More than just another game

Last playoff spot in the OUA on the line

Queen’s lost to Western at the re-opening of Richardson Stadium this season.
Queen’s lost to Western at the re-opening of Richardson Stadium this season.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

With five teams having already clinched playoff berths, a lone playoff spot is up for grabs over the OUA football regular season’s final two weekends.  

On Saturday against the Windsor Lancers, Queen’s begins their late playoff push on the biggest possible stage: Homecoming weekend.

The conference’s top five teams sit at five wins each, while the next four teams — Windsor and Queen’s included — all sit at 2-4.

“It’s kind of like rock-paper scissors,” fourth-year running back Jonah Pataki said of the OUA’s odd divide this season. “We feel like we could be 5-1 if a couple things went differently.”

Though it’s still mathematically possible for the Gaels to win just one of their next two games and earn a playoff berth, the team isn’t looking to leave anything up to chance. Among players and coaches, the message is quite clear: a victory is essential in each of their next two games.

In his weekly pregame press conference, head coach Pat Sheahan discussed two distinct facets of the team’s approaching matchup.

Initially, he detailed the on-field fundamentals of how his team could defeat the Lancers, as both teams head into the weekend with identical 2-4 records.

Sheahan said the “nucleus of the [Gaels] team” is strong defensive play, including a pass defense that’s allowed just 176 yards per game, the lowest in the CIS.

In reference to the team’s 30-6 loss last Friday to McMaster,  Sheahan said he’s looking for increased offensive execution in Saturday’s game.

Sheahan then shifted his focus to the events of Homecoming weekend as a whole, saying that he felt it was the football team’s duty to returning alumni to come out with a victory after losing 49-26 to Laurier the Homecoming prior. 

“Our team has the capacity to rise to the occasion,” he said.

Though he said he’s unsure exactly how the weekend’s festivities will play out, he did give a piece of advice to attending fans and alumni.

“Stay off Aberdeen Street,” Sheahan joked.

Sheahan is happy that the Gaels will play their final two games of the season at home, though he admitted it’s been tough to have been on the road for four of the team’s six games so far. 

“This is the first time all season that the schedule appears to be in our favour,” he said.

Fifth-year linebacker Luke McQuilkin, who suffered injuries in two previous Homecoming games, is looking to reverse his fate and have a final positive Homecoming experience. 

“You always remember the last one,” he said. “I’m just hoping to capture every ounce of the moment.”

Fourth-year offensive lineman John Meenagh added an additional motivation behind pushing for a victory. 

“We want our season to continue as long as it can,” he said. “This might be some of the last football we ever play in our lives.”

 

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