Looking to beat McMaster again

Football gears up for first playoff game against Marauders since shock 25-19 win four years ago

Defensive lineman Shomari Williams sacks Western quarterback Michael Faulds during Queen’s 27-26 win at Richardson Stadium on Oct. 17.
Defensive lineman Shomari Williams sacks Western quarterback Michael Faulds during Queen’s 27-26 win at Richardson Stadium on Oct. 17.
Gaels running back scores a touchdown against Western on Oct. 17.
Gaels running back scores a touchdown against Western on Oct. 17.

After securing first-place in the OUA and the esteem that accompanies it, a Gaels loss tomorrow would be the glass slipper on the McMaster Marauders’ Cinderella story.

After a 27-15 overtime victory against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees last weekend, the Marauders travel to Richardson Stadium for the OUA semifinal game to play the Gaels team that beat them two months ago.

Gaels’ head coach Pat Sheahan said his team’s not considering anyone an underdog.

“Planning for them to play poorly isn’t part of the plan,” he said. “There’s no soft spots on the schedule from here on. If McMaster comes in here and doesn’t play well it would be a surprise to everyone.” The 7-1 Gaels enter Saturday’s game having not seen the field since their 25-13 loss to the Laurier Golden Hawks in Waterloo on Oct. 24. Their first-place status garnered them a first-week bye through the OUA quarter-finals last weekend.

Sheahan said the loss to the Golden Hawks is a useful motivational tool.

“Our one loss this year was a very sobering reminder of what the consequences are when you don’t play you’re best on a particular day,” he said. “Maybe in some respects the loss to Laurier was a good thing, in the sense that it helps shake the mental preparation as we go forward. It makes you more determined.”

With several core players in their fifth year of eligibility, including quarterback Danny Brannagan and defensive lineman Osie Ukwuoma, Sheahan said this is the year to win.

“Sometimes when you go through these experiences you think, ‘Well ok, we’ve got a good group back next year, we’ll go get a title then,’” he said. “But now it’s time this group has come of age and they’re ready to carve out their piece of the Queen’s football egg.”

Although there’s three games between now and the Vanier Cup, Sheahan said they’re only thinking about tomorrow’s game.

“If we don’t get by Saturday there is no looking forward, so that’s where our efforts are focused on.”

Tomorrow promises to be much different that the last time the two teams met.

The two quarterbacks that faced off in the Sept. 12 meeting probably won’t play at all tomorrow. Two months ago, an injury to Brannagan in the first quarter saw rookie Justin Chapdelaine and Thomas Howes share a majority of the minutes.

Marauders quarterback Ryan Fantham played in the September game. Since, Fantham has been sidelined with Kyle Quinlan assuming McMaster’s starting role.

Tomorrow’s game will also see Gaels running backs Marty Gordon and Jimmy Therrien playing together for the second time in the entire season, Sheahan said.

Brannagan said the week off provided time for the necessary preparations.

“Offensively, we’re going up against the number one defence in the country,” he said. “For a full week, we got to go out there and test ourselves, and improve on the things we haven’t been doing well.”

The Gaels averaged 34 points a game this season and the Marauders held them to eight in September. The McMaster defence allowed an average of 18.5 points a game, the sixth best in the country and one spot above the Queen’s defense.

Brannagan said he didn’t care who the team was destined to play in the semifinals.

“I don’t think I was necessarily hoping for one team or another,” he said. “With the week off you just get a little antsy and you want to get out there and play, it doesn’t really matter who it is.”

The football team kicks off against the McMaster Marauders at 1 p.m.tomorrow at Richardson Stadium.

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