberta Golden Bears went into Vancouver and handed UBC and their new head coach Shawn Olson a 36-28 loss.

The Bears rode the arm of quarterback Julian Marchand, who despite throwing two interceptions, carried his team to victory with 358 yards passing and three TDs.

After Alberta rushed out to a 36-14 lead thanks to three consecutive offensive drives that resulted in touchdowns in the third quarter, the T-Birds cut into the Bears lead with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to cap off the scoring.

It was a solid start to the season for the Bears who travel to Manitoba next week with games against Calgary and Saskatchewan after their trip to Winnipeg.

All-in-all a bit of a bizarre opening weekend, with two lopsided wins and only one game that turned out like I thought it would. With big wins for both teams from the Wheat Province, and a nice showing from an Alberta team that is still a bit of an unknown at this stage of the season, the Canada West football season is officially upon us.
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