Nothing but the best

Brandon Meawasige
September 1, 2012
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last year at this time, there were surely many Canadian university students who were either unaware of or otherwise uninterested by the prospects of the 2011 Vanier Cup. But by the winter it became very difficult to find someone who had not heard at least a little bit about the nationally televised battle of epic proportions that decided the eventual champion.

For this year’s McMaster Marauders, who were the victors of last year’s Cup, the challenge is no longer to win the Vanier, but instead to defend it.

It’s not always easy being the team on top. In addition to holding off the stiff competition both from the OUA and around the CIS, the Marauders will have to deal with pressures at home.

Treated to such a storybook performance by the 11-1 Maroon and Grey last year, the students, faculty, alumni and entire McMaster community will surely be expecting to follow their team until well after the last game of the regular season schedule, set to take place October 20 against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. And rightfully so.

For years Mac has been regarded as one of the nation’s premier football programs, missing only the national title in its trophy case. Now, with no trail left to blaze, head coach Stefan Ptaszek will have to rally his troops for a long battle, which will kick-off Sept. 3 as McMaster hosts the Guelph Gryphons at Ron Joyce Stadium.

The sure sell-out will kick off the school’s frosh week festivities and provide Mac with an electric home atmosphere. Last year’s lone meeting between the two teams produced a 37-13 road game victory for the Marauders.

Before any football is played each year, the CIS selects its top ten teams heading into the new season. With the Marauders earning the number-one spot, OUA rivals Queen’s, Western and Windsor also found their way into the rankings, once again making the OUA the premier conference in Canadian Interuniversity Sport football.

A powerhouse conference, a top national ranking, two Cups to defend and a school with high expectations; each are a harsh reality for this Marauder team who have had an offseason of many question marks already.

At first it appeared that Jason Medeiros, a key lineman, and star quarterback Kyle Quinlan were going to find glory in the greener pastures of the CFL. However, after stints at training camp with the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes, respectively, both players will be back for one more season at Ron Joyce.

The Marauders have suffered a 28-22 pre-season loss to the Laval Rouge et Or, who Mac defeated in the Vanier Cup game. Visiting Quebec for the first and only exhibition play this season, Marauders lost the Aug. 26 game using a mix of first-, second- and third-string players, so there is no reason to be alarmed.

For Laval, the game represented a chance at redemption, and in a way they found it with their slim victory. For McMaster, wins and losses don’t matter for a few more days, so Kyle Quinlan and Co. still have an endless window of possibilities. Perhaps there is an undefeated season fashioned after the NCAA powerhouses in the stars, or maybe Mac will take the road less travelled again and follow their movie-esque season from a year ago.

Whatever the case, 2012 will be a year to remember for McMaster football.


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