The Varsity Blues football team seemed to shine as bright as the afternoon sky on August 30 during the first two quarters of play against the defending Yates Cup champions, McMaster Marauders. But to their dismay, a faulty second half cost them a lead, and they eventually fell 55-33 in their season opener at Varsity Stadium.

A possible upset loomed over the McMaster faithful when the Blues led 26-24 at halftime, but the Marauders pulled out on top.

The main thorn in the Blues’ side was CIS all-Canadian receiver Danny Vandervoort, who made ten catches for 168 yards and four touchdowns for the opposing squad. He connected with second-year quarterback Asher Hastings, who went 26-34 and 383 yards and five touchdowns.

Blues quarterback Simon Nassar picked up right where he left off last year, when he led the league in many offensive categories, throwing 29-for-49 for 361 yards and one touchdown. His favorite target, fifth-year receiver Boris Isakov, made six catches for 87 yards. Second-year receiver Domenic Battistella caught the only touchdown thrown that afternoon when Nassar threw it from the Marauders’ one-yard line.

Even though the Blues allowed the Marauders 55 points, there were exceptional standouts from the defensive side, including fourth-year linebacker Adrian Bernard, who had transferred from Susquehanna, Pennsylvania. Bernard led all the players with eight tackles, adding a sack and forced fumble. Other standouts include Brittley Mokube, Jaiden McBride, and Trevor Harvey, who each had 6.5 tackles.

The Player of the Game for the Blues and the Varsity Athlete of the Week was second-year running back and UTM student Divante Smith. Smith had 18 rushes for 112 yards and three touchdowns. In the single game against the Marauders, Divante accumulated totals that took him half a year to accomplish last year.

“I’m the same guy as I was last year; I’m keeping my mind focused,” says Smith, adding that he’s positive that he can fill the shoes of Lukas Gavac, Blues fourth-year all-star running back who went down with an injury prior to the regular season.

“We looked at the first half of the game and saw that we were beating the defending [Yates Cup] champions. We know we can play against the best; all we have to do is finish off the best,” Smith continued. “Look at the way McMaster was able to come back and beat us—they’re a good team. Now we learn from that and move on.”

The Blues are now suiting up against the Queen’s Gaels at Varsity Stadium on September 26 at 1 p.m. The Blues look to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995.