The U of T Varsity Blues survived a war—24 to 19—with their arch-nemesis, the York Lions, in the annual Red and Blue Bowl this past Saturday at Varsity Field. Quarterback Andrew Gillis had two rushing touchdowns and passed the ball effectively while rookie running back Aaron Milton had almost 150 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. The Blues’ defence played outstandingly as well. Defensive Lineman Adam Fehler had an outstanding game; he racked up two sacks, six tackles, and an interception. His performance was so dominant that Adam received the OUA Defensive Player of the Week. This makes the Blues’ third straight victory against their inter-city rivals, which should come as no surprise.
Despite their 1-3 record, the Blues have shown signs of a bright future and might soon be a force to reckon with. The Blues have a bye this week, but will host Ottawa on October 2.
Greg Delaval, the head coach of the Blues, has been able to gradually improve the program. He believes they are on the cusp of greatness, bringing back the glory of pastU of T teams. “We have a solid core for the future; we had 50 freshmen show up for training camp,” he said. With outstanding freshmen like Aaron Milton and Justin Babin, the Blues have a talent that will only grow and flourish.
However, recruiting was not easy for the Blues in the last few years. Coach Delaval explains that U of T used to rely on their academics to recruit, but it wasn’t enough: “Our facilities could not compare to those of Western, and with the losing streak it made it even harder.” But despite all the obstacles, Coach Delaval’s policy is to stay the course and now U of T is ready to dominate the CIS. Ex-player Drew Meerveld, who walked on from UTM and became a CFL prospect, talks about the change of culture and the rapid improvement of the team. “The lack of success was constantly reinforced by outsiders who constantly write things in the media. We overcame our struggles by having every player committed to one goal. It started in our offseason and the transformation was evident to everyone.”
The Varsity Blues lack exposure across every campus and it goes beyond football—this goes for all U of T sports. There are tons of people who enjoy football at UTM and would definitely watch their school play if it were more accessible.
U of T should be concerned with the lack of enthusiasm shown; as students, we are all a part of the U of T family and should support these warriors, who stick on the pads every weekend and represent us to the best of their ability. The players and coaches sacrifice not only their bodies, but their time to represent the school. With more support from fans and the constant improvement the Blues show every year, it will only be a matter of time before the University of Toronto Varsity Blues are in the Vanier Cup.