The Varsity Blues football program fell short in their first game of the 2016 season to the Guelph Gryphons 41-22 on Sunday, August 28 at Alumni Stadium in Guelph. It was a slow start for the Blues squad as they saw themselves down 36-1 at the half, but they rebounded in a strong way in the second half, outscoring the defending Yates Cup champions 21-5.
Fourth-year Florida Tech transfer Kaleb Leach had an impressive showing in his first CIS game. Leach tallied 149 all-purpose yards, including 79 rushing yards on five carries for one touchdown. Leach has made the big jump from NCAA football to CIS football, but looks like he hasn’t missed a beat showing off his American prowess on the turf.
Fifth-year quarterback Marcus Hobbs received the nod as the Blues’ first-string quarterback before this season. Hobbs was 19-of-35 for 261 yards with one rushing touchdown. In an online interview through the Varsity Blues team website, Head Coach Greg Gary showed confidence in his decision to put the veteran behind the front line: “Marcus Hobbs has been with the program for five years. Marcus is going to be our starter. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to as far as his preparation goes. His confidence level is high. We feel really good.”
Adrian Bernard, a third-year political science student from UTM is looked upon as the captain of the defense going forward in this season. “Adrian Bernard is going to be that motor, he’s someone that we rely on to bring that high energy. So far, from the Mike [linebacker] position, we see him being a very productive leader,” says Coach Gary. Bernard led all players with ten tackles in the loss.
The Blues set their sights on winning their first game of the season at Tim Horton’s Field on Monday, September 5 against the McMaster Marauders. The Marauders are an incredibly talented team filled with tremendous confidence from their two Vanier Cup appearances in the last five years. The Western Mustangs have held first place and been seen as the most dominant team in the past for a long time. However, the Marauders play exceptionally deep in the season when the games matter most, allowing them to knock off any talented team that gets in their way.
The Blues are a team filled with rich history and incredible accolades. The Blues won their first Grey Cup in 1909, while amounting 25 Yates Cups and two Vanier Cup titles to their name. The Blues feel as though it is time that they make another dent in their success story this season.
“I think every team that gets good and eventually stays good goes through these tough valleys, and I think we had a valley last year not being successful in our final game. I think that adds that hunger, so we want to be hungry. We want to be competitive in every game, but we want to win football games,” says Coach Gary.