Young Mac steps into the ring
BY IAN ROSS
There are a new bunch of kids on the Ontario University Athletics block. Their name the McMaster Mauraders.
The butt of many football jokes in the past, the former basement dwellers are bigger and stronger than ever and on Saturday they will take on the Western Mustangs in their first playoff game in 12 years.
Mac is back in contention, due in large part to Mustang legend Greg Marshall, who took over coaching control of a floundering program two years ago. Add to the mix a sophomore quarterback, Ben Chapdelaine, with one of the top arms in the country and you have a team that captured the last playoff spot with a 4-4 record.
"To be honest, I didn't think we would develop this fast," Marshall said. "What we did this year I had planned for my third year. This program is a year ahead of my expections."
Marshall said his team will not be content to fold like a deck of cards when they face Western for the OUA semifinal tilt, but admitted the task in front of them will by no means be easy. His philosophy for winning was straight forward stay close by the half and hold onto the football.
Easier said than done. What the Marauders will be lining up against is the top team in the country according to the CIAU polls. Without a doubt, Western will counter with a balanced offensive attack and a cruel defence.
Head coach Larry Haylor returns after a two-week hiatus and forecasted a high scoring affair with two very capable quaterbacks running the show. He remarked the youth of Western third-year pivot Mike O'Brien and Mac's Chapdelaine should add an extra dimension of excitement to the game.
"There is an advantage to being young. You don't get easily discouraged," said the OUA coach of the year. "Both of these guys are fearless which you can often associate with youth."
While the Mac attack depends heavily on passing, O'Brien feels his team advantage lies in the versatility of the offence.
"We have a running and passing game which is good in any weather," he said. "I don't know if it's going to rain on Saturday, but we know that we can run in the rain or pass if it's dry."
Fabian Rayne and Scott Crawley, both OUA second team all-stars, will once again fill the one-two rushing punch, while first team receiver Dan Disley will handle whatever O'Brien throws his way.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday at J.W. Little Stadium. The winner will advance to the Yates Cup next weekend.