Who will win the Yates Cup?

McMaster

By Gilbert Coyle
Sports Editor

On Sept. 22, McMaster Athletics suspended Marauders’ quarterback and captain Kyle Quinlan for three games after he was charged with two counts of assault against a police officer and one count of assault for his part in a brawl at a campus bar.

With their best player sidelined, critics expected the Marauders to fold — instead, they haven’t stopped winning. McMaster beat three teams without Quinlan and then destroyed three more upon his return. They ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak, finishing the regular season 7-1 and clinching a first-round bye. They currently sit third in Canada.

The Marauders’ offence can score however and whenever it wants. Quinlan averaged over 341 yards per game to lead CIS quarterbacks, kicker Tyler Crapigna led the CIS with 18 field goals and receiver Gary Spearo returned kicks for a total of 137 yards and one touchdown in a 51-24 win over the Ottawa Gee-Gees on Saturday. If their defence shows up to play, the Marauders will outscore their opponents.

McMaster’s only hiccup was letting the Western Mustangs run for 330 yards in a 48-21 win. But since then, the Marauders have held opponents to less than 200 rushing yards in six straight games. They learned to win close games without Quinlan — now that he’s back, they’re crushing teams.

The Marauders will play Queen’s, Ottawa or Windsor when they host an OUA semifinal. They’ve already beaten all three teams on the road this season — including a 26-2 dismantling of the Gaels at Richardson Stadium on Sept. 5. They’ll beat any of those teams again on home turf after a two-week break.

The Marauders will likely play an injured and struggling Western team in the Yates Cup. Even before eight starters sat out last week’s 37-0 loss in Kingston, a healthy Mustangs squad only beat the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 21-9 on Oct. 15 and relied on a last-minute interception to defeat the Guelph Gryphons 33-29 on Oct. 8. These Mustangs aren’t the same team that beat McMaster on Sept. 10.

The McMaster Marauders have already overcome adversity on and off the field this season. If they play to their potential, they’ll be lifting the Yates Cup on Nov. 12.

Queen’s

By Benjamin Deans
Assistant Sports Editor

The Queen’s football team has everything it needs to win the OUA final on Nov. 12.

After an 0-2 start to the season, the Gaels have turned into a defensive juggernaut that doesn’t give up points. They’ve gone an entire season without allowing a rushing touchdown, posting two shutouts along the way. Head coach Pat Sheahan can count on his defence to allow less than 15 points against any offence.

To win playoff games, they’ll need quarterback Billy McPhee to avoid throwing interceptions and running back Ryan Granberg to reach 150 yards every game. The Gaels have become better at executing that game plan of late — they haven’t turned the ball over in their last two games. They’re on a six-game winning streak and all their key players are healthy.

The team will host the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks in an OUA quarter-final at Richardson Stadium tomorrow. When Laurier visited on Sept. 17, the Gaels won 58-35. They will easily beat the Golden Hawks again.

The Nov. 5 semifinal against the McMaster Marauders will be the team’s toughest matchup of the post-season. The Marauders beat the Gaels 26-2 at Richardson Stadium on Sept. 5. Quarterback Kyle Quinlan is back from suspension and their defence has averaged two interceptions a game. And this time, they’ll be playing the Gaels in Hamilton.

But the Gaels will have momentum from a quarter-final win over the Golden Hawks. Top receiver Giovanni Aprile didn’t play against the Marauders in that Sept. 5 loss — with him in the line-up, their offence should overcome the Marauders’ defence.

After dispatching the Marauders, the Gaels won’t have a problem defeating Western in the OUA final. The Gaels’ defence is the best in Canada at stopping run-based offences like the Mustangs’.

The Mustangs were missing eight key starters when the Gaels blew them out 37-0 last weekend. To beat the Gaels, the Mustangs will need all eight to be 100 per cent — that’s unlikely to happen.

The pieces are all coming together at the right time this season. The defensive line and running game are top-class, while the secondary and pass offence are hitting their stride at the right time. The Yates Cup is theirs for the taking.

Western

By Jake Edmiston
Editor in Chief

As much as it grieves me as the owner of a Wuck Festern T-shirt — I’m taking the Mustangs.

Western’s a lock. They’ve consistently placed in the top two in this season’s national rankings and only dropped to fourth after losing to the Gaels last weekend. The Gaels’ late-season upset has sparked some undue debate on the top contender for the Yates Cup.

It seems the CIS analysts controlling the national rankings weren’t aware that Western fielded their second stringers. Shrewd judgement from head coach Greg Marshall saw Western sit eight regular starters in the 37-0 loss. They sacrificed a perfect season to rest key players and avoid major injuries.

If the Mustangs are healthy, they won’t lose. Their top players won seven straight games to clinch first place with a game to spare.

At full strength, the Mustangs have the strongest rush offence in the country, averaging over 291 yards per game. Running back Nathan Riva, has been a powerhouse for the last two seasons — and he’s not even their top guy. Rookie Tyler Varga leads the CIS with 15 rushing touchdowns and is running for 114 yards per game.

The Mustangs offence isn’t one-dimensional. When teams look to shut down the run, fourth-year quarterback Donnie Marshall can burn them — if he’s healthy. Marshall sprained his ankle earlier this month against the York Lions. But before the Oct. 1 injury, fourth-year Marshall proved himself as a leader who’s comfortable in the pocket.

The McMaster Marauders are tied with the Mustangs for first place in the OUA and they’re Western’s only legitimate competition in the upcoming playoffs. But in the two teams’ last meeting, Western beat the Marauders 48-21 in Hamilton.

If Western’s competing, the Yates Cup will be hosted at TD Waterhouse Stadium in London. The Mustangs haven’t lost at home since 2009. The Mustangs are a proven playoff team. They’ve been to every Yates Cup since 2007 and clinched a Vanier Cup berth last season.

I wouldn’t pick a racehorse because I liked the name. I’m picking one of the most reviled football franchises in the CIS because they’re going to win.

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