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Gaels travel to London to avenge Yates Cup loss to Western Mustangs – The Kingston Whig-Standard

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Sep 08, 2022  •  9 hours ago  •  3 minute read

Western Mustangs' Keon Edwards runs for a touchdown past Queen's Gaels' Josh McBain during the Ontario University Athletics football final at Richardson Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021.
Western Mustangs’ Keon Edwards runs for a touchdown past Queen’s Gaels’ Josh McBain during the Ontario University Athletics football final at Richardson Stadium on Nov. 20, 2021. Photo by Ian MacAlpine /The Whig-Standard

The Queen’s Gaels, sporting a 2-0 won-lost record in Ontario University Athletics football action in 2022 and ranked fifth in the country, will be taking on the top-ranked and defending national champion Western Mustangs in London on Saturday night.

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Game time is 7 p.m.

Both teams are undefeated in the young OUA season, with Queen’s defeating the Toronto Blues 47-25 on Aug. 27 and the Ottawa Gee-Gees 26-16 last Saturday evening in Ottawa. Western defeated the Guelph Gryphons 34-11 in Week 1 and the Laurier Golden Hawks 34-19 last Saturday.

It is also a rematch of the 2021 Yates Cup OUA championship in Kingston, in which the Mustangs galloped over the Gaels, 29-0 ,at Richardson Stadium on Nov. 20.

“It’s a big road trip for us,” Gaels head coach Steve Snyder said Thursday in his weekly media availability. “Obviously a really quality opponent that’s playing really good football and it should be a really good game.”

Snyder said the team didn’t “burn the tape” from the Yates Cup to plan for Saturday night as many players from both teams who played in the game are on the 2022 rosters.

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“That most recent game against the opponent is really an important one, and in our case it’s only a few games ago, so there’s a lot to take from that,” he said.

Snyder, other Gaels coaches and players have also been watching Western’s last two playoff games of 2021, the national semifinal and the Vanier Cup, as well as its first two games of the 2022 season.

“Offensively they’re pretty intact. Pretty much that entire team is back, with the exception of one or two guys,” Snyder said.

Players to watch for Queen’s include running back Keon Edwards and quarterback Evan Hillock. At the Yates Cup, Edwards ran for three touchdowns and gained 158 yards on the ground. Hillock was 14-for-20 passing for 193 yards.

“Defensively a lot of players are back, but their defensive line has a lot of new faces,” Snyder said.

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The third-year Queen’s coach said it’s not an extra motivating factor for the Gaels to defeat Western after he spent two seasons as the Mustangs offensive co-ordinator before coming to Kingston.

“That’s something that was a story line a couple of years ago, but I’m so far removed now it’s pretty much irrelevant now,” he said.

Queen’s will have London native running back Jaden Blackman back in the lineup on Saturday night. The rookie running back missed the Ottawa game with a minor injury, Snyder said.

In Queen’s first game of the season, Blackman ran for 134 yards and ran back a 115-yard Blues missed field goal attempt for a touchdown in a 47-25 win.

Gaels quarterback James Keenan will also have the option to hand the ball off to Anthony Soles, who ran for 96 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.

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“It’s a deep position for us now at running back. We have a number of guys that we feel really good about. If one guy’s body is holding him back a little bit and if he’s not 100 per cent, we’re comfortable playing someone else,” Snyder said.

“(Western is) clearly sitting in the driver’s seat, not only in the OUA but across the country, but we have a really good football team. Now we have to rise to the occasion and go give them all we got for four quarters.

“I think the guys are excited about finishing up the week strong and continue to execute what I think is a strong game plan.”


Last Saturday evening, the Gaels and Gee-Gees had to take a 90-minute break at TD Place Stadium on Saturday night with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter due to heavy rain during a thunder storm.

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Snyder said the players used the break wisely.

“We met with the players a little bit, got the snacks going for the guys so they were able to fuel up, and got some stretching stuff out for the guys,” he said.

Players also rode stationary bicycles and did some exercises to keep warm and loose.

“We gave the players a little bit of time to take their pads off and they didn’t have to do too much for the next half-hour other than to get up  every few minutes to stay active,” Snyder said.

“Towards the end, we brought them back together and got ourselves going again with the adjustments and treated it like a half-time (break) again.”

imacalpine@postmedia.com

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Queen’s Gaels football head coach Steve Snyder talked on Thursday about the team’s upcoming game against the Western Mustangs on Saturday.
Queen’s Gaels football head coach Steve Snyder talked on Thursday about the team’s upcoming game against the Western Mustangs on Saturday. Photo by Ian MacAlpine /Ian MacAlpine/The Whig-Standard/Postmedia Network