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Volume 91, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 9, 1997

frosh 'n' tasty


Lancers jousted by Mustangs

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
The Lancers spent the afternoon doing favours for the Western offence, but Western stopped returning them to win 29-10.

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

WINDSOR – With knees knocking and teeth chattering, the Western Mustang football team was able to overcome its first game jitters, as the curtain rose on the 1997 season over the weekend. Without the benefit of any type of preseason warm-up, the Mustangs overcame a mediocre performance in the first half and soundly defeated the Windsor Lancers 29-10 at South Campus Stadium on Saturday.

High snaps, loose balls, bad penalties and misjudged punts plagued the team throughout the first two quarters, giving Windsor a 9-4 lead with only a few ticks remaining in the first half.

"We came out slow and made a lot of mistakes," Roger Dunbrack, a 1996 All-Canadian Western defensive lineman, said. "It took some time before we were able to turn up our intensity and find a more crisper play."

That sharper play began to show in the dying moments of the second quarter, as Western marched down the field and scored a touchdown on a one-yard pass from quarterback Oliver Curri to wide receiver Dan Disley with no time remaining.

It was that drive which established the pace for Western's offensive game and the wheels of the 'Stangs machine continued to roll over the Windsor defence in the second half with touchdowns by Ryan Hazzard and Mike Laszlo in the third quarter.

Luckily for the Mustangs, they could afford a few slip-ups because Windsor had not beaten Western in over two decades.

"We were hanging in tough for a while but we allowed that to get away from us," Windsor quarterback Art Sobieraj said. "They're a big strong team and I guess they just wore us down."

Curri, who started his first game at the quarterback position, looked hesitant early on, but managed to settle down and complete 15 of his 28 passes, including two touchdowns tosses.

The fact that the team had yet to face any other type of game competition since playing the Japanese All-Stars on May 6, left the team with questions about its true potential and how they would react in key situations.

Western's head coach Larry Haylor felt the lack of a preseason game was a definitive contributor to the nerves and lack of execution throughout the first half of play.

"We used to play a non-conference game before the start of the season to work out the jitters, learn how to better prepare ourselves and allow the freshmen to acquire more game knowledge," he said.

However due to time constraints and the need to get the most out of the money invested into CIAU football, the preseason was axed before last season and now teams must work out the kinks as they go.

"When you don't have an exhibition game anymore it's always nice to have that tune-up game," Western linebacker Derek Krete said.

With a lack of any exhibition games, both the coaches and the younger players will be looking to the veteran players to guide the team through the first few games.

On offence for instance, Curri will have a full arsenal of experienced and talented weapons to choose from with the likes of third-year running back Mike Laszlo, last year's OUAA touchdown leader and Ryan Hazzard, a fourth-year receiver and 1996 OUAA second team all-star.

On the flip side of the ball, Derek Krete, last year's CIAU President's Trophy winner as the top defensive player in the country, will anchor a hard-nosed defence with 1996 All-Canadians defensive end Roger Dunbrack and defensive back Todd McKay.

Western's home opener is on Saturday versus the Laurier Golden Hawks (0-1). Kickoff is at 2 p.m. at J.W. Little Stadium.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1997