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Gees look primed to be Yates Cup contender after resounding win

Photo: Marta Kierkus

The Gee-Gees football team had a statement to make in their season and home opener on Sunday. That statement went something along the lines of “We’re good, and we’re serious,” with a 41-17 thrashing of the Queen’s Gaels.

With games against the biggest teams the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference has to offer on the horizon, the Gees needed to have a defining win to start the year.

As thousands of fans packed into Gee-Gees Field, the team prepared to live up to the hype after an entire offseason of work. The tunnel inflated and smoke machines billowed as Jay Z & Kanye West’s ominous “No Church in the Wild” blared, leading the Gees onto the field. It was only a matter of minutes until the team would impose their will on the Gaels.

After giving up an early field goal, the Gee-Gees set into a rhythm that Queen’s simply couldn’t match. Quarterback Derek Wendel set out to work picking apart the Gaels’ secondary, leading to the first Gee-Gees touchdown of the season, when Tristan Bailey front flipped into the endzone.

The Gee-Gees’ defence was impenetrable for the majority of the first quarter, forcing two fumbles and an interception while the offence piled on the points.

“I think our defence played well, I was very impressed with what they did,” said Gee-Gees head coach Ja mie Barresi. “Our kids were seeing things, I really preached that to our receiving core and our quarterback and I put a lot of trust into them.”

Wendel’s performance proved his place among the top quarterbacks in the nation. The fourth-year QB threw for 384 yards with three touchdowns, punching in a fourth on the ground.

“We still have a long way to go, they are not running the way I want them to run and our tempo needs to be much better,” said Barresi.

Queen’s woke up offensively scoring two touchdowns in the second half as Gee-Gees had multiple drives where they had to settle for field goals. One of the many bright spots for the Gees was their ability to be mentally tough in a long game and compose themselves.

Another high point was the play of second-year running back Bryce Vieira. The sophomore stud was electrifying with the ball in his hands, rushing for 110 yards paired with 93 yards receiving. The young star looks primed to have another big season and a long career in garnet and grey.

Vieira earned player of the game honours, but he won’t let it overshadow his team goals.

“At the end of the day there is one goal, you want to win the Vanier. At the end of the day (personal awards) are great and I appreciate this so much but I just want to win. I came here to win and I’m excited to keep going.”

The road to a Vanier Cup appearance will be difficult but it’s not far out of the picture, although the team will have to make adjustments as the season progresses to find themselves atop the nation.

The Gee-Gees look forward to a gauntlet of powerful teams, with the next challenge coming against Vanier Cup finalists, the McMaster Marauders.

“We have a tough schedule up ahead but this will set the tone,” said Vieira confidently.

The team will take to the road and look for revenge against a Marauders team that eliminated the Gee-Gees in last year’s semifinals. Kickoff in Hamilton is at 1 p.m. on Sept. 12, the game is live streamed at