Volume 92, Issue 18

Friday, October 2, 1998

homing in


Mustangs must solve Waterloo mystery

Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

By Ian Ross
Gazette Staff

Homecoming is all about tradition, but for the Western Mustangs there is one ritual which would preferably end on Saturday – Waterloo domination.

For the past two seasons, the Warriors have controlled the Mustangs at J.W. Little Stadium, capturing all three of the rival match-ups. To make matters worse, last season they took home the two most important games of the Western season with victories in the Yates Cup and Homecoming.

"I don't think you can really call it a jinx," said Western head coach Larry Haylor. "They have just played better than we have and that is a big part of it. They have been an exceptionally good football team and this group is not a whole lot different."

That said, there is little doubt that revenge for the Mustangs will be a motivator on Saturday. But whether raw emotion will be enough is questionable.

Waterloo hasn't lost a beat since last season's Yates Cup victory. They are undefeated after three games running over York, Guelph and Laurier to the combined score of 116-30. Last week only showed an increase in momentum with a 54-3 victory over York.

Waterloo quarterback Ryan Wilkinson leads the league in touchdown passes with seven while running back Mike Bradley has filled the shoes of graduate and current Hamilton Tiger Cat Jarrett Smith, with 320 yards on the ground.

"We have great versatility on offence," said Waterloo head coach Chris Triantafilon. "Taking away the run would be a big mistake because we can just turn to our passing game. That happened last week against York when they put eight guys on the line. We really don't emphasize one over the other."

Western will need to be firing on all cylinders to come out the victors this weekend, something Haylor recognizes his team has struggled to do so far this season.

"They have won convincingly in all three of their games while we struggled in a couple," he said. "If we knew the reason we would try to fix it. It can be frustrating making mistakes and it is something we have to stop. Waterloo can stop us without us shooting ourselves with mistakes."

To counter the Waterloo attack, Haylor pointed to a simple yet clear plan of attack. "To stop them we are going to try and keep the defence on the field and the offense off."

To do so, Western's offence will need to play four quarters of football in maximum overdrive. Fabian Rayne and Scott Crawley – who sit first and fourth in rushing in the division – will need to drive through a big Waterloo offensive line. In the air, quarterback Mike O'Brien will look for receiving leader Dan Disley (270 yards) to pull in a few key grabs.

As for the pressure that the Homecoming title holds, both coaches noted it can only enhance the level of play during the game.

"It's a nice form of pressure," Haylor said. "With a huge crowd it is motivating to both teams."

Triantafilon responded with similar enthusiasm.

"There is no where else I would rather be than a place where 10,000 hate you," he said.

Kick-off is at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazette.sports@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998