Early season football analysis
C/O Travis Nguyen
Kicker: After a tough opener against the Mustangs, the Marauders have a big season ahead.
Although the McMaster Marauders football team started their season with a tough loss against the Western Mustangs in their opening game, the reigning provincial champions are confident of progressing through the year with considerable success.
The opening game against the Mustangs was the first game the Marauders played in over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the Ontario University Athletics association cancelling numerous championships to curb the spread of the virus. McMaster had won the 2019 Yates Cup prior to the cancellations, having beat the Mustangs 29-15 in London, allowing the team to come into the opening game with full confidence.
The Marauders did not start the opening game well. Within the first quarter they were trailing 7-0. Things did not get better for them within the second quarter either, at which point they were losing 14-0, with Keon Edwards scoring the first two touchdowns in the game. Although the Marauders’ state did not change much in the second quarter, Jackson Cooling managed to hit back with a six yard touchdown.
The closest the Marauders got to a lead was in the third quarter, where they played significantly better, scoring two field goals. Both field goals came courtesy of Adam Preocanin, who managed to bring the game to only a four goal difference at the end of the third quarter. Although the Mustangs’ Brian Garrity hit back with a 45 yard field goal mid-quarter, the Marauders narrowed the Mustangs’ lead by the end of the quarter to a score of 13-17.
In the fourth quarter all went south for the Marauders, as they found themselves in their deepest hole yet. After a hopeful third, the Mustangs put their efforts on display, as they scored several touchdowns and one field goal in just 15 minutes. The start of the disappointing quarter began 16 seconds into the play, where Keon Edwards scored a touchdown (his third of the game). Just four minutes later, G. Campbell scored yet another touchdown for the Mustangs, this time from a long 25 yard pass from Jackson White. The last touchdown of the game came from Brett Ellerman, who put the Mustangs ahead in a big lead of 38-13. The final points of the game came from Brian Garrity, who scored a 25 yard field goal, concluding the scoreline to a brutal 13-41 defeat for the Marauders in their first game of the season.
While the game did disappoint, the Marauders are still confident that their season will continue on good terms; they are keeping their heads up. Ryan Leder, the Marauders defensive end, stressed the importance of the team keeping their spirits up, noting that the first loss has not affected their morale.
On the topic of returning to play after substantial time off, Leder didn't hesitate to show his sheer excitement for the comeback of the varsity sport after a year and a half.
“It almost seemed like [COVID-19] was a never ending off season . . . It was a very tough time but I am extremely excited to be back and playing. On our first game against [the Mustangs], the audience was amazing and it's truly something that we all missed,” said Leder
The next game that the Marauders play comes against the Waterloo Warriors, on Oct. 2. Although it is their second game of the season, it will be the first time the Marauders will play in front of a home crowd after over a year. As such, the event will also be considered as a homecoming. When asked about the homecoming and the fans, Leder invited all McMaster students to come and support the team.
“It's been a very long time, all of us are very motivated to do well. We are all excited to finally play in front of a big crowd and we need your support. McMaster has been on the forefront with COVID-19 and I am certain that the game will be a safe environment for all,” said Leder.
The tickets for the homecoming game against the Warriors are on sale now, and are available on the Marauders Website.