Big show set up for season finale

Playoff implications for final regular season game at Richardson Stadium against Laurier

Jonah Pataki has been a key offensive weapon this year.
Jonah Pataki has been a key offensive weapon this year.
With the first sellout game of the season set for the Homecoming football match-up against the Laurier Golden Hawks, fifth-year fullback Justin Gleben isn’t too caught up in the fanfare of the event.
“It’s really not much different than any other week,” he said. “We have to prepare the same as we would for any other opponent.”
The 5-2 Gaels come into their final regular season game a week removed from clinching a playoff spot, while 3-4 Laurier is looking to advance to the playoffs with a win of their own. Though they’ve already punched their ticket to the post-season, the major incentive for Queen’s with the victory is the possibility of clinching a home playoff date with a win.
Home for the Gaels will be changing very soon, as Richardson Stadium is set to be renovated over the course of the offseason. For the team, they’re looking to play as many games as possible in Kingston.
“It’ll be beneficial to be playing at home,” Gleben said of both Saturday’s game and the possibility of a playoff game. “We don’t have to make that long bus ride in the morning the day of the game.”
The Gaels played Laurier in one of their two Homecoming game in 2013. The game featured a 40-34 overtime victory following holder Aaron Gazendam’s bizarre touchdown play off a failed field goal attempt.
Though the game had no shortage of excitement, Queen’s receiver Doug Corby isn’t hoping for another close match-up.
“We want to come out there strong and have four quarters of dominance,” he said. “We don’t want it to come down to the last dying seconds of the game.”
Fresh off a 104-yard touchdown last week, Corby hinted at the Gaels having potential for big plays in the upcoming game.
“We’ve got a couple special things planned out,” he said. “Everyone’s going to have to wait and see.”
Head coach Pat Sheahan isn’t looking to downplay his opponents, despite the Golden Hawks’ losing record.
“They’re a very capable team,” he said. “This should be a very, very interesting game.” 
Sheahan likened the game to a playoff atmosphere, but said it’s a little different without the possibility of elimination — at least from their point of view.
“For us, getting that home game in the playoffs is extremely important. For them, earning a birth in the playoffs is everything,” he said.
With both teams knowing the  importance of the season’s final day, Sheahan knows his team must play to their full potential to secure the win.
“It’s going to be a question of execution, desire, precision,” he said.
For a team with an average home attendance under 2,500 on the season, Sheahan knows his team will look to have a strong performance ahead of the expected crowd.
“College football is best played under a circumstance of pageantry,” he said. “When the stadium’s full, and the people are having a good time, it’s a great atmosphere to play in.”
“We know that the crowd is going to be excited, we know that the opponent is going to be good. This is a great time of year to play football. There should be a great atmosphere on [Saturday].”
With the OUA playoff race an incredibly tight one, the Gaels have the chance to finish anywhere from third to sixth in the standings.
“I think there’s five or six teams that are very, very competitive,” Sheahan said.
Sheahan added that the difficulty for the games taking place close to the time of midterms for most players.
“A lot of the student-athletes are at a busy time of the year now,” he said. “They’re not  out at the stadium six hours a day now, getting ready for a big game. They’re trying to manage football along with the other requirements of being a university student. That makes it interesting, it really does. You’re not going to be at peak performance, you’re not at your best every time out.”
Sheahan knows his team must bounce back from any setbacks they overcome on the weekend.
“It’s a 15-rounder,” he said, likening the game to a lengthy boxing match. “If you’re down for a couple minutes, make sure that you come back the next time you have the ball. If the defence allows a play, the offence has to come back and counter. If the offence explodes, the defence has to go out and be stout.”
While students may be tempted to exit the game before the conclusion, Sheahan warned that the game should prove to be exciting throughout its entirety.
“In our case, we’ve proven to be a team where you best not leave early,” he said. “Don’t come for three quarters and leave. Whether we’re ahead or behind, there are some interesting things that happen in the football games. I think that our players have done a great job of overcoming a lot of the challenges.”
Graphic By Ashley Quan

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