In The Huddle: The best offence in the country

Photo by Nancy Miller
Photo by Nancy Miller

Burlington, Ont. (by Mike Hogan) - If someone said that Tre Ford or Adam Sinagra was leading the country in passing you wouldn’t bat an eye. What if you were told that the leading passer in the country by far is Clay Sequeira? You may go rushing to the stats page to double check.

The University of Toronto QB, fresh off attending training camp with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, has shredded both the Waterloo Warriors and Windsor Lancers to start the season. True, those teams may not exactly be in the same league as Western defensively, but you must give the fourth-year passer from Pierrefonds, Quebec credit – he’s taken advantage of what’s been available to him.

“He’s really played well,” said Blues Head Coach Greg Marshall. “The offensive coaches have done a great job preparing him. He threw some great deep balls in the fourth quarter (against Windsor) that hit Will Corby in perfect stride.”

The numbers are impressive. Against Waterloo in the season opener, he passed for 471 yards and four TDs, following it up a week later against Windsor with a 464-yard, six-touchdown, no-interception performance; good enough to be named the OUA Offensive Player of the Week. That’s 935 yards, 10 TDs and one pick in two games.

Oh ya, he’s also rushed for 181 yards – the fourth-highest total in the country – and his team has scored 84 points. Yes, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues are leading the county in scoring through two weeks.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The head coach got a good chuckle when In The Huddle referred to his team as “Air Marshall”, but it has certainly been a fun offence to watch so far. Long-time offensive line coach Irv Daymond moved from Laurier to U of T to become the offensive coordinator this year, while working closest with Sequeira is quarterback coach Tom Denison, who knows a thing or two about the position.

The former Queen’s QB is one of just six players to have won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the top U SPORTS football player more than once, putting him in an exclusive group with Chris Flynn, Andrew Buckley, Eric Lapointe, Tim Tindale, and Erik Glavic.

His presence is nothing but a positive for Sequeira.

“Tommy can relate to what Clay is going through,” said Marshall. “They’re working together closely. Tommy’s good at seeing what we should be attacking and Clay has been very good at executing it.”

Sequeira’s group of receivers is not filled with household names, but Marshall is confident with what he has.

“We feel the receiving corps is the strength of our team,” he admitted to OUA.ca. “I don’t know if they’ll be pros, but they’re solid players at this level.”

Nathan Lovegrove leads the country with 296 yards; 45 more than his teammate Corby. Michael Lehmann has 165 yards, to also sit near the top of the national ranks, along with two TDs, while Nick Stadnyk has made the most of his four catches by going for 143 yards and three touchdowns.

As mentioned, it’s a fun offence to watch. It will face its toughest test to date, and perhaps of the entire season, as the Blues visit Laurier on Saturday night. There’s no doubt Hawks Defensive Coordinator Ron VanMoerkerke will have something planned for Daymond, his former compatriot in purple and gold.

The only thing Marshall is focused on currently is preparing for Laurier. He isn’t looking too far ahead, even though it would be tough to not have his optimism bolstered by the early results.

“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” said Marshall. “We want to keep getting better. We have the potential to surprise some people along the way.”

If the offence continues to click, and the defence can cut down on the big plays against, it will be tough for this team to surprise anyone, because it will have become one of the biggest stories in the conference.

THE O-ZONE

TORONTO 54, WINDSOR 26

This was a relatively low-scoring game until the fourth quarter, when the Blues outscored the Lancers 35-10. It was 19-16 for Varsity through 45 minutes. Clay Sequeira threw four TD passes in the final frame to lead the Blues to the one-sided win. The pivot threw for 464 yards and six TD passes, while adding another 110 on the ground. Will Corby caught four passes for 179 yards and two TDs. Nolan Lovegrove had seven catches for 161 yards and a touchdown. Sam Girard had a pretty good passing day for the Lancers in the loss, throwing for 333 yards and a pair of TDs. Kaeden Walls was his main target, catching eight passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. Windsor’s Daniel Metcalfe had 9.5 tackles, recovered a fumble, and broke up a pass in the loss.

McMASTER 35, OTTAWA 22

The Marauders used a 16-point fourth quarter to break open a tight game with the Gee-Gees in Hamilton. The result was sealed when defensive end Enoch Penney-Laryea picked off a pass and ran it back for a five-yard pick six. It was an incredibly close game, tied 7-7 after one quarter, with Mac taking 13-10 and 19-15 leads after 30 and 45 minutes, respectively. The offences were eerily similar in production, with McMaster recording one more passing yard and nine more rushing yards than the Gee-Gees. Carter Matheson had the biggest game of anyone offensively, as the Gee-Gees receiver caught eight passes for 144 yards and a TD. His teammate, Tramayne Stephen, had three tackles for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. The Marauders Nolan Putt had a dozen tackles, a TFL, and a sack. It truly was the Mac sack attack, as they got to Ottawa QBs seven times. Starting Gee-Gees quarterback Sawyer Buettner left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

GUELPH 37, CARLETON 20

Defence and special teams led the way for the Gryphons, outscoring the offence 21-16. For the second consecutive game, OUA Special Teams Player of the Week Clark Barnes returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, while A.J. Allen and OUA Defensive Player of the Week Jared Beeksma both racked up TDs of their own. Offensively, Guelph couldn’t get much of a passing game going, settling for just 159 yards, though Jordan Terrio caught five passes for an even 100 yards. The Gryphs rushed for 123 yards. For the Ravens, Tanner DeJong was 20/35 for 281 yards and two TDs, but did throw the pair of picks. Quinton Soares had just three catches, but amassed 11 yards, mostly coming on a 91-yard TD. Carleton could not muster anything in the run game, finishing the day with just 39 net yards on the ground. The Ravens took 18 penalties for 157 yards. Job Reinhart had a huge day defensively for Guelph with eight tackles, four tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks.

LAURIER 18, YORK 10

The Lions gave Laurier all it could handle in a surprisingly tight game. York led 10-8 at halftime. A 22-yard Kevin Wong TD run and a short field goal from Nathan Mesher were the only points in the second half, enough to give the Hawks the win. The Lions only TD came on an 82-yard punt return by Alex Daley. Laurier held York to 222 yards of total offence, while racking up 380 of their own. Levondre Gordon rushed for 133 yards, while teammate Ente Eguavoen had eight catches for 120 yards. Mesher was good on three of his five FG attempts.

WESTERN 40, QUEEN’S 23

It wasn’t a happy return to London for Queen’s first-year head coach Steve Snyder. The former Mustangs offensive coordinator saw his team get off to a slow start, trailing 34-10 at the half. Chris Merchant had a big day for the ‘Stangs, passing for 355 yards and a pair of TDs. Brett Ellerman finished with 101 receiving yards on seven catches. Bleska Kambamba had a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown. Western dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nine more minutes than the Gaels. Queen’s QB James Keenan was held to 182 yards passing before making way for Ryan Licandro. The Gaels could only muster 68 rushing yards.