Champs open season with loss

Gaels look to reverse fortune against the Lancers

Even in a loss to the McMaster Marauders, the Gaels proved they won’t be pushovers this season. In Hamilton, Queen’s maintained constant pressure in their 23-18 loss which showcased second-year quarterback Justin Chapdelaine.

The turnover in Gaels football, with 13 players graduating last year, was the talk of the summer. The 2010 Gaels won’t be looking to the past and will set their own goals for this season.

Chapdelaine said the team’s goal had been to go undefeated and return to the Vanier Cup. Their loss to McMaster may have ruined their first goal, however Chapdelaine said their game plan for this weekend’s game against Windsor is simple.

“Eliminate mistakes,” he said. “Be consistent in our game play and stay focused.”

“I feel from last year we do have to work a little bit harder,” he said. “We do have a lot of guys missing. The OUA is up in the air. We’ve just got to work hard on our grind.”

The ‘grind’ started at the end of finals for Chapdelaine last year. He remained in Kingston for the summer in order to train and prove to the coaching staff that he was committed to taking over the quarterback position.

“I worked hard in the off-season,” he said. “A lot of the coaches were around and I think I proved to them that I can have a starting role on the team and be a leader.”

With a solid attempt at tying the game in the final minutes, Chapdelaine believed it was errors made throughout the game that forced themselves into a do-or-die moment.

“We just had a lot of mistake in crucial parts of the game which led us to eventually lose,” he said. “We came up really close at the end but it wasn’t good enough. We wanted to beat them by a lot.”

The loss should not raise alarms amongst Gaels fans. Chapdelaine managed one touchdown and 314 yards in his first full university football game. McMaster never pulled far from the reach of the Gaels as they continued to battle in the game.

“It was upsetting losing the last game,” he said. “Still, there was a feeling that we could have beat them, that we should have beat them and that if we see them again and prepare a bit better prior to the game, we can come up with the W.”

The ‘W’ will hopefully come this weekend against the Windsor Lancers. Queen’s benefited from a bye week due to the suspension of the Waterloo football program during the summer. Chapdelaine said that the week was spent training, aiming to eliminate the errors made in their first game.

“We just prepared for Windsor,” he said. “It wasn’t a slack week off. We had one day of rest.” The season-opener won’t weigh on the football team even if it was their first season opening with a loss since 2005.

“Last game we did lose,” he said. “However that won’t be on our minds. What’s done is done. We’ll move on and go to the next game. It’s a big game. It’s also a chance to channel our anger from the loss against Mac, and to show the fans that this new Queen’s team is the real deal.”

Even with a loss opening the season, the Gaels will have something to celebrate coming back to Richardson Stadium this Sunday. The captains of the 2009 squad quarterback Danny Brannagan and defensive lineman Osie Ukwuoma, will be returning to help raise the Vanier Cup banner.

The Gaels will then face off against the Windsor Lancers at 1:00 p.m. The Lancers are 1-1 after recording a win against the University of Toronto last weekend. The Lancers have a strong foundation with 16 returning players and second-year quarterback Sam Malian.

Their two wins last season may delude opponents into mistaking the Lancers for pushovers, but Queen’s should be cautious not to rest on this perception. In what will be an exciting game with the return of the Vanier Cup and the kick-off to Gaels football in Kingston, Queen’s will be able to feed off this atmosphere and pull out a win for the crowd.

The Queen’s Gaels are back at home this Sunday at 1p.m. to play the Windsor Lancers at Richardson Stadium.

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