With the Vanier Cup in Hamilton Marauders look to return to national championship

With the Vanier Cup in Hamilton Marauders look to return to national championship

2015 regular season record: 6-2

2015 regular season standings: 3rd in OUA

2015 playoff record: 0-1

2015 playoff finish: Lost OUA quarterfinal to Laurier

McMaster enters the 2016 with a new man at the helm and the determination to improve upon a disappointing end to their season a year ago. A large veteran presence on both sides of the ball makes this a tantalizing campaign for McMaster fans, with new CIS record holder Asher Hastings seeing out his final year of eligibility at quarterback. 

The offence surrounding Hastings is stacked with skill and experience, as CIS First Team All-Canadian Danny Vandervoort leads a receiving corps including last year's OUA leader in receptions, Dan Petermann, and veterans Josh Vandeweerd and Max Cameron. Returning for his own fifth season, Chris Pezzetta brings a proven downhill pedigree to the backfield, while Zach Intzandt anchors McMaster's offensive line as a fellow fifth-year vet. 

On the other side of the ball, the Marauders will rely on a veteran defensive line, featuring senior ends Mike Kashak and Mark Mackie to apply consistent pressure in the trenches. Jake Heathcote enters his fourth year as Mac's leader at linebacker, fresh from a 2015 season that saw him lead the team in both tackles and interceptions. The Marauder secondary, which held opponents to the fewest passing yards per game in the OUA last season, returns fully intact with a number of blue-chip additions through recruiting, and should be a team strength in 2016.

Quote from head coach: Greg Knox 

"I'm excited to be back at McMaster and looking forward to continuing the success of the program."

"Coaching Marauder football is an honour and with the group of coaches we have I feel very comfortable taking up the challenge of fighting for another OUA Championship." 

Head Coach: Greg Knox 

- Number of seasons as head coach with team (including 2016): First

- Number of seasons as head coach in CIS (including 2016): First

- Career regular season record with team: N/A

- Career regular season record in CIS: N/A

- Career overall record with team (reg. season & playoffs only): N/A

- Career overall record in CIS (reg. season & playoffs only): N/A


OFFENCE

Number of returning starters: 9  

Key returning players: QB Asher Hastings, REC Danny Vandervoort, REC Dan Petermann, OL Zach Intzandt 

Asher Hastings completes his eligibility in 2016, returning to helm the Marauders offence a year after breaking a decades-old CIS record with a whopping total of 31 passing touchdowns. He averaged 323.3 yards per game through the air in 2015, and is set to excel yet again at the controls of a pass-first offence at Mac. 

The Marauders preeminent deep threat, Danny Vandervoort returns for his fourth year after breaking records of his own in 2015. His 11 majors set a new team mark, and sat just two back of the OUA record set by his former head coach Stefan Ptaszek in 1994. He will reprise his role as Hastings' go-to in the clutch this year, and promises to give opposing secondaries headaches. 

Opposite Vandervoort, former OUA Rookie of the Year Dan Petermann enters his third season in Maroon and Grey in 2016. He stands as Mac's master of possession, handily leading the OUA with 61 receptions a year ago and breaking a school record in the process. 

Fifth-year senior Zach Intzandt heads up the offensive line in front of Hastings, returning from his first taste of a Canadian Football League training camp with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who drafted him in the fifth round of May's CFL Entry Draft.


Key recruits or transfers: RB Justin Connolly, OL Jakub Szott, RB Dom Mandalfino 

Key losses: RB Wayne Moore, SB Declan Cross, OL Sean Smith 


DEFENCE
 

Number of returning starters: 10

Key returning players: DL Mike Kashak, DL Mark Mackie, LB Jake Heathcote, DB Keldyn Ahlstedt 

The defensive line duo of Mike Kashak and Mark Mackie returns to anchor a veteran group in the trenches in 2016. Kashak dons Maroon and Grey once again after being drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in May's CFL Entry Draft, having contributed 8.5 sacks and 25 tackles to McMaster's cause a year ago. Mackie, for his part, enters his fourth season after posting 4 sacks and 18 tackles in 2015. 

Heathcote, meanwhile, was far and away McMaster's defensive leader last season, and was recognized as a CIS All-Canadian and OUA First Team All-Star as a result. His totals of 36.5 tackles and four interceptions both led Mac in 2015, and he will be looked to once again as the team's defensive captain. 

In the secondary, defensive back Keldyn Ahlstedt rounds out his CIS career in 2016 as the anchor of a backfield in transition. Mac will lean on the experience of Ahlstedt, who attended training camp with the Ottawa Redblacks this past spring and totalled 25 tackles for the Marauders a season ago.

Key recruits or transfers: DL NiCarlo Funai, DB Ben Cross, DB Nolan Putt

Key losses: DL Kevin Aleinik, LB Joe Richardson, DL Connor MacKay

 
SPECIAL TEAMS

Key returning players: KR Aaron Baker 

Aaron Baker returns for his final year in Maroon and Grey, and will once again be counted upon as the team's regular returner on punts and kickoffs. He stood fifth overall in the OUA in 2015 with 468 kick return yards and fourth with 348 yards on punt returns.

Key recruits or transfers:

Key losses: K Bobby Frame,