Quick thoughts on 2018 schedule

The 2018 OUA Football schedule was released today …

OUA announces 2018 football schedule

BURLINGTON, Ont. – Ontario University Athletics (OUA) is excited to announce the release of the 2018 football schedule, which will commence on the weekend of August 25th and culminate in the 111th Yates Cup on November 10th.

Full OUA Press Release: 2018 OUA Football Schedule

2018 Schedule.jpg

Gryphons.ca press release: 2018 Football Schedule Announced

Week 1:  Saturday, August 25 – Guelph @ McMaster – 1pm
Week 2:  Monday, September 3 – York @ Guelph – 1pm 
Week 3:  Saturday, September 8 – Guelph @ Ottawa – 1pm
Week 4:  Saturday, September 15 – Guelph @ Windsor – 1pm
Week 5:  Saturday, September 22 – Queen’s @ Guelph – 1pm  *Homecoming*
Week 6:  Saturday, September 29 – Guelph @ Laurier – 1pm 
Week 7:  BYE
Week 8:  Saturday, October 13 – Toronto @ Guelph – 1pm
Week 9:  Saturday, October 20 – Waterloo @ Guelph – 1pm

My Quick Thoughts

After a couple of years of improved scheduling by the OUA, this is a throwback to what we saw prior. The 2013 and 2015 schedules come to mind. The problem … no regular season game with the Western Ontario Mustangs.

This will be the third time in six years that the Gryphons have not faced the purple ponies in a regular season game. That is a real shame when you consider that these teams have been among the conference’s elite over that period of time.

Guelph’s other non-combatant is Carleton, a competitive and talented team even if they missed the 2017 playoffs. I would happily trade games against Windsor, York and UofT for a chance to see the Gryphons face Western and Carleton.

Guelph starts the season with 3 of 4 games on the road. Not a problem in my opinion. The flip-side is that they finish with 3 of 4 at home. The only home-vs-road issue is that the more entertaining match-ups tend to be the road ones – McMaster, Laurier and hopefully Ottawa. At home, Guelph fans will be lucky if they see two entertaining games, with Queen’s and Waterloo the only possibilities.

One positive that surprises me … the Gryphons will have their Bye Week on Thanksgiving weekend for the fourth year in a row.

As a fan who attends almost every game, when I see the schedule I quickly weigh the value of the road trips. The Mac and Laurier games are no-brainers with both less than a 90 minute drive from my Niagara home. Whether Elisabeth and I make road trips to Ottawa and Windsor on back-to-back weekends (Weeks 3 & 4) is a different question. One that will have to wait until closer to the date to be answered.

GO GRYPHONS!

 

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Q & A with Recruiting Coordinator Todd Galloway

Ten months ago there was a surprise announcement – Boom! A new OC for the Gryphons.

The catalyst for that announcement was fact that OC Todd Galloway had accepted a newly-created position as the football program’s first, full-time Recruiting Coordinator. Galloway served six seasons as the Gryphons offensive coordinator before accepting the new position back in February.

Yates Cup coaches 2015

Todd Galloway (centre) after the 2015 Yates Cup     Photo: Lou Toppan

Before Christmas I sent Todd some questions about his new role and the current recruiting class. He graciously responded.

1. It has been ten months now since you took over the role of Recruiting Coordinator on a full-time basis. I know you were always involved in recruiting but what do you think about the job now that you’ve been doing it for almost a full cycle?

It has been a great advantage to have someone full time in this role.  Being able to host recruits and do more visits in season has paid off.  Also, being able to get away for a day or two here and there to watch more games and be present for big recruits has really helped.  I really enjoy the process and getting to know the recruits and their families.  It’s very rewarding helping them find their way to what’s best for them.

2. How much travelling have you done? Do you have enough Air Miles yet for a family vacation?

Haha, there has been some extra travel yes!.  I’ve been, and we have been as a team, to just about every province in the last three months.  I have put a heavy focus on spending time in Quebec and made trips to BC and Alberta, as well as places all over Ontario.

3. Am I correct in thinking this a breakthrough year for the Gryphons with respect to recruiting in Quebec? I predicted months ago that Guelph would sign 6-8 CEGEP recruits. Up to this point 5 have publicly committed to Guelph. Do you expect, or hope, to sign more? If so, can you tell us how many you think that might be? Also, how many are enrolling for the Winter semester?

Yes, this has been a breakthrough year for us in Quebec. It has been a lot of work over the last 3-4 years laying the ground work.  Then the addition of Coach JF has added another layer of comfortability and credibility.  To date there are 5, yes. The hope is to sign at least a couple more.  There are several we are still actively recruiting.  They are drawn to our facilities and how serious we take our approach to winning and building young men.  Five total players will be starting in the winter semester – 4 from CEGEP and Carter Wilson, who’s transferring from UND. [Editor’s note: Univ of North Dakota, an NCAA FCS program]

4. Guelph has been committed to recruiting Quebec’s CEGEPs since the final years of Stu Lang’s tenure. For example, someone told me that QB/TE Phillip Charpentier of Campus Notre Dame de Foy [CNDF] in Quebec City was a player that you personally started recruiting four years ago. How much of this year’s success is due to Stu’s initial commitment and this staff’s continued work in Quebec, and how much can be attributed to the addition of offensive coordinator J-F Joncas to the staff?

It is a mix of both.  We made the conscious effort about 4 years ago to try to break into CEGEP recruiting and came very close on a couple kids every year.  AJ Chase last year kind of broke the mold and gave us a foot in the door, along with Alain Cimankinda.  What JF has brought is a bit of a comfort for those wanting to learn in English but not fully bilingual, and credibility, being one of the more well respected coaches in Quebec.

5. In my opinion Guelph has an organization loaded with strong, committed recruiters from head coach Kevin MacNeill, to the coordinators, through the position coaches and including volunteer scouts and recruiters like Steve O’Brien and John Casasanta. With a group that big can you give us a sense of how much of your job is coordinating, organizing and managing those people and their activities? How much of the recruiting is still based on regional territories and how much is based on other criteria?

We couldn’t do all the work we do without the whole team.  It has taken a lot of organizational work at the start, but really they are all such great, self motivated, dedicated guys that it allows me to now start forward thinking more with recruiting.

We have quarterly recruiting meetings with the whole group and then I help manage them by keeping very open lines of communication about our needs for recruiting. We still have certain guys recruit regions for us, but we are much more strictly a needs based recruiting team now.  We have built some criteria for a formula we want at each position to help guide them and then rank based on our needs.

6. Heading into the Christmas recruiting blackout period (Dec 21 – Jan 3) I’m aware of 16 committed recruits. They appear to be a very talented group and I have already written … This is going to be a very, very good recruiting class. Perhaps the best in years for the Gryphons. Am I setting expectations too high? What can Gryphon fans expect with respect to the balance of the 2018 recruiting class, both in terms of numbers and quality? 

Every year we feel like recruiting has gone well and could be the best year ever.  This year does feel a little extra special.  We have filled some great needs at certain positions and broken into territory where we haven’t really had success before.  I suspect we are about half done.  We still have some areas we need to address at certain positions and are working hard to keep the momentum going as soon as the blackout is over.

7. In recent years Gryphon football has had some of the best, if not the best, facilities in the OUA. The recently opened $10-million Football Pavilion takes that advantage to another level. We were told it was going to be a game changer. Is there any way for you to explain how much of an impact it has made on this recruiting class, whether it be getting top prospects to visit the school or swaying decisions?

This new facility has had an incredible impact.  Enough so that we don’t really talk about it too much because it just speaks for itself.  I like to make sure recruits and families know that it is not just a very fancy locker room with cool toys in it, it is a great place of learning, living and student support.  Since it’s opening, we’ve had players doing homework and meeting with tutors almost every day in it.

For those that are very serious about football, and looking to go pro, we can now give them some of the best facilities in the country to excel and develop their craft.  We’ve also seen interest from Canadian-born players in the NCAA that are showing interest in coming home.  This facility can give players in Canada one of the closest experiences to the NCAA possible while being able to stay closer to home, get a great Canadian education and be much more supported as a young man to grow and develop.
 

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The 2018 recruiting class at Christmas Break

U Sports football is in the midst of the Christmas recruiting blackout. During this period, which runs from December 21 until January 3, U Sports teams cannot contact prospective student-athletes. Student athletes are however allowed to contact U Sports coaches.

Quantity

Guelph headed into the blackout period with 15 announced commitments. You can review the list here. At this point in time Windsor leads all OUA teams with approximately 24 committed recruits, followed by Guelph and Western with 15.

One interesting trend … ten of the 15 recruits have come from two sources. Five are from London’s South Collegiate Lions and five are from Quebec CEGEP programs.

Quality

I have said previously that this recruiting class looks like it will be an excellent one.

This is going to be a very, very good recruiting class. Perhaps the best in years for the Gryphons.

The strength of the class so far is the linemen – 5 DLs and 3 OLs. There are multiple future starters and a couple of potential game-changers among that D-Line group.

As a group this recruiting class includes 8 recruits who have played for their provincial teams – 5 for Team Ontario, 2 with Team Quebec and 1 on Team Alberta. Four of those players also played for Team Canada in the International Bowl. Five members of the recruiting class have been ranked among the Top 100 high school prospects or Top 60 post-HS prospects [CEGEP, JuCo or prep school post-grads].

Both local recruits – Tavius Robinson and Brandon Ferigo – were D10 award winners in addition to being multi-year D10 All Stars.

Positional Breakdown

The commitments to date by position:

OL – 3 [Roy, Lapointe, Adams]
QB – 1 [Martin]
RB – 1 [Morris]
WR/TE – 3 [Tocher, Johns, Charpentier*]

DL – 5 [Robinson, Proner, Wilson, K-Lamoureux, Woodmansey]
LB – 2 [Thompson, Ferigo]
DB – 0
P/K – 0

Without having any inside information on the topic, I think it is a good bet that this recruiting class will be smaller than last year’s class of 50 or 51. Something in the range of 38-42 would make sense to me since the Gryphons roster seems to hover just over 100 and the typical OUA roster averages 40% turnover from one year to the next.

What would be the composition of that class? Just my opinion but I think this class still needs several more OLs, another QB, 2 or 3 more at RBs and several more WR/TEs on offense. On the defensive side, I would like to see one or two more DLs, several LBs, a half dozen DBs, and at least 2 Punter/Kickers.

* I am projecting Phillip Charpentier [CNDF Quebec City] as a TE rather than a QB based on what I’ve read on Quebec recruiting boards. I think the former Team Quebec QB would be given the opportunity to compete as a quarterback if he wants to but observers of CEGEP football seem to think his switch to TE midway through the 2017 season will be permanent.

Areas of Need

I think heading into this recruiting season there were several areas of particular need. You only had to look at the roster to see where this team was going to lose key, veteran  players. The running back position, the defensive backfield and the linebacking corps each lose multiple, long-term starters or major contributors.

I think running back is particularly critical with Johnny Augustine and Brandon Gordon graduating. I think this class needs to include at least 3 or 4 RB recruits. Hopefully with one or more of them capable of contributing immediately. Richard Morris of London South is the only RB signed to date.

The defensive backfield likely loses three starters, possibly four. On top of that there is always some other attrition . I hope that there are some players already there to step up and fill those starting roles but a half dozen quality recruits at minimum are necessary. A couple of them need to be able to push for dress roster positions to make that DB group competitive. No defensive backs have been signed yet.

The linebacking corps will lose 2 of 3 starters, and that is assuming that Luke Korol returns for a 5th year. We’ve had some solid LB recruits over the past few years – Jafs, Onyeka, Beeksma come to mind. But even if those players fill the openings in the starting lineup you need players to replace them on special teams, and others to populate the scout team. At this point two linebackers have been signed – D10 Defensive Player of the Year Brandon Ferigo and London South’s Tyler Thompson.

I almost didn’t mention what might be the most important recruiting need of all – a Punter/Kicker. I fully expect Gabriel Ferraro to be picked in the 2018 CFL draft. I think he has a good chance of making a CFL roster as a kicker. He is better than several FG kickers already in the league. Our P/K recruit last year quit the team before school started. It would be a huge risk to head into the 2018 season with only one freshman P/K on the roster.

In summary, as good as this class looks at this point, there are still some critical needs to be met IMO. I will be keeping my eye on the RB, DB, LB and P/K positions.

Quick Thoughts

I think the strength of this class to date bodes well for the quality of the final product. Blue chip recruits want to play with other blue chip recruits. And to a large extent blue chip recruits head to programs where they know they have a chance to win championships.

So, in spite of 3-5 and 5-3 seasons, I think Guelph is headed to an elite recruiting class that will help put them back in the Yates Cup year after year. With a few more key pieces in this recruiting class the Gryphons will position themselves among the nation’s elite programs. It is still early

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

xmas image.jpg

Check out this video from Gryphon Football …

 

And, a message from alumnus Dan Cornwell’s cat Oreo …

 

Just so I don’t have any cat-hating dog lovers chirping me, lol …

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Gryphon Cheerleading wins at PCAs

Congrats to Gryphon Cheerleading on their recent accomplishments!

That included first and second place finishes in the two categories that they entered in  the 2017 PCA Collegiate National Championships in Brampton.

PCACNNationalsCrestGOLDonWhite

From Gryphons.ca …

On November 25th, the University of Guelph Co-Ed and All-Girl Cheerleading teams competed at the PCA Collegiate National Championships. With a combined over 70 athletes, each team performed a 2.5 minute routine consisting of stunting, tumbling, pyramid, and dance components. Representing University of Guelph, the Co-ed team are National Champions winning first in their division out of four university teams and All-Girl placed second in their division out of 10 university teams. This competition was the first out of 3 competitions the teams will participate in for the 2017/2018 season. The full routines can be viewed on YouTube
Their next competition is in Guelph at the Sleeman Centre on Sunday January 28, 2018.
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You can watch their winning routines via Youtube …
Small Co-ed squad

All-Girl team

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2018 Recruiting update – Dec 14/17

I haven’t written much about Guelph’s 2018 recruiting class to date.

In fact, my post two days ago on a top Quebec DL recruit committing to Guelph is my first story on a recruiting commitment this year. Don’t assume that yesterday’s story means that that “news” was the first or most important recruiting happening of this cycle.

The fact is, by my count, there are already 13 committed recruits in the 2018 recruiting class. You can find all of those names & their essential biographical details on this blog’s 2018 Recruiting page. I believe I also shared all of those announcements on my Twitter account.

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A few quick thoughts …

♦ This is going to be a very, very good recruiting class. Perhaps the best in years for the Gryphons.

♦ More than half of the recruits come from just 3 schools – London South, Champlain Lennoxville and Guelph CVI. There are still several more top prospects at London South and Champlain Lennoxville that could join this recruiting class.

♦ Perhaps the most surprising announcement was the news that Carter Wilson was transferring to Guelph from the NCAA FCS program at the University of North Dakota. I remember seeing Wilson at Guelph’s Elite Big Man Camp back in March 2015. I really hoped he would be a part of the 2016 recruiting class. But, rather than return for a high school victory lap, Wilson accepted a full-ride scholarship to UND when it was offered.

Wilson redshirted his first season with the Fighting Hawks, then played in every game in 2016 recording 12 tackles, 4 TFLs and 1 sack. He continued to play regularly in 2017, even scoring a defensive touchdown on a 52-yard fumble return against Portland State.

As a Canadian returning from the NCAA Wilson is eligible to play immediately

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Other recent news …

You will want to read this Guelph Tribune story – New Guelph Gryphon following in his father’s footsteps – in it’s entirety, but here is the intro …

Dan Tocher was quite a receiver when he played for the University of Guelph football Gryphons.

Recently, what he received was some exciting news — that his son, Jack,  has signed with the Gryphons football team and that Jack will be following in his footsteps.

“It’s a great feeling, just to come home, back to Guelph and sign with the team that my dad played for,” says the younger Tocher.

Dad Dan, a Guelph native and Centennial CVI graduate, is a member of the Gryphon Sports Hall of Fame. He was a star receiver for the Gryphons from 1986-1990 — he was an All-Canadian in 1989  — and he currently sits second overall in Gryphon football career receiving yards.

Tocher family.jpg

Dan Tocher, centre, with his football-playing sons Jack, left, and DJ. Jack recently signed with the Guelph Gryphons.

Tocher isn’t the only legacy recruit in the 2018 recruiting class. GCVI defensive end Tavius Robinson is the son of Guelph alumnus Patrick Robinson. Older football fans will also remember his uncle, a Gryphon great and long-time CFLer, Junior Robinson.

The 6’8″ 220-pound Robinson played both defensive end and offensive tackle in high school. He won back-to-back D10 championships with the GCVI Green Gaels. Robinson was the D10 Lineman of the Year in 2016 and 2017, and 3-time D10 All Star.

Robinson family.jpg

Tavius Robinson with his family at the Football Pavillion

Check out running back recruit Richard Morris‘ recently released 2017 highlights. Tell me if you don’t see some similarities between Morris and Johnny Augustine, besides the #27 they both wear. I see some things that remind me of Brandon Gordon too. At 5’10” and 195 pounds the London South product is little bit bigger than Augustine was coming out of high school.

2017 highlights on HUDL

Richard Morris

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Top Quebec DL commits to Guelph

I’m sure it has never happened before but, believe it or not, daily newspapers in Montreal and Quebec City have stories today on the latest Guelph recruiting news.

JDQ headline

The event that sparked the stories? The commitment of one of Quebec’s most sought after defensive line prospects, Jeremy Kapelanski-Lamoureux of College de Champlain Lennoxville.

The 6’2″ 240-pound Kapelanski-Lamoureux is a versatile player, capable of playing both DE and 3-tech DT. That makes him an excellent fit at Guelph where the defense utilizes multiple fronts, often alternating between 3 and 4 defensive linemen. He could play DE or DT in a 4-man front or DE in a 3-man front.

Kapelanski-Lamoureux is a former Team Quebec player who also represented Canada twice in the 2015 & 2016 International Bowls. He is ranked as the #31 prospect in CFC’s Top 60 list of post-HS players [CEGEP, JuCo & post-grad Prep School players].

In the Journal de Quebec article Kapelanski-Lamoureux is quoted as saying his “ultimate choice was between Guelph and Laval … between the Gryphons and the Rouge et Or. ” That is significant in my opinion. Guelph has been a finalist with Laval for an elite recruit on a couple of previous occasions but this is the first time they have come out on the positive side of the final decision.

The Champlain Lennoxville name may sound familiar to Gryphon fans. That’s because there are already three former C-L Cougar players on our roster – Alain Cimankinda, Zeph Fraser & AJ Chase – and it is the former team of Gryphon offensive coordinator J-F Joncas. The first recruit to commit to Guelph in this recruiting cycle, Uriel Kalenga, is also from Champlain Lennoxville.

The Champlain Lennoxville Cougars are the 2017 Bol D’Or Champions of Quebec’s Division 1 CEGEP league.

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Some overdue congratulations – Dec 5/17

Congratulations to the Toronto Argonauts on their Grey Cup victory, and to the former Gryphons who were a part of it!

I watched most of the game. It was a close game but not particularly dramatic until a late game fumble by Calgary receiver Kamar Jorden …

The play happened with under six minutes left in the game. Calgary was ahead 24-16 and threatening to score a touchdown that would have sealed the victory.

Playing in a steady snowfall, the Stampeders had a first down on the Toronto seven-yard line. Jorden caught a pass in the flat but as he turned toward the end zone Argo safety Jermaine Gabriel stripped the ball. Halfback Cassius Vaughn scooped it up at the one and returned it all the way for a touchdown. The 109-yard ramble set a Grey Cup record.

The Argos were good on a two-point convert which tied the score 24-24.

Toronto would take the lead 27-24 on a 32-yard field goal with 53 seconds left.

With the most players of any OUA school involved in the game, some Gryphon alumni were going to be celebrating …

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Congratulations to the Western Mustangs on their impressive Vanier Cup win!

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Congratulations to Zack Silverthorne on his coaching championship win!

Silverthorne is in his first season as the head coach at Grimsby Secondary School after many years at South Lincoln HS. He led the Eagles to their first gridiron championship in decades.

Silverthorne w Yates

Zack Silverthorne (left) poses with 1996 teammates Bill Brown & John Casasanta at a FoGF regional reception in 2016

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Congratulations to committed recruit Uriel Kalenga on his team’s Bol D’Or championship win in CEGEP Division 1!

UK w Bol D'Or

Further congratulations to UK on his rising prospect ranking according to CFC. In the most recent edition of their Top 60 post-high school prospects [CEGEP, JUCO and post-grad Prep School athletes] Canada Football Chat has Kalenga ranked #54.

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Congratulations to Gryphon freshmen Andy McFalls and Sandor Mod, and to incoming recruit Noah Johns, on being among the first 37 players named to Football Canada’s U19 National Junior team. They will play Team USA in the 2018 International Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Dallas Texas.

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And, just today … Congratulations to Guelph’s 2016-2017 Academic All Canadians – Daniel Urbshas, Corey Flude, Justis Croasdale, Derek Droulliard and Orion Edwards.

 

 

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CFL blog with a story on former Gryphon

Drew Edwards has a story on former Gryphon P/K Rob Maver on 3-Down NationCalgary punter Rob Maver was a CFL fan first, player later.

Rob Maver was a husky high school kid with an unfortunate hairstyle when he travelled from his home in Brampton to the Toronto Argonauts practice facility on a mission to meet his idol.

Maver is currently the punter for the Calgary Stampeders and so it’s hardly a surprise that instead of a quarterback or a receiver – players normal kids emulate – his hero was Argo kicker Noel Prefontaine.

“I was 18 years old with frosted tips and I probably weighed 25 pounds more than I do now because high school Rob loved beer and pizza,” Maver said this week as his Stampeders get set to face the Argos in Sunday’s Grey Cup. “I watched him kick during practice then he signed my jersey afterward. I was too star struck to talk to him much.”

Prefontaine played 16 CFL seasons, mostly for the Argos, and was still around when Maver entered the league as a Stampeder draft pick in 2010. They were on opposing teams in the 2012 Grey Cup, when Prefontaine won the second of his two championships at the expense of Maver’s Calgary team.

Even his Grey Cup win, two years later against the Hamilton, comes with a foggy asterisk. Just a few minutes into the third quarter of that game, Maver was levelled by Ticat defensive end Justin Hickman while trying to make a tackle. It left him with a concussion and only fragments of the eventual celebration.

“I remember hugging teammates after the game but my fiancée was at the game and I don’t remember seeing her,” Maver said. “My favourite memory is being at a post-game celebration with back up quarterback Drew Tate and he was still decked out in his equipment – he refused to take off his gear all night.”

This is Maver’s fourth Grey Cup appearance – the Stamps also lost last season – and he says he’s learned to cope with the inevitable challenges of the week, which wreak havoc on the usual routine.

“You know when to get food, when to warm up, you’re cognizant of the different schedule on game day – you’re in the dressing room a lot longer before the game. Your mindful of all the things that can throw you for a loop,” he said. “My first Grey Cup, I was just so happy to be there. I was caught off guard by some things, how broken up the schedule was.”

Maver acknowledges that he and many of his teammates are using last year’s loss as fuel for Sunday’s game. The Stamps fell behind by 20 points, rallied to tie the game with just seconds left – they had a chance to win it late – only to fall in overtime.

“Anybody who says differently is lying to you: losing a championship is one of the worst feelings,” Maver said. “To say that a lot of guys are using it as motivation is definitely fair.”
Despite his Brampton roots, Maver is now a full-time Calgary resident. He and his fiancée Libby – a Hamilton native – have come to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle the nearby Rocky mountains provide. And they’ve got big plans.

“This year could be an incredible year. I proposed to my fiancée in May, I’ve got a chance to win a Grey Cup, then I’m getting married in the spring,” Maver said. “That could be a pretty great combination.”

The chunky 18-year-old kid with the frosted tips would undoubtedly be impressed by what his adult self has managed to accomplish.

“I grew up as a long-time fan of this league, watching Doug Flutie, watching Jeff Garcia, reading about Warren Moon,” Maver said. “Now that I’ve played in the league for so long, I really relish every moment because of how much I loved it when I was younger.”

It is a shame that the story doesn’t have a picture of high school Rob. The best I could do was sophomore Rob.

Sophomore Maver.jpg

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Semi-Final Preview: Guelph @ Western

Taylor hurdle attempt

Western RB Alex Taylor makes the mistake of trying to hurdle Gryphon DB Mikey Carney

I remember being happy back in 2008 and 2009 that the Gryphons were in an OUA Quarter-final game. This year that was a disappointment. Only now that the Gryphons have advanced to the semi-final does it really feel like the playoffs to me.

Maybe that is partly because I totally expected Guelph to win last week. I still expect Guelph to win this week but you have to feel a lot more apprehensive about it. After all, Western is 8-0 and the #2-ranked team in the country.

Talking about expectations, Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall said in his post-game comments after the Labour Day game that he expected to play the Gryphons again in the playoffs. And here we are …

Game Previews & Related Links

Gryphon.ca: PREVIEW: Gryphons vs Mustangs in OUA Semi-Final

“It’s win or go home,” Guelph head coach Kevin MacNeill says.

High stakes, for sure, but for the streaking Gryphons, there is plenty of incentive to manufacture a playoff upset on the very field where they lifted the 2015 Yates Cup. The team has won six of the past seven games, including last week’s one-sided 30-8 Quarter-final road win against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. The Gryphons have shown they can play with anyone.

WesternMustangs.ca has an article and video interviews – Mustangs set for OUA Semifinal showdown with Gryphons

The Mustangs and Gryphons have played tightly contested games over the last few years, including the postseason; Guelph bested the Mustangs in the 108th Yates Cup and are the last team to defeat Western in a semifinal, having done it in 2014. The match between these two teams in the regular season went to overtime and saw the Mustangs come out with a 41-34 victory …  Although it was a high scoring contest, it was also the smallest margin of victory the Mustangs have had all season …

From the OUA.ca website, Mike Hogan’s OUA In The Huddle – Week 10 column …

A handful of years ago, In The Huddle had a discussion with Guelph head coach Stu Lang. The Gryphons were preparing for a playoff game where they were a decided underdog.

Lang is a man of faith. When asked if he used any religious parables with his team, perhaps the story of David and Goliath, the coach responded with a classic line.

He said he had, comparing his team to the young man who felled a giant with a slingshot before adding, “This year we’re bringing the stones.”

Fast forward to the present, where Kevin MacNeill finds himself preparing for a game in which his Gryphs are underdogs …

USports.ca website: Weekend Watch: Conference Semifinals

No. 8 Guelph (6-3) at No. 2 Western (8-0)

The skinny: Western was the only undefeated team in the country during the regular season and has now qualified for the playoffs every year since 1984… Guelph, which opened the 2017 post-season last Saturday with a 30-8 quarter-final win at Ottawa, is making its sixth straight playoff appearance… The Mustangs have won 10 of 16 previous playoff confrontations but the Gryphons have taken the last two in 2015 (23-17 Yates Cup win at London) and 2014 (51-26 semifinal win at Guelph)… Guelph was Western’s toughest opponent in the 2017 regular season

And here is an outside perspective on the game, from a new blog that covers OUA and USport football, with a focus on offensive line play – Western Vs Guelph: OUA Semi’s.

What really stood out to me was when Guelph needed to run the ball on running downs, the UoG OL took over the game. Augustine had one of those days where his duties running the ball ended by the middle of the 2nd quarter.

… I really like how Guelph has started to incorporate a power running game, and they were efficient using an H-back (or Dlineman). While this is something that bothers me as an offensive line evaluator, it is something that Guelph’s OC is trying to accomplish …

… A key note I have about the Ottawa game is the use of Landers at QB. He only ran the ball when he got his select snaps. Of these snaps, all they ran were Quarterback power running plays, or a QB counter/power read. In essence Landers pulled, or kept the ball every time.

western-mustangs-vs-guelph

My Thoughts on the Game

I don’t think the Gryphons are as big underdogs as many people suggest.

The veterans on this team have already beaten Western three times in their careers. They were probably underdogs in all those games. I don’t think the Gryphons will be the least bit intimidated.

I don’t doubt that the defense will be ready to play and give the team a chance to win. I’m optimistic that the offense will produce. And, if there was any doubt, they proved in Week 2 they could play with the Mustangs.

James Roberts had one of his best games ever in that Week 2 match-up. In fact, he was having an excellent season prior to his injury in the Homecoming game. He was good last week and I think he will kick that up a notch in his second game back. I don’t think there is as much pressure on Roberts now that the Gryphons have a running game that really was non-existent in Week 2.

The Gryphons have dealt with many challenges and come a long way since Labour Day. They have at is the result of personnel changes, the O-Line gelling and  I think they are in a good position to win.

* I have more to say (surprise!) but I’m headed out the door to the Tiger-Cats game in 10 minutes. Hopefully, I can add to this later tonight.

Recent Series History

Guelph has had competitive games with Western for the last decade but that changed in 2016 with a surprisingly one-sided game at Guelph’s Homecoming. But the fact this season’s game went to overtime suggests that result was an outlier. The past decade has included a 5-game losing streak from 2008 to 2011 and a 4-game winning streak from 2012 to 2015.  Western leads the all-time series 46-15-12.

There hasn’t been a Yates Cup since 2006 without one of these teams in it and that will be true again this year.

Flush the Mustangs

2017 – 41-34 OT Western
2016 – 50-16 Western
2015 – 23-17  Guelph [Yates Cup]
2014 – 51-26  Guelph [Semi-final]
2014 – 49-46  Guelph
2013 – did not play
2012 – 42-39  Guelph
2011 –  33-29  Western
2010 –  15-8  Western
2009 –  41-39  Western
2008 –  47-16  Western
2007 –  31-17  Guelph

Broadcast Options

TV:  Live on Rogers Cable 20 (Waterloo Region, Guelph, Brantford & Stratford) & Rogers Cable 13 (London)

Radio: Newstalk 1290 CJBK, including pre- & post-game coverage

Online: www.oua.tv

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