Team’s disappointing finish not representative of solid season
After a solid 6–2 regular season, the Gee-Gees football team clashed with their most hated rival in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) quarterfinals on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The depleted and demoralized Garnet and Grey squad was unable to get any sort of momentum to swing their way in the game, resulting in a disappointing 45–9 loss.
The game hadn’t even kicked off yet before the bad blood between the teams boiled over, as sidelines emptied for a dust up at midfield. The skirmish led to the ejection of second-year Gees linebacker Ricardo Lubin.
Once the game finally got underway, it was all Ravens from the start as they jumped out to a 17–0 lead before the Gees had a chance to respond.
A lone field goal would be all the Gees could muster up in the first half, as their pass-heavy offence was plagued by wet conditions.
Early in the third quarter, things went from bad to worse for the Gees when star fifth-year quarterback Derek Wendel injured his throwing arm, dashing any real chances of a comeback.
Fourth-year backup QB Victor Twynstra entered the game and took a little time to settle in. Meanwhile Carleton’s defence was relentless, continuing to rake over the Gees’ offensive line.
Twynstra, who will be preparing to take over the starting job from graduated Wendel next season, looked very effective using his legs to extend plays. The veteran showed off his ability to scramble rushing for 62 yards on eight attempts.
His passing numbers were less effective against the invigorated Ravens, tossing for 60 yards on 6–15 attempts. Regardless of these shortcomings, he was still able to thread a nice pass to Luke Ffrench for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
While a slew of sloppy miscues and penalties plagued both teams, they specifically affected the Gees on either side of the ball and special teams throughout the game.
Injuries that held six Ottawa starters out of action, along with arguably the toughest schedule of any team in the conference, piled up to the point of a full breakdown in season’s close.
“This is two years in a row now the OUA has not given us an off-week,” said Gee-Gees head coach Jamie Barresi.
“This is like being in a heavyweight fight. You go through stuff like (injuries) and you don’t get a break during the season … Give the team we played a lot of credit … but the OUA needs to do something about this. It isn’t right.”
Scheduling doesn’t explicitly lead to a team’s success, but playing three teams off of a bye week and a run of nine consecutive weeks of football has given the Gee-Gees next to no time to get players the rest they need.
“There were a lot of things that were kinda creeping up on us,” said Barresi. “To get to where we are, I give our guys a lot of credit to go 6–2 and end up like this.”
Although a fantastic career for Wendel comes to an end, his possible successor was prepared for his number to be called and looks forward to the opportunities of a new year in 2017.
“I always prepare as a starter, making sure I’m always in and involved with the offence,” said Twynstra. “We have a good team coming back so we have to prepare, get better, and learn from our mistakes and we’ll be good for next year.”
The Gee-Gees have a young team that proved they can play with some of the best teams in the conference this year. Losing players like Wendel and receiver Mitch Baines will hurt, but just as most football teams do every year, they’ll figure it all out come late August.