Volume 96, Issue 14
Friday, September 20, 2002

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Western versus McMaster - what more could you ask for?

By Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

POWER TO THE PEOPLE. Defensive lineman Martin Dionne exchange pleasantries as they switch lines.

It's going to be an emotional return for former Mustangs great and current head coach of the McMaster University football team Greg Marshall, as his team rolls into TD Waterhouse Stadium this weekend for the Homecoming classic.

This is not Marshall's first time back in London since he left Western to become the head coach of Mac in 1997.

"There have been enough big games over the years and Homecoming is another one of those big games," Marshall said. "But now it means I have more family and friends in the stands, cheering on the other team."

Marshall still has fond memories of his time spent at Western, both as a player and as the team's offensive co-ordinator. One particular moment was in 1978, when he was a freshmen playing against Wilfred Laurier University in front of a packed house at J.W. Little Stadium. "That is one game that comes to mind whenever I think of Homecoming," Marshall added.

Once Saturday rolls around, Marshall will be all business as his team looks to make it three straight wins against the Mustangs, including last season's regular and post-season victories versus the 'Stangs.

"It's going to be a good challenge for us – Western has a great team," Marshall said. "Both teams are 3-0, so there's a lot of pride at stake."

All-star offensive lineman David Zakel, who was named the Most Improved Player for the Mustangs last year, provided some insight as to the team's preparation and all the hoopla that surrounds the Homecoming classic.

"It's Homecoming, so we have to kick it up a notch, but we've prepared the same way that we would for any other game – just pumped up the intensity a little," Zakel said.

Western head coach Larry Haylor commented on several instances over the past few games when his team was unable to punch it in to the end zone.

"We can't lament over what might have been, now we have to go forward and make things happen," Haylor said. "We have to get better at putting [the ball] in the end zone when we have the opportunity."

Both teams' defenses are playing outstanding coming into this game, particularly Western's. Oposing teams have only scored 33 points against them in the past three games.

One area of concern for McMaster is at quarterback. With the loss of Hec Creighton Trophy winner Ben Chapdelaine to graduation, freshman Jon Behie and sophomore Mike Zaremba make up the quarterback tandem for the Marauders. Both have seen limited playing time in university football. Behie, however, has seen more snaps this year than Zaremba.

Both coaches have high praise for Behie, who is a former Metro Bowl (the Ontario high school football championship) champion. When asked whether the noise in TD Waterhouse would bother the young QB, Marshall answered, "TD Waterhouse is very noisy and that will affect us, but nothing seems to rattle the kid."

On Behie, Haylor added, "He can run and throw, so athletically he's outstanding."

Look for the teams to cut the crap and get down to some good ol' fashioned smash-mouth football on Saturday.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. and anyone unable to attend can catch the game live, as always, on Radio Western CHRW 94.7.

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2002 THE GAZETTE