Bring on the ‘Stangs

Frustrated Gaels look to take out high-flying Western team on the weekend

Although the football team has fallen to a bleak 1-3 on the season, no one on the Gaels is going to pass up a chance to take out the University of Western Ontario Mustangs at their homecoming game. The Mustangs boast a 4-1 record coming into Saturday’s action but disparities in records will be forgotten as soon as the players hit the gridiron.

The Mustangs run an effective offensive style primarily focused on rushing. Their running back, Jerimy Hipperson, and quarterback, Donnie Marshall, rank second and third respectively in the OUA for individual rushing and have combined for 920 yards in the first five games of the season. This formidable weapon allows them to open up the passing game for timely plays creating problems for any team.

On the other side of the ball the Mustangs bring a very solid defensive front that currently leads the OUA in sacks. With 10 out of 12 of the starters returning from last year on defence it will be very challenging for the Gaels to navigate their offence up and down the field. That being said, the Gaels have plenty of weapons of their own to take on their arch-nemesis.

After he was pulled early in the game against Ottawa last weekend, Justin Chapdelaine returned and proceeded to silence the critics, throwing 335 passing yards with 54 rushing yards and three total touchdowns.

Another standout from last week was third-year receiver, Giovanni Aprile, who was a benefactor of Chapdelaine’s success: Aprile finished with 179 yards and a receiving touchdown, good enough to earn him OUA play of the week honours.

Jimmy Therrien also looked strong after coming off a quiet game against Guelph; he finished with 90 rushing yards on 16 carries. The defence had an excellent game against Ottawa holding the Gaels together during a shaky start and ultimately making it possible to force overtime. Defensive lineman Ted Festeryga said he feels that the Gaels’ loses have resulted from inconsistency.

“The statistics would identify that we are ahead [of our opposition] in many areas of the game. We just haven’t quite put together both sides of our team and when we start to do that we are going to have a lot of confidence going forward and start winning games,” he said.

In order to win this game the Gaels will need to break their habit of losing close games, because this certainly shouldn’t be a blowout. The offence needs to commit well below their season average of 3.75 turnovers a game and the defence needs to be able to shutdown the running game brought by Hipperson and Marshall. Festeryga said he feels the Gaels are prepared to take on the rush-oriented Mustangs.

“We have a game plan in place that we believe will allow us to shut down the rushing offence of Marshall [and the Mustangs]. If we need to make adjustments we can make those on the fly, but we will be ready for them,” he said.

A hostile crowd and packed stadium should bring the Gaels all of the motivation they need to change their ways. Head coach Pat Sheahan said he looks forward to the rivalry game.

“It’s nice to have a bit of the spectacle and pageantry of college football,” he said. “This is probably as good as it gets on the road for us. We are going to have a huge crowd and there should be a lot of noise and a great college football feeling. I think our guys are excited about that.”

The Queen’s Gaels will take on the Western Mustangs in London this weekend. Game time is at 1 p.m.

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