Guelph provides another test for Gaels

Gaels need to show their mettle against the 2-0 Gryphons if they hope for success this season

Despite the outright 40-7 shellacking of the Windsor Lancers last weekend, the Gaels football team of 2010 has much to accomplish. The Lancers may have a stronger squad than either Toronto or York but they still sit in the cellar of the OUA and don’t provide much of a measuring stick for a playoff-hopeful.

Entering this week 2-0, having just come off a bye week, the matchup with the Guelph Gryphons should provide a good test of the team’s ability before they run the gauntlet of the nationally ranked Ottawa and Western.

Following the Windsor game, Pat Sheahan commented on the advantage a bye week can provide this week’s opponent.

“Whenever you’re playing a team that has a week off, there’s always a chance there could be a few wrinkles in there that you haven’t seen,” he said. “They’ve had more than enough time to polish up a couple new schemes for us, leaving us adjusting on game day.” Still, the Gryphons have only played Toronto and York beating them 15-13, 26-2 respectively. Historically Guelph has been a middle of the road team, and this season seems no different. While they may possess some upset capabilities, the Guelph Gryphons are a team that the Gaels will need to put away in order to make the most of the short eight-game season, especially since both the Gaels and the Gryphons appear to be at an uncertain point in the season.

The 1-1 Gaels lost to McMaster by a small margin and handily crushed Windsor while the Gryphons haven’t seen any top calibre teams in the 2010 season. With the graduation of their quarterback, Justin Dunk, the Guelph program is dawning on a new era. Sheahan could only praise Dunk’s playmaking abilities. “Dunk was a big cog in their offense,” he said. “You’ll recall sometimes he was at his best when the whole thing broke down. He’d run this way and run that way and find somebody open. A guy like Dunk makes everybody around him better.” Despite the losses to graduation on both sides, Sheahan feels the weekend game could still involve some fireworks.

“They’ve got some high powered offensive players. Jedd Gardner [is] one of the top receivers in the league, [he’s a] play maker with great breakaway speed. They’ve also got running back [Nick] FitzGibbon, a senior fifth-year guy [whose a] quality performer, [a] big play guy,” Sheahan said. “We’ve had some wide-open affairs at Guelph, so we need to be ready for anything.” To be successful this week the Gaels need to continue building around the offensive style of rookie quarterback, Justin Chapdelaine. Unlike the pocket passing Danny Brannagan, Chapdelaine’s scrabbling ability is an asset that the offense must promote. Last week against Windsor Chapdelaine rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries while running back Jimmy Therrien rushed for 49 yards on 15 carries. The defence also needs to make sure that it remains sharp after it comes out of an arguably light week.

Last year the Gryphons exploded for 49 points only to lose on a last second field goal to the Vanier cup champions, 52-49. In an eight game season a lot is on the line by game three.

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