When the Marauders walked into Alumni stadium in Guelph on Sept. 21, they were up against some major challenges, even before kickoff.
One of the setbacks was the absence of RB Jimmy Hill, and OL Matt Sewell, who were forced to watch from the sideline due to a neck and knee injury respectively. Another, more visible setback, was the awful weather conditions that consisted of heavy rain for the majority of the day. To top it off, a home crowd, which consisted of roughly 12,000 Guelph supporters, the majority of them wearing red, black and yellow, were behind the opposing Gryphon team in horrible homecoming conditions.
For assistant head coach Jon Behie, though, the crowd was not the issue.
“As much as it was homecoming and we like to try and win another team’s homecoming, it was just a regular season game at the end of it,” said Behie.
But this game was not just like any normal regular season game. Some might say that this game was a must-win for the Marauders, a team with a record of 2-2.
“It was a big regular season game that we obviously wanted to win,” added Behie.
For the road ahead, Behie remains optimistic, and feels as though the Marauders can still pull off some big wins later on in the season.
“You know it’s better to lose games in September than it is in late October – November, so we need to make sure that we’re in the right frame of mind to know that we can still finish 5-3 and get a home playoff game, and once you’re in the playoffs anything can happen.”
At this point, in order to get to where the coaches would like the team to be, the Marauders are going to have to play close to flawless football. In other words, they are going to have to play the way they did the last two years.
They cannot afford to be making costly mistakes, like what happened in the third quarter in the game against Guelph. The Marauders tossed up several key turnovers and interceptions to the Gryphons team, essentially handing the home team the victory.
Third quarter aside, the remaining three quarters of football for the Marauders showed shades of the recent Vanier Cup finalists.
“I think if we take out the third quarter, and some of our mental mistakes in the third quarter, we’d probably come out on top” said Behie.
“Obviously that’s with maroon-coloured lenses on and trying to look at the positives, but I thought we played a pretty good game and I was proud of the guys for coming back and having a chance to tie it up late.”
And what a comeback it was. With just minutes left in the game, the Marauders managed to chip away at the Gryphon lead, when Tyler Crapigna scored a whopping 43-yard field goal to make the score 24-16. With time running against them, the Marauders looked to tie the game with under a minute of play left.
With 17 seconds left in the game, Marshall Ferguson’s pass to Tyler Loveday resulted in a touchdown. 24-22 Gryphons.
The Marauders were looking to score a two-point conversion to push the game into over-time, but the pass was knocked down, and Guelph ended up coming out on the other end victorious with a 24-22 final.
All was not lost for the Maroon and Grey. There were a lot of positives that could be taken from it that the coaches were happy with
“We got a couple of huge stops on defense that forced them into punting, which gave us a chance, and if we could find a way to match that intensity throughout the course of the entire game, instead of just late in the fourth then I think we will be okay down the stretch run,” said Behie.
The defense did well in the fourth quarter, with multiple tackles to keep the Gryphons from scoring.
Behie was also sure to give a shout out to the offense, specifically the wide receivers, that have been doing an exceptional job thus far.
“Our receivers have played well all season, their catching everything, especially in the conditions that we had.”
As for the things that the team needs to work on, Behie could not have stressed consistency enough.
“Our core stuff is something that we’re planning on polishing up a little bit and that’s the stuff that we really need to get real good at… that consistency, that is championship football that we had the last couple years that we seem to be lacking now,” said Behie.
The championship calibre football team from the last two seasons is still here. It can still come out at any time; Behie knows that all it will take, is everybody to be on their A game, and playing to the best of their abilities
“When we’re at our highest, when we’re all on the same page and playing well, we’re very, very good,” Behie said.
The Marauders will look to be on that level soon, before the book is closed until next season.