The University of Ottawa’s football program will kick off its season against their Kingston foe, the Queen’s Gaels. Coming off a 2014 campaign that saw the team finish with a 5-3 in the regular season and lose in the OUA playoffs semi-finals, the team is now focused on taking it a step further. The Gee-Gees begin their quest for the Yates Cup this Sunday September 6 at 1p.m. at Gee-Gees Field, located at 200 Lees Avenue.
Tickets, including season tickets, are available on tickets.geegees.ca and single game tickets are $2 cheaper when purchased online at least two hours before the game.
“We’re coming in strong. With the momentum we had, we understand that we’re in a very good position to compete for a championship,” said fourth-year defensive lineman Rashid Timbilla.
While Queen’s won 34-24 against the Carleton Ravens on opening day, the Garnet and Grey had their bye week. The Gaels had a strong offensive showing against the Ravens. Quarterback Nate Hobbs threw for 338 yards including 137 to receiver Doug Corby who also caught two touchdowns. Jesse Andrews rushed 22 times for 177 yards and two scores.
For Timbilla and head coach Jamie Barresi, the bye gave the team a few more days of preparation before the season kicks off. “Bye weeks are there because it’s time to rest, have a look back. Coach Barresi utilized our bye week to address any issues we had as a team [after training camp] and we are going to use those adjustments against Queen’s,” said Timbilla.
"We’ll still do some work, the bye comes in a week where we don’t have school and we have to get some kids up to speed with certain things. I look forward to it,” adds Barresi.
Not playing the first week of the season was seen by some as a big hurdle, but the players are embracing the early break. Second year starting quarterback Derek Wendel sees it as an opportunity to recover from training camp. “It gives up a break at the start of the season to get all our guys back healthy from the Montreal game and from training camp. All those other teams went through those two-a-days, their bodies are tired and they don’t really get that rest. We’re going to be fresh heading into week one.”
Though the Gee-Gees have many players coming back on both sides of the ball, the team will be missing two of its defensive stars from last year as Ettore Lattanzio was drafted in the CFL and cornerback Jackson Bennett suffered a season ending shoulder injury in the pre-season tilt against the reigning Vanier Cup champions in Montréal. Replacing Lattanzio, the CIS lineman of the year won’t be an easy task, but is task Barresi is confidant it’ll be done. “We have a lot of things going for us. There is a pretty solid core of leadership going on defence so we will be pretty good.”
Despite the fact it’s just the first of many games, the team is anxious to get back on the field. “It’s always exiting. We’ve been training so hard this offseason and it’s just another game but there’s definitely that extra fire in the locker room,” shared Wendel. The team is also hoping the fans will show up in numbers. According to Timbilla, “The home opener is a lot of hype. The effect the fans have on players is immense. It’s just another game, but it’s something special.”
The game will be webcast in HD on OUA.tv.
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