The 2016 CIS football season is officially underway, and it was nothing short of entertaining. In the Ontario University Athletics conference, the Western Mustangs continued to be a force to be reckoned with as they defeated the Windsor Lancers 78-6, while Asher Hastings and the McMaster Marauders put on a clinic for the Carleton Ravens, beating them at home 40-10.
The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the Queen’s Gaels 37-18 with some stellar defensive plays, highlighted by a pick-six from Godfrey Onyeka, and the York Lions showed their offensive prowess against the Waterloo Warriors, beating them 57-13. The last matchup on Sunday featured the Guelph Gyphons and Toronto Varsity Blues, where the Gryphons secured the victory 41-22.
In pre-season action outside of Ontario, the Manitoba Bisons upset the defending champion UBC Thunderbirds 50-7 out in the Canada West University Athletics Association, while the Calgary Dinos defeated the Regina Rams 37-13.
2016 CIS Football Season Started With Big Games
Biggest Upset of the Week: Manitoba Bisons stun the UBC Thunderbirds.
The Manitoba Bisons travelled to Vancouver Island to play the defending Vanier Cup Champions in a preseason tilt last Friday. The Bisons creamed the Thunderbirds, beating them by 43 points.
The Bisons led 9-0 after the first quarter after their quarterback, Theo Deezar threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver, Jesse Walker near the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was a disaster for the Thunderbirds as they had four turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback, Michael O’Connor. O’Connor played only in the first half and completed 16-29 pass attempts for 132 yards.
On the other side, Deezar threw two more touchdowns — a 14-yard to receiver Shai Ross and 13-yard to running back Cam Fox. Bisons defensive back, Marcel Arruda-Welch rounded out the scoring with a pick six of his own, bringing the score to 34-0 by halftime. Deezar finished 12-19 pass attempts for 210 yards in the first half, with three touchdowns.
It took the last quarter for the Thunderbirds to finally get on the board as third string quarterback, Cole Meyer connected with receiver Marshall Cook for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 47-7. The Bisons defence was fantastic in the game as they had four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and four sacks. The Bisons kicker Ryan Jones had three field goals in the win. This stunning win could prove that the Manitoba Bisons have the potential to capture their second Hardy Cup in three years.
– Casey Dulson
Biggest Surprise – Carleton Ravens not putting up a fight against the McMaster Marauders.
Coming into the 2016 season, the Ravens were looking to build on their success from 2015 when they finished 5-3 and beat the Queen’s Gaels 35-6 in the first round of the OUA playoffs. They put up a good fight against the eventual Yates Cup Champions, Guelph Gryphons in the semi-finals, losing by a score of 33-21.
Many people in 2016 picked the Ravens to have another incredible year, one that might see them in the Yates Cup championship game. But if the Ravens were going to make the next step in 2016, they would need to have a statement win against one of the big teams.
In week one, they played the McMaster Marauders, and unfortunately, the Ravens came out flat in the game, losing 40-10. They had one touchdown in the game as receiver Kyle VanWynsberghe threw a 63-yard touchdown to receiver, Nathaniel Behar on a trick play. Ravens running back, Jahvari Bennett carried the ball 17 times for only 33 yards. Quarterback Jesse Mills completed 22-38 pass attempts for 346 yards and had two interceptions in the game. Mills was also sacked five times.
Meanwhile, McMaster quarterback, Hastings, did not miss a beat in the opening game of 2016 after setting the CIS season passing touchdown record last season, . He completed 19-28 pass attempts with four touchdown passes for 320 yards. His favourite target from last season, Dan Vandervoort was also incredible. He had four catches for 197 yards with two touchdowns in the win.
The road does not get any easier for the Ravens as they will play another OUA powerhouse, Western Mustangs on Sunday. The season is far from over, but the Ravens will need to beat Western on Sunday if they want to be taken seriously this year.
– Casey Dulson
Most Memorable Moment – York Lions offence explodes in convincing victory over Waterloo Warriors
If the York Lions wanted to make a statement in the first game of the season, they definitely made an impression. Led by starting quarterback Brett Hunchak, the Lions convincingly defeated the Waterloo Warriors 57-13 to open the 2016 campaign. Hunchak made 17-of-25 pass attempts for 346-yards and threw five touchdowns in the process, with two of them thrown to his brother, Colton Hunchak. His counterpart Lucas McConnell finished 17-of-40 for 283-yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
The Lions struck quickly and early, taking a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter with touchdowns from D’Saun Greenaway and Matt Krason. The Warriors got their first points on the board via a field goal from Caleb Girard, but the Lions took control again after Hunchak connected with his brother for a 77-yard pass to take a commanding 22-3 lead midway through the second quarter.
The Waterloo offence only cut the lead in half before the Lions took control again, adding 35 unanswered points to take the victory and claim their first win of the season. The Lions used four different passing targets and ran the ball into the endzone themselves and accumulated a total of 546 offensive yards while Waterloo accumulated 414 offensive yards in the game.
– Drew Yates