Home sweet home
After a convincing victory against the York Lions by a score of 54-14, the McMaster Marauders inched one step closer to a perfect season. Last year, winning the national championship, Mac finished 7-1 in the regular season and this year’s perfect result so far is, in fact, an improvement.
Approaching this weekend’s homecoming game, Mac has a chance to improve on their result from last year. The injury trouble experienced by this team has been notable; regardless, the Marauders have responded with spectacular play, making the injuries simply a bump in the road.
“Regardless of our injuries issues, we try to push and get better every week. The quest for the Yates cup is not one you can succeed at every week if you don’t try and get better. Instead of focusing on who isn’t there, we try to focus on developing on who is there,” said Head Coach Stefan Ptaszek of his team’s resilience so far this season.
Mac’s injuries have been less notable this season due to the sizeable contribution from players like running back Kaesean Davis. “The big thing with the injuries to Chris Pezzetta and Jimmy hill has been he development of Kasean Davis. Everyone sees the great open field funning, but its pass protection and the things that are harder to spot which make this kid special. He can pick up a linebacker blitzing full speed, even with his limited experience. He has been a joy to watch,” said Ptaszek.
It is not just the offence that needs help either. The defence has experienced its fair share of challenges as the usually dominant secondary has had some bumps and bruises. According to Ptaszek, “Our secondary is a little dinged up and you are seeing the emergence of our younger players filling in the roles. Some of these young kids can play. We are getting great play from a very good rookie class.”
It may be the veterans, it may be the rookies, but something about this team is different and unique, even from last years history-making squad. Obviously, a 6-0 team is one with a plethora of solid players. But only 12 men can be put on the field at once. Maybe McMaster has something else in its arsenal.
“At the end of the process, to earn first place and have home advantage during the playoffs. We are definitely aware of this and we need to win one of the next two games to guarantee that. Hopefully a sold out crowd at Ron Joyce will help us do that,” said Ptaszek of his upcoming weekend.
“We want to continue to grow that culture, loyalty and develop that fan base not only now but throughout the playoffs. Having home field advantage, including a possible national semi-final on campus is important. That 13th man is going to be a big help as the competition gets tighter and the margins for error get smaller,” he continued.
The support of Mac fans has been electric this year. Something about defending a national championship has translated into a campus wide appreciation for football that didn’t even exist a year ago.
Ptaszek is thankful for this, and commented, “Playing our tougher opponents at home has been amazing. Getting to play our tougher opponents at home was great, and the fans were a big part of that.”
This weekend, McMaster will look to live up to the expectations of the team and the coach: a sold out stadium of cheering and passionate fans. At the same time, those crazed fans are excited for what they have come to expect - a sizeable win at Ron Joyce.
The game itself will kick-off at Ron Joyce on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. and with a victory, the Marauders will clinch home advantage in the playoffs, a luxury they did not have last season, and we all know how that one ended.