Milestone year for football

Bagg returns from CFL for one more season

Last year’s men’s football team reached the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Last year’s men’s football team reached the playoffs for the first time in three years.
Journal File Photo

The 125th season of Queen’s football is shaping up to be a memorable one.

Along with special season’s ticket offers and celebrations involving notable football alumni, the team aims to build on last season when it made the playoffs and upset the McMaster Marauders.

Head coach Pat Sheahan hopes his team will be buoyed by the celebration of Queen’s rich football history.

“The underlying theme for the season is ‘tradition provides fuel for the future,’” he said.

Although training camp doesn’t start until mid-August, as many as 35 players have been training in Kingston on their own time in anticipation of the milestone year.

Sheahan said he can already tell this is a hard-working group.

“If I was to compare this to the last five or six years, this group here is working as hard as any other group did. I have sensed something different about this group.”

Last season, which saw the Gaels head to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years, has given Queen’s football fans many reasons to be optimistic prior to the 2007-08 campaign.

Sheahan said the team will have to work on their offence, however.

“We have to be a lot better on offence. In 2006, despite the fact that we improved our record from the previous year, it may have been our worst year on offence since 2000,” he said. “Missed opportunities and the running game only clicking in the last three or four games of the year added up to a mediocre performance on offence. A great defensive effort was lost last year.”

Gaels offence will get a boost from the return of Rob Bagg for his fifth year. Bagg cracked the Saskatchewan Roughriders lineup in June, but decided he had more to prove at Queen’s.

“A lot of the younger players on the team are ready to be stars and are waiting for their time and opportunity, and I feel my role is to show them how to work hard, set and chase their goals,” he said. “I didn’t want to graduate feeling as though I hadn’t left a positive impression with Queen’s football.”

Sheahan is confident Bagg’s experience on the field will help other receivers improve significantly.

“As a senior last he year gave us tremendous leadership and great special teams play. To have him come back at the pinnacle of his intercollegiate career has us excited—it’s brought up the level of the entire receiving corps.”

Danny Brannagan returns as quarterback to lead the

team’s offence.

The defence has many key returning members, including linebacker DJ Mulholland, also returning for his fifth year.

Sheahan said the Gaels had a successful recruiting year, especially on the offensive line, where newcomers Matt O’Donnell, Jordan Kirchburger and Patrick Sullivan are expected to battle for regular playing time following the departure of

Ryan Freeman.

The top recruit for receiver is Will Van Reuven from Lakeshore Collegiate, while Izzy Malik is a promising running back out of Thunder Bay.

“[Malik] can give us perimeter speed that we’ve been lacking since the graduation of Bryan Crawford,” Sheahan said.

Despite all of the festivities surrounding this landmark year, the Gaels’ on-field success will come down to the performance of the offence, Sheahan said.

“We need to establish the run, be more high-percentage and take our shots now and again. That fits our personnel quite well and we’re going to be a contender if we get there.”

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