Vanier Cup: duel at the top

For the first time in 12 years, neither the Université Laval Rouge et Or nor the Université de Montréal Carabins will play the Vanier Cup match. But the two teams competing tomorrow at the Stade Telus in Quebec City are some of the best teams in Canada this season, especially on offense.

The Saskatchewan Huskies reached the grand final by orchestrating an anthology comeback at the expense of the Carabins a week ago, at the CEPSUM in Montreal, winning 14 to 10.

But the Huskies’ success goes back further: the team led by former Alouettes Scott Flory has not lost since its first game of the season, beating Canadian defending champions, the Calgary Dinos.

As for the Western Mustangs, they crushed the St. Francis Xavier X-Men at the Mitchell Cup and dominated them by 55 points.

Their only loss of the season came at the hands of the University of Guelph in the second game of the campaign.

Flory was still happy with the 13-meter run into the end zone by his running back Adam Machart, who managed to go with just five seconds on the clock just days after this fatal move for the Carabins.

Not their best game

But despite the resilience his Huskies showed during the Uteck Cup, the former lineman took nothing for granted this week.

“Yes, it is a game that generates respect, but that does not guarantee anything,” Flory said at a press conference. We need our best players to make their best game at the right time, which they did against the Carabins. †

“Still, we didn’t play our best game last Saturday. Hopefully that will also be the case in the final,” he added.

Veteran Mustang coach Greg Marshall returns for the second time in three seasons to lead his team in Quebec. In 2018, Western was defeated by the Rouge et Or 34-20.

“The Huskies are just like us: it’s a team built for winter, he analyzed this week. And last week they had to deal with adversity. †

similar powers

The Huskies and the Mustangs are two teams that look alike: They rely primarily on imposing offensive lines.

“The strength of the Huskies is really their size,” said Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, former Rouge et Or player turned analyst at TVA Sports. They are like bouncers at the door of a bar. You don’t want to mess with them! †

“The Mustangs are good at all facets of the game. And like the Huskies, they have a big attacking line that, in the Mitchell Cup, wiped out anyone who came before it,” he adds.

Two effective services


Mason Nyhus

Photo Martin Alarie

Mason Nyhus

Both quarterbacks – Huskies veteran Mason Nyhus, Mustangs rookie Evan Hillock – like to combine running and passing.

And with the cold of the past few days in Quebec, the field at Stade Telus is rock hard. The ground game is definitely recommended.

But Nyhus has been particularly successful with passing this year, averaging 265 yards per game and hitting 21 touchdowns.

“The Huskies have a very good defense. They train every day against a team that excels at running, emphasizes coach Marshall. Their offensive line is very athletic, but ours is one of the best I’ve managed.”

Nyhus will also face pressure from defensive lineman Deonte White, who has a Canadian 7.5 quarterback this season.

5500 tickets sold

About 5,500 tickets have been sold this afternoon for the Canadian final, which will be played at -9 degrees. Far from the 8,300 that would have found takers two years ago, or the 12,400 spectators who attended the Rouge et Or win against Western in 2018.

In fact, it would be the lowest attendance in the event’s history since its inaugural event in Toronto in 1965 (3,488).

Julie Dionne, director of the sports activities division of PEPS, said a few days ago that she expected lower figures, a trend that we see more and more in the sports world. “Even with the Canadian,” she said.

Presented in Quebec for the third year in a row, we can wait a few years before the Vanier Cup game is played again at Laval University facilities, M added.me Dionne held on the sidelines of the final during the press conference on Thursday.

“I think we’ve done our part,” she said. We are not looking for next year, we are focusing on this year. Such an organization puts a lot of pressure on our staff, especially in the pandemic context. †

Five universities would already have the hand to organize next year’s final.

MUSTANGS

University of Western Ontario

  • Evolve into: London, Ontario
  • Head Coach: Greg Marshall (14 years old)
  • Vanier Cup titles: 7 (1971, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1989, 1994 and 2017)
  • Regular season record: 5-1

HUSKIES

University of Saskatchewan

  • Evolve into: Saskatoon
  • Head Coach: Scott Flory (for 4 years)
  • Vanier Cup titles: 3 (1990, 1996, 1998)
  • Regular season record: 5-1

Édouard Wanadi on familiar ground

The Quebecer will play for about thirty members of his family tomorrow


Quebec running back Édouard Wanadi rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men during the Mitchell Cup on November 27.

Courtesy photo

Quebec running back Édouard Wanadi rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men during the Mitchell Cup on November 27.

Édouard Wanadi grew up in Saint-Jérôme, but he finds himself in familiar territory this week in Quebec, where the Western Mustangs play the Vanier Cup game tomorrow.

His mother Amélie, his sister Nadia and his brother David are all graduates of the Université Laval.

At Collège Bourget, where the ball carrier took his first steps in football, both sports director Maxime Bérubé and coach Steve Landry are two former players of Rouge et Or.

And with the Champlain Cougars, where he won the Bol d’Or in 2019, driver Jean-François Joncas won two Vanier Cups with Laval.

So De Rouge et Or might have seemed like a logical destination for the attacking half, but Wanadi dreamed of Western. A renowned program, mentioned seven times across Canada, that counted among its players some of its idols whose exploits he admired on the Internet.

Notably Montreal chasing Cédric Joseph, a former Cougars like him who set team records for the Mustangs.

“Cedric Joseph is the “goat† [le meilleur de tous les temps] † I still write the initials CJ on my wrist guards before every game, Wanadi said this week. I saw what he was doing here and it really weighed on the scale. †

No regrets

A few hours after the end of his first college season, Wanadi has no regrets about his decision to move abroad, a 10-hour drive from his family.

“I have the utmost respect for the Rouge et Or program, for their coaches,” he said. The facilities here are great, I know the place. But now I’m playing with guys I’ve been watching for a long time. †

“I was also looking for a program where you were on the ball a lot, and that was the case with Western,” he added.

As a rookie, Wanadi appeared in nine games this season. But he especially had a blast at the Mitchell Cup, against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men. While the Mustangs were way ahead, his coach Greg Marshall regularly sent him onto the field.

The running back finished the game with 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns in Western’s resounding 61-6 win.

Ready for a long time

They will be cheering him on tomorrow with more than thirty members of his family in the stands of the Telus Stadium. Both parents from Quebec and his relatives from Montreal, who will be making the trip for the occasion.

And they were ready for a long time: “They bought their tickets five weeks ago, explains Wanadi. They told themselves that if my team played in the final, they would be there! †

The Huskies want to get their noble letters back

Both programs that face each other in the final tomorrow have Vanier Cup experience. In its history, Western has won the Canadian title seven times, while Saskatchewan has won three times.

But the successes of the Mustangs are much more recent than those of the Huskies. They were crowned champions four years ago, against the Rouge et Or, and lost in the final the following season.

Saskatchewan played its last Vanier Cup 15 years ago and won the last trophy in 1998.

with Floris

At the time, Scott Flory was one of the leaders of the team. It was the lineman’s second and final capture of the trophy, after the one two years earlier. He would join the Alouettes in 1999, winning three Gray Cups.

After years of drought, the Huskies have regained some of their former glory since Flory’s arrival as head coach. They have twice won the Hardy Cup awarded to western champions.

naturally

The former Alouettes led his team to the Mitchell Cup in 2018 and went on to win the Uteck Cup this year, earning him his first ticket to the Canadian finals as head coach.

“Returning to Saskatchewan was natural for me. I was born and raised there. This is my alma materso after my career I moved there with my whole family,” Flory explained to the Loglast week.

The head coach made no secret of his intention to bring the institute back to the highest peaks at a press conference on Thursday.

“Back then, the Vanier Cup was our standard. We started every season with the goal of winning it. And tomorrow it will still be like that. We want to be part of the elite of Canadian college football. †

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