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Photo: Marta Kierkus.

Wendel and offence shine, defence shows vast improvement in season opener

Coming fresh from a bye in the first week of the season, the Gee-Gees football team traveled to Waterloo and laid a beating on the Warriors.

The Warriors haven’t won a game since October 2014 and an already frustrating start to the year got more difficult for them as the Gees unleashed an offensive assault in the 65-1 win.

Fifth-year quarterback Derek Wendel was at the top of his game in the Labour Day matchup, slinging 389 yards and five touchdowns before resting for the majority of the second half.

The Belleville, Ont. native has been nothing short of impeccable for the team since taking over the starting job in 2014. Last year, he established himself as a top QB in nation and is already continuing his dominance this season.

Wendel’s execution looks as good as it has ever been in passing, as well as tucking the ball and using his legs to get first downs.

A mixture of new and old in the receiving core has resulted in a more athletic bunch with better size and ability to reel in deep passes.

Fifth-year Mitchell Baines impressed with some outstanding catches and is likely the Gee-Gees’ best bet to replace production from graduated WR Ian Stewart. Baines had six catches for 139 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Second-year receiver Luke Ffrench also impressed with 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On the ground, the Gee-Gees had a collective 196 yards, which shows improvement from last year, where the offence was more one dimensional. The team will need to integrate their running backs better throughout the year in order to fully round out their potent offensive attack.

Defensively, the team only forfeited 213 yards of total offence to the Warriors, whose only point came from a missed field goal rouge.

The new-look defensive unit still struggled slightly against the opposing team’s running attack, however, they made up for their shortcomings with three interceptions and two sacks.

Linebackers Khadim Mbaye and a healthy Jackson Bennett anchored the Gee-Gee defence, while second-year cornerback Jamie Harry impressed in the secondary.

The win was exactly what the Gee-Gees needed to open the season, in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) preseason polls, the Gees were ranked as high as fifth and as low as seventh out of 11 teams.

With two substantial upsets in the conference in week two, the Garnet and Grey have the opportunity to claw their way closer to the top of the OUA ranks, particularly if they have a good showing against rival McMaster next weekend in their home opener.

The team will have to build on their solid win this week in practice ahead of a difficult test on Saturday. Luckily for the team, the last Gee-Gees loss during a home opener was four years ago during the 2012 season. That loss was the hands of the Marauders, who have been a thorn in the side of the Gee-Gees for a number of years— a trend they will hope to reverse later this week.

Kickoff at Gee-Gees Field is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sept. 10, tickets are available at tickets.geegees.ca.