Volume 96, Issue 7
Tuesday, September 10, 2002

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Mustangs defense stymies Yeomen attack

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

I GOT MY BOY'S BACK. Western Mustangs defensive back Marty Robertson lays out a York special teams player and cornerback Kris Aiken reaps the rewards

By Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

Twenty-one years and counting.

That's how long it has been since the York Yeomen beat the Western Mustangs in a football game. Included in that streak is last Saturday afternoon's 16-11 Mustangs victory at TD Waterhouse Stadium.

The Mustangs stumbled out of the gates in the first half with quarterback Chris Hessel throwing two first quarter interceptions, but he soon got back on track, completing 20 of 31 pass attempts for 280 yards.

"Our offense struggled in the first quarter, but we started coming on in the second," said Mustangs head coach Larry Haylor. "We did the job on defense – just our offense didn't quite play like we wanted."

Both York and Western exhibited strong defense with York edging Western slightly in that category.

"We made mistakes at critical times and ended up paying for those mistakes," said Yeomen head coach Tom Gretes.

York's quarterback Billy Barbosa was a meager 13 of 29 for 182 yards through the air and added an interception late in the fourth quarter to Western defensive back Kevin Allison to seal the victory for the Mustangs.

Running back Drew Soleyn had another stand out game, carrying the ball 25 times for 118 yards and one touchdown. "He's a great back," Gretes said. "We had to make adjustments to stop him."

Roster problems had developed during the week when Western lost their punter Rob Pikula to a broken leg during their Labour Day win over Windsor. In response, back-up quarterback Nathan Weiss took over the punting duties, averaging 41.5 yards per punt. Meanwhile, tight end Nick Spasic took over the kicking duties, averaging 56 yards per kickoff. Not too shabby for guys who don't normally play those positions.

First-year Mustangs receiver Andy Fantuz continued his stellar play in Western's second game of the season with 135 receiving yards on seven catches. In the season opener last Saturday, Fantuz picked up 101 yards and two touchdowns on four receptions. He leads all Mustangs with 236 receiving yards for the season.

Comparisons are already being drawn between Fantuz and former Mustangs great Tyrone Williams, who leads all Mustangs in career receiving yards with 2,078.

A multi-sport athlete in high school, Fantuz was a three-time MVP for his football team, the John McGregor Panthers out of Chatham, Ontario and was also the MVP of the basketball team. In his final year of high school, he was awarded Male Athlete of the Year honours.

He possesses great size and speed, standing tall at 6'4" and tipping the scales at a lean, but solid, 205 pounds. His hands look like bear paws when compared to mere mortals, which give him the ability to catch anything that's thrown his way. To put it bluntly, Fantuz is Fantuz-tic (I spent all night thinking of that one – sad but true).

Fantuz was heavily recruited in the winter and turned down several offers to play ball south of the border before deciding to join the Mustangs, but still understands the competition is tough in the CIS.

"I'm in another world," Fantuz said. "The guys [in the CIS] are way bigger, stronger and faster."


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