Almost a perfect finish

Giffin hurt as football improves to 8-0

Queen’s Tim Poffley strips the ball from Waterloo’s Spencer Bradbury Saturday. The Gaels won 38-24 to improve to 8-0.
Queen’s Tim Poffley strips the ball from Waterloo’s Spencer Bradbury Saturday. The Gaels won 38-24 to improve to 8-0.
Supplied Photo by Jeff Chan

A host of school and league records fell on Saturday as the football team put the icing on their perfect 8-0 regular season with a 38-22 victory over the Waterloo Warriors. It was the eighth undefeated season in the history of Queen’s football, but this is the first time the Gaels have ever recorded eight wins; prior to 1995, the Gaels played seven games or fewer in each campaign.

A note of gloom marred the proceedings though, as star running back Mike Giffin was injured on the first play of the game from scrimmage and did not return to the field. He will be evaluated by team medical staff this week. Gaels’ wide receiver Scott Valberg said the perfect season was a tremendous accomplishment for the team.

“It’s awesome to be 8-0,” he said. “When we accomplished it, it was a great feeling. A lot of the guys are humble about it; it was just the regular season. We’ve still got the playoffs to go.” Valberg said the injury to Giffin, while concerning, didn’t put Queen’s off its game.

“I didn’t think much of it,” he said. “We figured it’s a meaningless game, so we thought we might as well be cautious. He walked off the field under his own power but you never want to see your guy go down. Everyone did pretty well without him, though.” The Gaels overcame Giffin’s absence despite some early struggles. Waterloo scored the game’s first touchdown within the first five minutes, but Queen’s responded near the end of the first quarter with a 61-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Danny Brannagan to receiver Devan Sheahan.

The Gaels took a lead they never relinquished early in the second quarter when Brannagan hit Valberg with a 20-yard touchdown pass. Brannagan added his third touchdown pass of the day to Valberg shortly before halftime. In the second half, kicker Dan Village added a field goal and backup running backs Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien scored rushing touchdowns.

Valberg said that it was a relief to hear the final whistle and finish the regular season.

“It wasn’t the smoothest win ever; we had some mistakes,” he said. “Marty and Jimmy really stepped up for us. To get that game out of the way was nice. It was a weird week of practice in that it was a meaningless game, but we did what we had to do to win.”

The 38 points they put up against Waterloo gave them 374 points on the year, the highest mark in school history. Queen’s averaged over 47 points per game this season. Also, Valberg became only the 10th receiver in CIS history to surpass the 1,000 yard plateau, finishing with 1,013. His season yardage total was the third-highest in school history, behind Jock Climie’s 1,091 in 1988 and James Maclean’s 1,031 in 2001, but Valberg finished with 45 total catches, seven fewer than Maclean recorded and 13 fewer than Climie had. Valberg said attaining the 1,000-yard mark was surreal for him.

“It’s pretty special to be in that group,” he said. “It’s an awesome feeling, being associated with the Jock Climies, players I grew up watching.” Queen’s first-place finish means they have a bye this weekend, when the third-seeded Laurier Golden Hawks will take on the sixth-seeded McMaster Marauders and the fourth-seeded Ottawa Gee-Gees will host the fifth-seeded Guelph Gryphons. The Gaels will play the lowest-remaining OUA seed at home next weekend.

Valberg said the Gaels would take the extra time they’d been granted to be ready for the semifinal.

“We’re going in with level heads,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of confidence, but this year we have a more mature team. We have two weeks to prepare and we’ll be as physically prepared as possible for the semifinals.”

Valberg said he has high expectations for the postseason.

“Obviously, the goal is to win the Vanier Cup.”

A season of records

Most points scored in a single season in school history.374 pointsQueen's offense
Ties OUA record for most touchdowns scored in
a season.24 touchdown passesDanny Brannagan
Third-most single-season sacks in Queen's history, most in CIS for 2008.9.5 sacks Osie Ukwuoma
Sixth-most sacks in Queen's history, third in CIS for 2008.7.5 sacksDee Sterling
Second-most points in Queen's history, first in OUA for 2008.90 pointsDan Village
Tenth reciever in CIS history to surpass 1,000 yards recieving. Third-most receiving yards in Queen's history. Most in CIS for 2008 season.1,013 recieving yardsScott Valberg- Amrit Ahluwalia

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