Gaels vie for top prize against Dinos

Football team makes its first Vanier Cup appearance since 1992 tomorrow in Quebec City

The football team celebrates winning the Mitchell Bowl after a shock 33-30 win over the first-ranked Laval Rouge-et-Or last Saturday at Richardson Stadium.
The football team celebrates winning the Mitchell Bowl after a shock 33-30 win over the first-ranked Laval Rouge-et-Or last Saturday at Richardson Stadium.

The Queen’s football season has lasted as long as it possibly could have.

The Gaels left on Tuesday for Quebec City. On Saturday they’ll play the University of Calgary Dinos in the Vanier Cup at PEPS Stadium—the home field of the Laval Rouge-et-Or.

The Gaels’ 33-30 Mitchell Bowl victory last weekend at Richardson Stadium robbed the heavily-favoured Rouge-et-Or from playing in the 2009 Vanier Cup.

Fifth-year wide receiver Scott Valberg said the Gaels won’t settle for the honour of competing.

“We can’t rest on the fact that we just won a Bowl game,” he said. “We want the whole thing.”

The Gaels play away from home tomorrow for the first time in three games and the first time in the 2009 playoffs.

Valberg said the excitement surrounding the Vanier Cup won’t affect his team’s concentration.

“The maturity level of our team is going to show this week,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys that know how important it is to stay focused on why we’re there. I don’t think many of the guys are going to get carried away with the media and the other distractions.”

Tomorrow will be head coach Pat Sheahan’s third Vanier Cup competition as a coach. He’s been to the show twice before, once as the offensive coordinator of the McGill Redmen in 1987 and again in 1998 at the helm of the Concordia Stingers. He said the coaching staff’s main objective this week was to minimize the distractions.

“It’s very much a management challenge,” he said. “Organization is the key. We’ve got to get there and have three really good days concentrated days of practice. It’ll be nothing but football and watching film.”

Saturday’s game will be the second time in history and the first in more than 20 years that the Gaels and the Dinos have met.

The last time was in the 1983 Vanier Cup in Toronto, when the Dinos won 31-21.

“It’s the national championship game, so you know you’ll be playing against a quality opponent,” Sheahan said. “There’s no question that getting there is 90 per cent of the battle. Now it’s just a football game. I don’t want to say ‘just’ in the sense that it won’t be a challenge. It will.”

The Dinos beat the Saint Mary’s Univeristy Huskies 38-14 last weekend in the Uteck Bowl. Veteran quarterback Erik Glavic transferred to Calgary from St. Mary’s at the beginning of winter term last year.

Glavic won the Hec Creighton Award for most outstanding player in the CIS after his 2007 season that saw the Huskies lose to the University of Manitoba in the Vanier Cup. He’s the the Canada West nominee for the award this year.

Glavic passed for 2,185 yards this season with the Dinos, about 400 yards shy of Gaels quarterback Danny Brannagan.

The Dinos’ rushing offence is ranked first nationally, averaging 283.4 yards per game.

Defensive lineman Osie Ukwuoma said he’s confident the Gaels defence will answer the challenge.

“They have weapons all over the field,” he said. “They pose some challenges. But they’re definitely beatable.”

If you can’t make it to Quebec City tomorrow, catch the Vanier Cup on TSN or CFRC. Kickoff is at noon.

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