Well, that was fast.
It seems like just yesterday we unveiled OUA Uncovered in preparation for the 2017 football season.
Some teams have played four games, while others five, so it’s not exactly the half-way point of the season, but In The Huddle still wanted to reset the season in time for the stretch drive, so here’s a team-by-team thumbnail.
Western Mustangs (5-0) – The ‘Stangs have not disappointed so far. Only tested by Guelph, Western has played very good, albeit not exceptional football by its own lofty standards. The Mustangs have won their games by an average score of 49-14. Western is No. 1 in the country in both passing and rushing yards, as well as total points and fewest passing yards against per game. The team also ranks second in fewest rushing yards against per game. The only real questions here are can they stay healthy, and how do they compare to Laurier?
Remaining Games: A – Laurier, H - Carleton, H - Ottawa
Laurier Golden Hawks (4-0) – Any questions about the Hawks being a one-year wonder have been answered - they’re not. Michael Knevel is the leading passer in the country in yards per game. The offence is balanced and has multiple weapons, while the defence is as stifling as ever. The biggest, and perhaps only, question is how will the Hawks fare when they play Western? We will find out on Saturday.
Remaining Games: H – Western, A- York, A – Guelph, H - McMaster
Ottawa Gee-Gees (4-1) – The Gee-Gees continue to win, though at times it hasn’t been pretty. Dramatic victories over Guelph and Queen’s should give them enough currency to get into the playoffs. They’ve been pretty bad in the red zone this year, which may be the result of injury problems at quarterback. If they can clean up that aspect of their game, however, they could be a sneaky good team come playoff time.
Remaining Games: H – Carleton, H – Waterloo, A – Western
Waterloo Warriors (4-1) – There’s little doubt that this is the best story in USports this season. Winless in each of the last two seasons, the Warriors have played a highly entertaining brand of football in 2017. Their most impressive statistic may be that they’ve been in the red zone 20 times and scored TDs on 16 of those trips. That 80-percent success rate is the best in the country. One more win almost certainly assures them of a playoff spot; something very few people thought was possible as the season began.
Remaining Games: H – Guelph, A – Queen’s, A – Ottawa
McMaster Marauders (3-1) – The Marauders started the season as a team with a potentially fantastic defence that was looking for some answers offensively. Jackson White seems to be the solution to one of those questions as the freshman quarterback has stepped up nicely. An ultra-aggressive defence has forced 13 turnovers and recorded 12 sacks in just four games. Don’t go to sleep on MAC come playoff time.
Remaining Games: H – York, A – Toronto, H – Windsor, A - Laurier
Guelph Gryphons (2-3) – It’s hard to imagine how frustrating this season has been for the Gryphs. They suffered painfully tough overtime losses to start the season against Ottawa and Western, with last week’s Homecoming loss to McMaster almost as frustrating. It’s a tough defence with an offence that hasn’t clicked yet, but the club has numerous weapons on that side of the ball, meaning things could change in a hurry. Guelph likely needs to win at least two of its final three to have a shot at the post season.
Remaining Games: A – Waterloo, H – Laurier, A – Carleton
Carleton Ravens (1-3) – A team perhaps flying under the radar, the Ravens are developing freshman QB Michael Arruda and playing decent football despite their record. Nathan Carter leads the country in rushing, while the defence has tallied 20 sacks – tops in USports. The remaining schedule, however, is not easy. The nail-biting loss to Waterloo and the dramatic opening game win over Queen’s could each be pivotal in terms of whether or not the Ravens make the playoffs, while the Panda game will be huge for Carleton.
Remaining Games: A – Ottawa, A – Western, H – Toronto, H - Guelph
York Lions (1-3) – The injury bug bit the Lions hard at the beginning of the season. They’re getting healthy now, but do they have enough to get into the playoffs? The 69 points scored through four games is surprising for a team with some very good offensive players. Defensively, they need to find a way to generate more turnovers. The Lions are likely going to have to pull off a significant upset to qualify for post-season play.
Remaining Games: A – McMaster, H – Laurier, A – Queen’s, A – Windsor
Toronto Blues (1-4) – It’s been another frustrating season for Varsity, with perhaps the biggest disappointment coming in a close loss at Waterloo. The Blues have been struggling offensively as they split reps between two young QBs. They’re near the bottom of USports teams in terms of points scored and yards per game. The rest of the season isn’t exactly a walk through the park either.
Remaining Games: H – McMaster, A – Carleton, H – Queen’s
Queen’s Gaels (0-4) – The season couldn’t have started in a more frustrating way for the Tricolour. Heartbreaking losses to the teams from the National Capital Region put them behind the eight ball early. Subsequent losses to the OUA’s two best teams leave Queen’s winless through four games, though the last half of its schedule leaves room for post-season hope.
Remaining Games: A – Windsor, H – Waterloo, H – York, A – Toronto
Windsor Lancers (0-5) – It’s been a tough year for the Lancers, who realized that they were in a transitional year going in. They’ve been able to run the ball effectively, but have struggled in the passing game. Their 127-yards per game average is the lowest in the country, but this will serve as an invaluable year in the development of their freshmen, particularly quarterback Ben Bergamin.
Remaining Games: H – Queen’s, A – McMaster, H – York
We love football for various reasons. For many, it’s a way to get away from the pressures of day-to-day life. Sadly, in a week where the Ottawa Gee-Gees should be solely focused on the Panda Game, they’re instead dealing with the worst kind of real-life matter.
Loic Kayembe passed away suddenly in his sleep on Sunday. The 24-year old Montrealer with the perpetual smile was their starting defensive end. In his honour, there will be a ceremony held before Saturday’s game. Our heartfelt condolences to his family, his friends, and all those connected to the Gee-Gees program.
Kayembe had one tackle in what was his final game, a 39-14 win over Windsor. It was 30-0 before the second quarter was a minute old after a Cody Cranston pick six. Alex Lavric threw for 276 yards and a pair of TDs, while Bryce Vieira was the Gee-Gees leading rusher with 83 yards. Windsor’s Marvin Gaynor finished with 97 yards on the ground and the Lancers’ Daniel Metcalfe finished with 13 tackles. Ottawa won despite being flagged 16 times for 127 yards.
The Warriors undefeated season is no more. They were thumped 71-24 by cross-town rival Laurier. It was 19-15 in the final minute of the half before Osayi Iginuan scored a TD and Waterloo went two and out. On the final play of the half, Kurleigh Gittens Jr. returned the ensuing punt 65 yards for a back-breaking touchdown. After that, It was all Hawks in the second half. Levondre Gordon topped the 100-yard rushing mark, while Brentyn Hall had 144-receiving yards on just three catches, including a spectacular 44-yard TD grab.
McMaster won a big road game, 29-9 at Guelph, ruining Homecoming for the Gryphons. The home team could have put the visitors away early, but had to settle for a pair of red-zone field goals. The Marauders, however, scored 19-unanswered points in the second half. Statistically the game was incredibly close, with the difference being McMaster’s two TD passes and a pair of interceptions. Guelph QB James Roberts was injured in the first half and replaced by Theo Landers.
Western remained undefeated with a convincing win over their long-time rivals from Queen’s. The Mustangs were up 23-0 after 15 minutes. Chris Merchant passed for over 300 yards and a pair of TDs; Harry McMaster caught seven passes for 111 yards; and Alex Taylor had a monster game, rushing for 184 yards on just 13 carries (an average of 14.2 yards per rush). Mark Liegghio tied a Western record with six field goals. Jake Puskas started for Queen’s and rushed for 111 yards. The Gaels did a better job protecting Nate Hobbs, who was only sacked twice compared to the 26 sacks allowed in the first three games. Western scored the only 19 points in the second half.
York won the Red and Blue Bowl with a 41-16 win over U-of-T. Brett Hunchak looked like himself at QB, with Adam Adeboboye being a big reason why. He caught 14 passes for 140 yards and a pair of TDs. Jaykwon Thompson had a nice day for the Blues, with five catches for 130 yards. Damian Jamieson, Rossini Sandjong-Djabome, and Matthew Skoko each had two sacks for the Lions.
A big thank you to York for the invitation to emcee the York Sport Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Friday. Two gentlemen from the football program were inducted, coach Frank Cosentino and running back Jeff Johnson. It was a spectacular evening.