Football looks to shine under the lights

Night game against Waterloo could end Queen’s playoff hopes

Men’s football got their first win last week.
Men’s football got their first win last week.
Credit: 
Queen's Athletics and Recreation

It’s do or die for Queen’s football this week. 

And even their head coach, Pat Sheahan, sternly agrees. 

“No question,” Sheahan bluntly told reporters during a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “We’ve exhausted all of our free space — we absolutely have to win.”

The team’s season, he added, hinges on the outcome of Thursday night’s home game against the Waterloo Warriors who, after going 0-8 in 2016, took the OUA by storm and opened their season on a four game win streak. 

Queen’s finds themselves with very little — if any — wiggle room in their scrap for a playoff spot. The team is currently 1-4 and with only three games left on their schedule, they have quite the uphill climb to make the playoffs. 

According to Sheahan, hosting a tough opponent like Waterloo won’t make their push for the postseason much easier.  

“You got to take [Waterloo] seriously … there’s no questioning about it there,” he said, adding that it’s imperative for the Gaels to be cognizant of the Warriors’ year-to-year improvement. “They’re good enough now [to compete], so, if you don’t bring your A-game, it’s a ball game.” 

The Gaels go into Thursday’s matchup riding a  54-10 blowout against Windsor for their first win of the season. The team scored its most and allowed its least points during a game this season and posted an OUA season high 778 total yards on offense. 

“It was one of those things — everything worked. Everything that we designed to attack worked, [and] how often does that happen?” Sheahan said. “We were due for one of those.”

Displaying such dominance on offense, he continued, plays into how the team’s performance could carry over into future weeks. But for now, Sheahan said the win itself was enough to boost his players’ confidence. 

Against Waterloo, Sheahan said Queen’s has been preparing for their opponent’s consistent run game. Although the Warriors rank second in the OUA in both total yards and yards per game, Sheahan said they aren’t too worried about their ground game. 

“[Their running backs] do some things, but our team has been pretty stout against the run all year,” he said. “They’ve got their [strengths], they’re going to be an entertaining team to watch, and our defense is gonna have to play well to keep them in check — or at least slow them down.” 

Getting their offense to a quick start, along with handling the Warriors’ run game, will be a focus for the Gaels from the outset.  

“Start fast and play well, [manage] their big explosion plays, slow them down on offense and get after it.” 

Going into the game, Queen’s will be without running back Jonah Pataki who went down with an injury against Windsor. Even with this, Sheahan said the team’s  improved offensive line will keep defenders at bay. 

Through the first three games of the season, Queen’s conceded 26 sacks — good for a league high — and quarterback Nate Hobbs was under heavy duress. In their last two games, however, the Gaels have suffered only two sacks, including zero in their win against Windsor. 

Sheahan credits the sound play to simply running the ball more often and taking less stress off their quarterback. 

“When you run the ball a little better, the first thing it does is eliminate sack opportunities,” he said. “The guys are starting to click on offense, they’re starting to get it, they’re in sync with the system — it’s just that sometimes that takes time.”

 

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