Queen’s offense continues ‘freezing defenses’

Gaels maul Lions without their starting quarterback 

Image by: Herbert Wang
York struggled to advance the ball.

On Saturday, Queen’s Football met York at Richardson Stadium where tons of students and alumni watched the Gaels bring in another victory. 

Queen’s beat York 61-2 without their starting quarterback James Keenan, who was out with an injury sustained against Guelph last week. Alex Vreeken stepped up for his first ever start. 

“I think at times when you have a player, like a healthy player like James, go down people can falter. But I think it kind of shows the brotherhood of our team that we kind of just all embrace each other,” Vreeken said in an interview with The Journal.

Ever since Keenan got hurt, the whole team took on this mindset.

“Against Guelph when James went down, I was a little like, okay here we go, and immediately guys like Richard, guys like Walt, immediately just came over and were like with me from the start,” Vreeken said. 

“[They were] in my ear just giving me advice and calming me down so that was really good […] This whole week I’ve just felt like kind of loved by the team.”

Announced by the Queen’s Bands and the spirit squads, Queen’s entered the stadium ready to see what this quarterback could do. The game started slowly with Queen’s conceding a safety to York for the first two points of the game. 

“We had a slow start, but I think that actually had a lot to do with their front seven on [York] defense, that’s a really good front seven and they played us really tough stopping our run so we kind of had to make some adjustments,” Head Coach Steve Snyder said in an interview with The Journal. 

Queen’s also took some penalties early on which hurt their initial field position. 

After Queen’s tight offensive work last week against Guelph, York knew what to expect and looked prepared to shut down the Gaels—until Queen’s stepped up.

Near the end of the first quarter Queen’s still didn’t have any points, but were in an excellent position at the one-yard line. Vreeken and the offensive line decided they wanted to put up seven points by whatever means necessary. 

Queen’s tried twice to have Anthony Soles rush it over the line. However, they were unable to clear a path like they usually do. Instead of kicking on the third down, Soles chose to get creative. He got ready to rush again, but instead of running it in, he jumped up and launched himself over the pile and into the endzone for a touchdown. 

“We started off a little slow and then we kind of figured things out I guess,” Vreeken said. 

Queen’s kept their momentum for the rest of the game and finished off the quarter with Vreeken finding Richard Burton in the endzone. 

After the Gaels recovered from the slow start, their receiving corps got going and delivered two more touchdowns. The defensive line kept up the momentum too and forced a safety. Going into the second half the scoreboard read 30-2.

“Every game we kind of build confidence individually and as a unit too. Our whole offense we’ve been building up from the start of the year […] it’s progressively gotten better as we move forward in the season,” wide receiver Richard Burton said in an interview with The Journal. 

Burton had another incredible game with a touchdown and seven receptions for 113-yards. Coach Snyder spoke extremely highly of him post-game. 

“Ultra-reliable and competitive. He’s really started to hit his stride now. If we focus on getting him targets, he’s going to get catches. That’s kind of the story there. He did a good job.” 

Coach Snyder also recognized Vreeken, saying, “he looked poised, he threw the ball well, overall, I thought he had a good game […] good for his first start, he did a tremendous job.”

In the second half, Queen’s continued to put up points. They started off the third quarter with a field goal followed by two more touchdowns. 

Soles was on fire. After the tricky touchdown in the first, he rushed in two more, making him the top offensive scorer in the country. He spoke humbly about this accomplishment and will keep looking ahead. 

“Right now, I’m kind of more focused on the next weeks but I’m feeling really good,” Soles said in an interview with The Journal.

In the fourth, Queen’s took advantage of their lead and put in rookie quarterback Russell Weir to give him some experience.

Weir picked up where Vreeken left off and threw another two touchdowns for Queen’s. York, on the other hand, couldn’t even get close enough to attempt a field goal—a testament to the impenetrable protection of the Gaels offensive line. 

“The O line, just week after week, they are always doing their job, just always doing beyond their job, going beyond their expectations. They’re doing a great job out there, they keep just freezing defenses,” Burton said of his teammates. 

Queen’s finished with a 61-2 win over the York Lions, recording another win on home turf.

The Gaels will take next weekend off and play again on Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. on Richardson Stadium. As always, tickets to the game are free for any Queen’s student. 


Alex Vreeken, Football, home game, win

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