Volume 92, Issue 44
Friday, November 20, 1998
Huskies give Mustangs chills
© Tom Baumgartner/Gazette
By Ian Ross
It will be a warm day in Saskatoon before the Western Mustang football team gives up on their dream of returning to the Vanier Cup.
After becoming Ontario University Athletics champions, Western needs only to capture tomorrow's Churchill Bowl to make that dream a reality. Their opponent will be the Saskatchewan Huskies on the frozen tundra of Griffith Stadium in Saskatoon.
The weather is forecasted as -14 C degrees with bitter winds to meet the Mustangs as they put in their final practice today before the Canadian West-Ontario match-up. Unfamiliar with the cold climate, the frigid weather has spurned extra homework for Western coaches, hoping to cancel out any weather advantage the Huskies can earn at home.
Head coach Larry Haylor explained he has made several calls out West, including calls to the Edmonton Eskimos, in an attempt to gain an idea of how to prepare his team with regards to equipment and warm-ups.
"We are going to have to play on a frozen field after the snow has been removed. And when they brush it off the field, the grass piles up on the sidelines with the snow. What's left is hard packed dirt," Haylor said.
The Mustangs will combat the rock hard tundra with new cleats purchased this week, which allow the players better traction for speed and strength.
Another weapon against the cold will be clothing.
"We all got out this week and brought some thermal underwear," commented centre Aaron Sussex on one way the team will battle the cold. "The coaches told us to bring everything we could. You can't wear something you didn't bring."
No matter what the temperature, all indications signal a heated battle between two teams that have not met since Western's 50-40 Vanier Cup victory in 1994. Only a handful of players remain from the national championship four years ago, leaving a certain degree of mystery in the air.
"The thing that is different about bowl games is that you have no one to compare your opponent to. You have no gauge to stack them up physically," said Saskatchewan head coach Brian Towriss.
Both the Mustangs and the Huskies have spent the past week analyzing game film from their opponents' last three games to build an effective strategy.
After several days of pausing and rewinding, Towriss noted both teams have their own unique style of play. While Western relies more on the running game, the Huskies will be going to the air more often to earn yardage. He expects the result to be a high-scoring affair.
The Churchill Bowl will kick-off at 2 p.m. tomorrow with the winner heading to the Vanier Cup next weekend at SkyDome.
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Copyright © The Gazette 1998