Familiar foes on road ahead

Football team headed to Western to take on top rivals

The Gaels look to avenge last year’s 43-12 loss to Western.
The Gaels look to avenge last year’s 43-12 loss to Western.

When discussing rivalries in the OUA, the conversation tends to lead to the Queen’s and Western football matchup. 

The two traditional powerhouse programs meet this Saturday in London, with Western sporting a #3 national ranking, while the Gaels are unranked.  

 Second-year linebacker Michael Moore knows that Queen’s has a difficult, but clear challenge ahead of them.

“They’re a big team; they run the ball,” he said. “They don’t hide much. They’re good at what they do.”

To have a shot in the game, Moore said a strong first quarter will be vital.  

“We’ve got to start quick for sure,” he said. “We can’t let them get rolling. We’ve seen what they can do the last three weeks.”

In their three victories through as many games this regular season, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents by a 209-26 score, with their largest score difference being a 76-7 win over the Windsor Lancers.

“We need to play team defence,” Moore said. “If everyone does their job, we should be alright.”

On the other side of the football, fourth-year running back Jesse Andrews is attempting a different strategy to stay competitive. 

“The best way to keep the score even here is to keep their offence off the field, and in order to do that, we need to keep our offence on the field,” Andrews said. “We need to sustain first downs, and keep the drives going.” 

Andrews added that they need to use a variety of offensive players, rather than repeatedly sticking with one player. In last Saturday’s contest, Andrews carried a large majority of the load, amassing 21 of the Gaels 34 rushes on the day, picking up 192 yards on the ground.

“Especially against a good team like Western, you can’t just have the entire defence key on one ball carrier or one receiver,” he said. “We need to spread the ball, go around the horn with all the receivers.”

Head coach Pat Sheahan knows that the team will face arguably its toughest test of the year against the first-place Mustangs.

“Let’s say it like it is: we’re playing one of the top teams in the country,” he said. “They have no apparent weaknesses.” 

“They’ve got four or five gifted receivers; they have four or five gifted backs; they’ve got a top ranked quarterback both statistically and experience-wise. They’ve got a couple of borderline pros on their offensive line, probably at least two kids there that are going to go and play professional football.”

Sheahan continued to praise nearly every position on the field. 

“They’re solid on the defensive line, solid linebackers, and a very disciplined and sound zone team,” he said. “They’re not afraid to play man-to-man against you and they don’t do a bad job. Their kicking is good. They’re well-coached.”

“We have a formidable challenge this week,” he continued. “We need to bring one of our best games of the season. When we play at our full potential, we can compete with anyone.”

Sheahan knows the chances of a low scoring game are unlikely.     

“Offensively, we need to move the football, answer back and score some points,” he said. “I don’t believe this will be a 10-7 game.” 

While Western may not be the easiest team to gameplan against, his experience facing the squad in the past may be helpful.

“It’s very difficult to scout a team when they’re 50 points ahead of their opponent,” he said. “Fortunately, we know this coaching staff fairly well.”

“We’ve worked against them for the past 15 years since I’ve been here,” Sheahan said. “I don’t believe there’s too many secrets.” 

However, Sheahan knows all the planning in the world doesn’t mean much if the results aren’t there.

“It’s one thing to say we know what they’re doing, it’s another to go out and stop them. Our guys are fired up to go and give it a go.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday at Western’s TD Field.

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