'Stangs look to crash homecoming party
By John Dinner
The beauty of a football game is that it is decided by inches and seconds. If three or four plays had gone a different way the Mustangs could be 0-2 and Toronto 2-0 entering this weekend's contest.
But alas, this is not the case and Western is favoured to continue its dominant role into their own homecoming weekend.
Still, Toronto will not roll over and die and they are pulling out all the stops for their homecoming weekend this Saturday. The first of these will be the introduction of Toronto's 1948 Vanier Cup champions in honour of their 50th anniversary and who coincidentally beat Western in the final.
"We had a good test in our first game against Mac, going into a very enthusiastic and hostile crowd," said head coach Larry Haylor. "[The coaching staff] have made the players aware of the situation we're going into and I believe the guys are prepared and excited."
Toronto head coach Bob Laycoe said he believes the emotion of the game can be both a positive and a negative factor. "If we're up too high it could cause a lot of mistakes, bringing emotion crashing back down," Laycoe said. "We've emphasized that the things going on, on the sidelines or in the stands have no bearing on the outcome of the game."
Laycoe did admit this is not only a big game because of homecoming, but dropping to 0-3 would make their playoff hopes very dim.
"It's the nature of the game," Laycoe said, speaking on the fact that two or three plays at the end of each of the first two games have decided their win-loss record. "What we've got to do is learn from these losses and keep improving."
One area Toronto doesn't need improvement on is defense, where they've held teams to a total of 21 points so far this season.
"They are the least scored upon team in the division," Haylor said. "They are all veterans that can play the game. Our guys have to acknowledge the challenge and not allow them to get consistent pressure [on the ball]."
Despite the solid defense, Toronto's anemic offense has not been able to get on track. They've been at or near, the bottom in all of the offensive categories. "We just need to keep learning and improving," said the offensive side of the ball coach Laycoe, when asked what needs changing.
Toronto will probably try to run a lot of plays out of the shotgun, including quarterback draws and a lot of pause or delay plays.
As much as Toronto tries to fool or fake the defense, the 'Stangs are planning to be well prepared. "Not too many teams can surprise us," fullback Fabian Rayne said. "Coach Haylor prepares us for each and every game and this is no different. Whatever they throw at us we'll be ready."
Preparation for this game really is no different than any game of the season but emotions should be running high because of the long-standing rivalry between the schools.
"Coach had made us aware of the situation we're entering," said third-year Mustang running back Tony Pepe. "We've got to stay level-headed and not let the emotions get to us but at the same time we've got to get hyped and be prepared for their emotion."