A good sort of Homecoming

Andrew Bucholtz
Andrew Bucholtz

This week’s football clash between Queen’s and the Western Mustangs is not your typical Homecoming game, especially considering that the last five years of Homecoming games have not been overly impressive. Queen’s is 2-3 in that span, but both wins were over weak teams (the 2003 Windsor Lancers, 1-4 heading into the game, and the 2007 Waterloo Warriors, 3-3 heading into the game).

Few of those games were particularly meaningful for the Gaels if you remove them from the Homecoming context. Only one of those five contests—the 22-18 loss to Windsor in 2006—had a margin of victory of less than seven points, so Richardson Stadium has rarely seen a close struggle between two solid teams. When you consider the recent history of Homecoming football, it’s not hard to understand why so many fans annually flock out of the stadium at halftime. Many of those games have been more notable for the pageantry and spectacle surrounding the halftime festivities than any action taking place on the gridiron, and the game has also frequently been overshadowed by the other Homecoming events.

This year is different. This year, the on-field contest is incredibly important. There’s almost a century of football rivalry between Queen’s and Western, and that rivalry has been heating up lately. When you look at the recent history between the teams, including the Gaels’ 26-20 overtime win in Week I of the regular season last year and Western’s subsequent 27-19 upset victory in the first round of the playoffs, there should be plenty of motivation for both sides to put on a show. As Queen’s linebacker Thaine Carter told the Kingston Whig-Standard this week, “It’s going to be two very evenly matched teams and it’s going to be a bloodbath. Get your popcorn ready.”

This game has profound implications for the rest of the CIS teams as well. Western is ranked second in the country, while Queen’s is fourth, so the outcome of Saturday’s battle will drastically affect the rankings. Furthermore, Queen’s and Western are tied for first place in the OUA with 4-0 records, so this grudge match for the ages may be the decisive match of the regular season and may also play a key role in the eventual playoff seedings. Two unbeaten teams enter Richardson Stadium Saturday, but only one team will leave the same way.

For many Queen’s students, this may be the ultimate regular-season game. There are few students still on campus who were here for the relative success found during the Tommy Dennison era, and the team’s history since then has been less than overly inspiring. Plenty of progress has been made in recent years, and the current edition of the Gaels is probably the strongest team they’ve fielded since 2003. This is also likely the last Homecoming where Queen’s students will be able to watch CIS rushing leader Mike Giffin and several of the Gaels’ other star veterans. This team’s had an incredible season so far; they deserve support above and beyond the Homecoming standard.

Homecoming games over the years

Queen’s (4-2) 45, Waterloo (3-3) 0

Windsor (2-0) 22, Queen’s (2-0) 18

Ottawa (1-2) 33, Queen’s (1-2) 18

Western (5-2) 49, Queen’s (2-5) 24

Queen’s (4-1) 51, Windsor (1-4) 17

—Andrew Bucholtz

Queen’s vs. Western by the numbers

Both teams’ wins this season

Queen’s CIS stat leaders

Queen’s Mike Giffin’s rushing yards

Western’s John Leckie rushing yards

Western’s national rank

Queen’s national rank

Queen’s Vanier Cups

Western’s Vanier Cups

Queen’s Grey Cups

Western’s Grey Cups

— Andrew Bucholtz

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