photo by Jackson Lewchuck

High turnovers may

equal high success

Varsity football is a game of turnovers, both on the field and on the roster. Following a solid 2010 season in which the Garnet and Grey (7-1) played host to the Yates Cup, this season’s edition of the men’s football team is looking a little raw with a large rookie class and a new starting quarterback. Nonetheless, the Gees are eager to build on past success.

Last season’s heartbreaking loss to the Western Mustangs by a single point in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) finals put an end to the team’s hopes of competing for a national title, and for some key players, it also marked the end of an era with the Gee-Gees.

With the departures of OUA All-Star receivers Matt Buldouc and Cryil Adjeitey and cornerback Chayce Elliot, as well as the loss of the 2010 Hec Crighton award winner and OUA MVP quarterback Brad Sinopoli to the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders, the team will be playing with a lot of new talent. There are a lot of question marks penciled to be in to the opening day roster as the season kicks off on Sept. 5 at the University of Guelph.

This turnover suits assistant coach and special teams coordinator Luigi Costanzo just fine.

“This year’s team makeup will consist of a strong veteran presence with a solid blend of talented and enthusiastic first-year players,” explained Costanzo.

“It’s difficult to specify changes at this point as the team will need to reload in many positions, but this will all depend on [the] player performances at training camp. It will be an extremely competitive camp that will bring out the best in our players.”

Costanzo hopes that his returning veteran players, including OUA All-Star receiver Steven Hughes and linebacker Taylor Sawyer, will provide strong leadership for the 60 rookies participating in the training camp, which is set to end the last week of August.

The boisterous home crowd at Frank Clair Stadium will see a different style of football from the Gee-Gees this season. With a new starting quarterback, the Garnet and Grey’s offence will have a new look, featuring a more balanced run-pass approach. Of the five talented hopefuls competing for the starting pivot, Aaron Colbon, a fourth-year psychology and leisure studies student, is the favourite to take over the reins.

“Aaron Colbon has the inside track on the job as he is going into his fourth year as a Gee-Gee. It will be Aaron’s [position] to lose, but it will be interesting to see how the new quarterbacks pick up the system and compete for the spot.”

An area of strength for the Gee-Gees will be the special teams, led by returning kicker Matt Falvo. Falvo was 18-21 on field goals last season with a record of 2,133 yards and 86 points, earning him a first team All-Star selection.

“[Falvo] will prove to be instrumental in winning the field position battle,” said Costanzo.

Despite the player turnover, Costanzo feels the 2011 Gee-Gees will be a competitive team in the OUA, adding that their ultimate goal is to earn a spot in the playoffs and compete for the Vanier Cup.