·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   · 

Volume 91, Issue 14

Friday, September 19, 1997



Blues want to spoil purple party

©Geoff Robins/Gazette
THE AIR UP THERE, MY HANDS DOWN HERE. Western receiver Ryan Hazzard may be the recipient of many passes if the Mustangs go the air tomorrow versus Toronto.

By John Intini

Gazette Staff

For Mustang head coach Larry Haylor, the key to winning this weekend's game against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues is adjusting to a new defensive scheme and keeping focused on the game at hand.

"Toronto has played it tough against us in the past and there is no way we are taking this game for granted," Haylor said. "It is best to keep all the focus on one game at a time. So far this season we are doing just that and it's working."

As the team prepares to go into its third week of the Ontario University Athletics football season, Haylor feels the Blues, who have lost their first two games of the season, will probably be the toughest competition the undefeated Mustangs will have seen thus far.

Both Toronto losses were against nationally-ranked teams – Guelph (no.9) and York (no.10). Meanwhile, Western's two victories have come over Windsor and Laurier, clearly two lesser opponents.

The Blues defence has been solid so far this season, allowing only two touchdowns and will play a much different game than the Mustangs have been used to facing.

"U of T has a much more traditional style, similar to ours," Haylor said. "In order to win this game, we will definitely have to pass the football more."

Blues head coach Bob Laycoe is quite confident his team could play the spoiler in Western's run for an undefeated season.

"We have played two games in which the final scores have not been indicative of how well we've played," Laycoe said. "Both games have been close and if not for a few bad breaks, we could be at the top of the division as well."

If the Mustangs are forced to go to a more pass-oriented offence, it will be less likely that last week's OUA offensive player of the week, running back Craig Higgins, who scored four touchdowns versus Laurier, will be able to repeat his performance.

The new style, however, will put more onus on quarterback Oliver Curri who had a lacklustre performance in last week's home opener, completing only 11 of 20 passes. Haylor is, however, confident that his number-one passer will come through.

"He has played really well under some early-season pressure," Haylor said. "Oliver is really molding himself into a quality OUA quarterback and with a solid backup in Michael O'Brien, we have a very strong quarterbacking team."

The game also marks the return of Derek Krete, the Mustang linebacker who sat out the first two games of the schedule with a groin injury. There is no doubt he will have a positive influence as an on-field leader of a defence that has played solid football even without him.

Krete's return couldn't have come at a better time, with the tougher segment of the Mustangs' schedule on the close horizon.

"Derek is back but is not 100 per cent game-fit," Haylor said. "Both Krete and fullback Jason McKibbin are returning for this game, but we will have to use them sparingly to prevent any re-aggravation of their injuries."

Haylor maintains being ranked third nationally means very little to both him and the team, stating that he rarely gets hung up on them.

"All the high rankings do is motivate other teams," said Haylor. "We have ranged from first to 10th place and often have been just as good at 10 as we were when rated first. The team chemistry is great and that is all that's important."

Game time is tomorrow at J.W. Little Stadium.

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

Copyright © The Gazette 1997