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The Western who?
Lions never catch a break.
That's because whenever they are in the area, every meal on legs is bug-eyed and poised to make a swift exit. For a long time, the Mustangs' football team could relate, but with a shifting food chain in the Ontario University Athletics conference, things could be different this year.
In years past, opponents had their game with the Mustangs circled on the calendar long before any exam dates. Western may as well have replaced the traditional fleet footed horse emblem with a target on their chest because every team in the OUA was gunning for them. While it didn't ensure a good result for the opposition, it did ensure the Mustangs would never catch any team off-guard.
The youthful Mustangs may find themselves in uncharted territory this year. With the exit of quarterback Mike O'Brien and running back Fabian Rayne, the Mustangs have taken a visible hit to the roster and that is not lost on any team. No matter how many "they've still got a great team" and "we can't afford to take anyone lightly," clichés opponents utter, the fact is, they don't see Western as the big, bad pigskin monster they once did.
This is something the Mustangs must use to their advantage. Keeping a low profile never hurts and it just may give Western the opportunity to sneak up on some teams and catch them while their head is turned, looking for the Mac truck that is supposed to rumble through the league this year.
There will certainly be no gimmies for the Mustangs, but if some of the highly touted recruits can step up they're bound to catch a few teams napping.
Having said this, it's not realistic to expect teams to take a relaxed approach to playing Western. They still have a strong team as indicated by their perfect record and some teams might be looking to extract a little revenge from beatings they have taken in years past.
It's a little bit like a kid brother who suddenly hits puberty and shoots five inches past the older sibling who once hung them over the banister railing. You can bet that little brother has grand visions of vengeance.
The fact Western is closer to an underdog than a favourite also alleviates much of the pressure usually perched squarely on the shoulder pads of Mustang football players. Less pressure means less expectations, which is a great way to approach most things in life.
The great soul diva Aretha Franklin once demanded r-e-s-p-e-c-t. While that is certainly a terrific asset, the Mustangs might find you can also benefit a great deal from a little a-n-o-n-y-m-i-t-y