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Gee-Gees football is seeking hardware on deep playoff run

Photo courtesy of Eliza Mitton, University of Windsor. 

As fall approaches, the same feeling of anticipation strikes sports fans across North America—football season is upon us once again.

Last season was a success for the Gee-Gees football team, and a step towards once again hoisting the Vanier Cup as Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) champions.

A resilient fight in the Yates Cup semi-finals against eventual national runner-up McMaster proved the Gees’ place as one of the more dominant teams in the nation. They bounced in and out of the national Top 10 rankings, with a highest appearance at seven, and a final rank at ten.

The Gees saw breakout performances from quarterback Derek Wendel, freshman running back Bryce Vieira, and defensive back Jackson Bennett. These players will all play key roles for the 2015 Gee-Gees, and a great deal of the team’s success will bank on their performances.

Unlike many of their opponents, the Gee-Gees have an exceptional balance of youth and experience. On the offensive side of the ball, the Gees return nine of twelve starters—all three coming from the O-Line, a place where the team has great depth. All of Wendel’s weapons return this season, including fifth-year senior receiver, Ian Stewart who reeled in four touchdowns last year.

Defensively, the unit also returns nine starters. Losing All-Canadian lineman Ettore Lattanzio to the CFL, and defensive back Randy Williams will hurt, but ultimately the team retains more talent then they lose. The linebacker core is easily one of the top three in the nation, with stars Nick Lecour returning for a fifth-year, along with younger studs Tanner Care, and Marc-Antoine Laurin.

The Gee-Gees also pulled in multiple massive recruits from the United States in defensive lineman Charles Bender, receiver Davion Johnson, and cornerback Deon Price all from Austin, Texas. Bender and Johnson will be eligible to play this season while Price is required to sit one year after a stint at Missouri Southern State University last fall. Along with this fresh talent, head coach Jamie Barresi brought in linebacker Ryan Lipomi of Pinehurst, North Carolina.

A tough draw in scheduling will be difficult for the team as they get a first week bye and will play all of the top teams in the province, but along with this comes a stronger opportunity to prove their worth. The Ontario University Athletics preseason rankings have put the Gee-Gees fourth in the conference behind Western, Guelph, and McMaster. There’s plenty of room for the Gees to succeed and make a deep run in the playoffs, and even take a crack at the national championship.

The team sits in an interesting position where it has room to become one of the strongest in the country with everything seeming to click at once. Despite the 15 years that have passed since the last Vanier Cup, the Gees are optimistic that they can make history once again.

The Gee-Gees will host rival Queen’s Gaels in their home opener, with the Gaels coming off of a hard fought 34-24 win over Carleton where they dealt with multiple injury issues. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. on Sept. 6 at Gee-Gees Field.