Top Ten U Sports Football Teams – Week 4

What a week! Last-minute wins, stunning results and highly anticipated games further down the fixture list are getting more and more exciting! Apologies about the delay in getting this out but nonetheless, here is what the top ten in U Sports football looks like five weeks into the 2022 season!

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10. Mount Allison

Previous Ranking: Not Ranked

Record: 3-0

Last Game: Win @ Acadia Axemen (12-9)

Next Game: Vs. St. FX X-Men

Returning to the top ten is the Mount Allison Mounties – who sit jointly atop the AUS at 3-0 alongside STFX. Once again, it was close. Mount Allison defeated Acadia 12-9, marking the third time in as many games they had won a game by a score of six or less. As you can imagine, their defence has been key to this. The Mounties D has averaged less than ten points per game, and against the Axemen, they gave up only 182 yards and created three turnovers. If they are to usurp the reigning AUS champions STFX next week, they’ll need to maintain their excellent start to the season on defence, and hope that top ten running back Brandt Burzuk can give the team a spark on offence!

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9. Alberta Golden Bears

Previous Ranking: 10th

Record: 2-1

Last Game: Win @ Calgary Dinos (34-23)

Next Game: Vs. Saskatchewan Huskies

Two words…Eli Hetlinger. The rookie signal-caller continues to look unstoppable this season, sitting at seven touchdowns (and three rushing TDs) for just one pick and 935 yards after just three games! Against provincial rivals Calgary, Alberta Hetlinger put up 392 total yards on offence as the Bears raced out to a 33-8 lead at halftime. Calgary did narrow the gap to 34-23, but a stout defence throughout the game meant it was never in doubt. Linebacker Jassen Brown starred with seven-and-a-half tackles which included one-and-a-half sacks into less a defence that totalled one pick, three sacks and held the Dinos to just 41 rushing yards. The West is tough this season, but the Bears are looking quickly like a team no one wants to face!

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8. Ottawa Gee-Gees

Previous Ranking: 8th

Record: 3-1

Last Game: Win Vs. Guelph Gryphons (46-10)

Next Game: @ Laurier Golden Hawks

Ottawa has been quietly going about their business in the OUA, and they now find themselves third in the OUA and well in the playoff hunt. Key to this has been running back Jean-Paul Cimankinda, who with 384 yards, is currently the number one rusher in Canadian college football. But against Guelph, Ottawa showed their versatility on offence, as Cimankinda’s 108 yards were only good enough for second-best in his team. Instead, Amlicar Polk lead the Gee-Gees with 116 yards, and combined with Quarterback Ben Maracle’s 303 passing yards and three touchdowns resulted in a resounding 46-10 win! Maracle’s favourite target in the day was Daniel Oladejo, who put in what was by far his best performance of the season with 124 yards of just six catches! If the Gee-Gees can replicate such offensive prowess against the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks next week, then we should all start taking notice.

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7. Laval Rouge et Or

Previous Ranking: 6th

Record: 2-1

Last Game: Loss @ Montreal Carabins (21-18)

Next Game: Vs. Concordia Stingers

After their last-minute heartache against bitter rivals Montreal last week, Laval has had a chance to rest and take notice of the rest of the RSEQ. They would’ve witnessed Montreal struggling to shake off Sherbrooke, whilst also noticing that their next opponents, the Concordia Stingers finally get off the mark with a 42-16 win over McGill. Laval has been used to being the big dogs in Quebec, but recently they’ve struggled to get one over Montreal when it matters, and their next game against the Stingers will be a real test – some people even predicted the Stingers would finish above Laval in the standings! If Le Rouge et Or can combine the defence vs Montreal, and the offence vs McGill, it’ll stand them in good stead for the rest of the season. But that’s even said than done, especially against reigning RSEQ MVP Oliver Roy. Make no mistake, this upcoming game in Quebec City is a big one, and I can’t wait to see it play out!

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6. Queen’s Gaels

Previous Ranking: 7th

Record: 3-1

Last Game: Win Vs. Carleton Ravens (49-17)

Next Game: @ Guelph Gryphons

If anyone was worried if Queen’s record last season was inflated, then they can now almost certainly relax. Against a good Carleton side, the Ravens defence simply has no answer for James Keenan and the Gales offence. After floating under the radar, Keenan now sits with over 900 passing yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions, and he tore through Carleton last week to the tune of 364 yards and four touchdowns! He was helped out a lot by a very talented support cast. Receivers Aidan O’Neal and Richard Burton combined for 256 yards, and running backs Yann Longa and Anthony Soles 193 yards also! Critics will point to the fact that Queen’s have only beaten 2021 OUA East opponents this season, so their upcoming games against Guelph, McMaster and Laurier will go a long way to defining their season ahead.

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5. St. Francis Xavier X-Men

Previous Ranking: 5th

Record: 3-0

Last Game: Win @ Bishop’s Gaiters (24-10)

Next Game: @ Mount Allison Mounties

Sitting at 3-0, the X-Men survived their toughest test away from last year’s Loney Bowl finalists – the Bishop’s Gaiters. It wasn’t easy, STFX’s main tool on the day was the swinging boot of kicker/punter Ben Hadley who accounted for thirteen of the X-Men’s twenty-one points as Silas Fagnan could only muster one touchdown on the day. Fagnan, who lit up the AUS last year has made a slow start this season with just two TDs, and 565 passing yards through four games. But that hasn’t slowed down the X-Men! Their defence had held firm throughout against the Gaiters, even with Bishop’s threatening a comeback – the X-Men sealed the win thanks to their defence. Zach Willems had a crucial eight-yard sack on Bishop’s final drive, and Thomas Bentley (1 INT) and Brandyn Martin (6.5 tackles) also starred on the day. Next week, they play Mount Allison – another 3-0 team with a strong defence. Let’s see which teams offence steps up to the task.

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4. Regina Rams

Previous Ranking: 4th

Record: 2-1

Last Game: Loss Vs. Saskatchewan Huskies (11-10)

Next Game: @ UBC Thunderbirds

7055 fans were in attendance at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium to see the Regina Rams take on their provincial rivals, the Saskatchewan Huskies. It was a tough, defensively fought battle, in which Regina actually lead with less than two minutes to go, after Noah Pelletier lead the team on a 94-yard drive. It wasn’t to be, however. The Huskies denied them the win thanks to a last-second field goal, but Regina shouldn’t be downhearted. They fought tough and nail with the 2021 Vainer Cup finalists, and will be encouraged going forward the rest of the season. One thing that will be conceded about is the four fumbles (one lost) and an interception, if Regina can protect the ball better the next time they play Saskatchewan, then perhaps they can get revenge on their rivals next time.

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3. Montreal Carabins

Previous Ranking: 3rd

Record: 3-0

Last Game: Win Vs. Sherbrooke Vert et Or (24-20)

Next Game: @ McGill Redbirds

Have the stress levels calmed down yet Carabins fans? This game between Montreal and Sherbrooke perhaps told us more about the Vert et Or than it did the Carabins! Sherbrooke at this point seem to be the third-best team in the RSEQ, and even tied the game at 18-18 halfway through the fourth quarter. This game was close throughout, with Montreal just doing enough to pull away with a 20-24 win. It was the second time in as many games as Montreal had won a tight game at the end, and it is often a trait associated with championship teams – finding a way to win games no matter what! Montreal for most of this season has yet to reach top gear and when/if they do, the RSEQ and all the Vanier Cup contenders better watch out!

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2. Saskatchewan Huskies

Previous Ranking: 2nd

Record: 3-0

Last Game: Win @ Regina Rams (11-10)

Next Game: @ Alberta Golden Bears

What a win! In a game in which Saskatchewan’s Canada West dominance was threatened by their provincial rivals, the Huskies reminded us why they are the team to beat out west. Receiver Rhett Vavra and quarterback Mason Nyhus combined for fifteen pass completions and 105 yards, but perhaps Vavra’s most clutch play was a fumble recovery on Saskatchewan’s final drive which kept the game alive! This was crucial in helping to set up a game-winning field goal by David Solie, who including the game-winner – scored nine of the Huskies’ eleven points on the day. The defence was also as stout as ever, with linebacker Nick Wiebe totalling seven tackles, and a pass deflection that lead to an interception. Next up is a trip to Alberta, another tough test for this Huskies side who seems to embrace the big games.

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1. Western Mustangs

Previous Ranking: 1st

Record: 3-0

Last Game: Win Vs. Queen’s Gaels (35-11)

Next Game: Vs. Waterloo Warriors

Despite the bye, the champs remain at number one. No one in the OUA could overtake them this weekend, and they’ll be ready to go against Waterloo. Their team is full of statistical leaders, Evan Hillock leads U Sports football in touchdowns with nine, and running backs Keon Edwards and Edouard Wanadi are both in the top five for average rushing yards. Defensive-back Brendan Murphy has second most tackles for losses (seven) of all defenders, and his DB counterpart, Daniel Valente leads U Sports with three interceptions! These stats are telling of a dominating team filled with talent, to take the Yates Cup off this team, an OUA team will have to be at their very best! Even then, it may not be enough.


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