Déjà vu at its Best (48th Vanier Cup Preview)

The 2012 CIS season has seen one thing dominate the season and that is the consistency to which the season has played out. Last year saw the Calgary Dinos, Acadia Axemen, Laval Rouge et Or, and McMaster Marauders all make the National playoffs. This year it was the same as all four teams repeated as champions in their conference. The similarities continued as the Mitchell and Uteck Bowls saw the McMaster Marauders and Laval Rouge et Or take the wins. This would set up a McMaster vs. Laval Vanier Cup which would be the same matchup as 2011 when the Marauders would take on the Rouge et Or. Normally a rematch of the exact same schools is not something to get too excited about but that was before the 47th Vanier Cup. The 47th Vanier Cup changed the game forever as the Marauders and Rouge et Or played the best game ever. If you missed this game you missed a game with everything that any football fan would want. The Marauders went into the 2011 championship as a big underdog with almost everyone thinking that there was no way they could beat the Laval Rouge et Or. They put that theory to bed early in the game with a first half that saw the Marauders come out to a 23-0 lead. Most teams would be finished at that point but the Rouge et Or were no ordinary team. They came back quickly scoring 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. From there it would only get better as the teams would end the game tied and move into overtime. They would go back and forth in OT as well until the Marauders kicked a game winning field goal for their first Vanier Cup in school history. Now the two parts of the Greatest Game Ever Played will face off again in what fans hope can be another amazing game. This game will not match the excitement of 2011 but if it can be a fraction of that game it will still be one of the best Vanier Cup finals. In a matchup of a program on the cusp of a dynasty and a program that is the dynasty the Vanier Cup will be another close one with plenty to watch as the Marauders and Rouge et Or square off once again for the biggest prize in CIS football.

 

McMaster Marauders

 

 

 

 

 

After years of being unable to break through to the National spotlight as they had only made the Vanier Cup once before in 1967. 2011 would be the turning point for the program with a solid offence and defence that was hotter than most teams. They took this all the way to the Vanier Cup Championship where they won their first Vanier Cup. The hot streak did not end there though as the Marauders continued it into the 2012 season as they began the season ranked #1 and finished the season ranked #1 with no losses. It was clear that behind Kyle Quinlan and a stingy defence the Marauders were the best team in the country. They would break the record for most consecutive wins on their way to their second straight Yates Cup and their second straight Vanier Cup berth. The Marauders are clearly a force this year and have rarely been tested as they hold many of the top rankings in the CIS. Their power is clearly the offence though as they have the potential Hec Crighton winner Kyle Quinlan. Quinlan has been great all year in leading his offence even without his two biggest playmakers in wide receiver Michael DiCroce and running back Tanner Forsyth who both were out for the majority of the season with injuries. Despite a banged up squad the Marauders still managed to rank 2nd in the CIS in most major categories, except rushing. Their defence was no slouch either though led by 2011 Vanier Cup defensive MVP Aram Eisho and 2012 Outstanding Down Lineman nominee Ben D’Aguilar. As the best defence in the OUA the Marauders rank among the top ten defences in the CIS, only passing defence is ranked out of the top 10 in 11th. The Marauders are a very good team and they have shown that against some very good teams in the OUA and a very good team in Calgary. They are solid on both sides of the ball and can win either way but one thing is clear for the fate of this team. Kyle Quinlan must be Kyle Quinlan and have another great performance and lead his team to another win. If they cannot keep the ball in his hands it will be a long night for the Marauders who will need to find other ways to score against a very good Laval team.

 

Storyline:
The Dynasty Begins
– The Marauders have been a strong OUA team in the past but they had never been able to have National success until 2011 and now with a dominant season in 2012 the Marauders program is on the cusp of becoming a dynasty and another Vanier Cup would be another step in that direction

 

Player to Watch:
Kyle Quinlan, QB
– He is the best Canadian QB to come out of the CIS in a number of years and as the Hec Crighton favorite for 2012 he is the linchpin of the Marauders powerful offence and is the key to the Marauders repeating as Champions

 

How do they Win
Keep the Ball in Quinlan’s hands
– It is clear that the key to victory for the Marauders is to let Kyle Quinlan be himself and keep the ball in his hands to let him lead them to another Vanier Cup because if he does not get the opportunity the Marauders will not get past the Rouge et Or

 

Laval Rouge et Or

 

 

 

 

 

The Laval Rouge et Or are essentially the Yankees of CIS football as they are the dominant power in the league. They have won their conference 10 years in a row and have barely been challenged in all 10 years. They are also 6 time Vanier Cup Champions with a 6-1 record in the final game. This year was no different for many but their hopes of winning a Vanier Cup were not as strong this year. After years of dominating the RSEQ the Rouge et Or began seeing some challengers rise up and their dominance was no longer there. The Montreal Carabins had finally begun to come on and the Rouge et Or reign seemed to be coming to a close. The loss of Rene Levesque and Bruno Prud’homme had left Laval without their top offensive stars and the improvement of the Montreal Carabins challenged their dominance of the RSEQ. The game many would wait for, Montreal vs. Laval for the Dunsmore Cup, would not happen though and Laval would continue their 10 year reign in the RSEQ. The Rouge et Or left no doubt in the Uteck Bowl though as they easily handled the Acadia Axemen for another berth in the Vanier Cup. The loss of Prud’homme and Levesque were not as big as originally thought with a few players filling the role. In the running back position was Pascal Lochard with brief appearances from Maxime Boutin. After an injury to Lochard, Boutin took over in the Uteck Bowl and did well in carving up a good defence in the Axemen. At the QB position was Tristan Grenon who filled in very well in the absence of Prud’homme. With Grenon and Boutin leading the offence Laval is still a power. The Rouge et Or are better on the defensive side of the ball though with Frederic Plesius and Arnaud Gascon-Nadon leading the way. The Rouge et Or rank among the top defences in the league, in all categories except passing defence. This will be their strength of the Rouge et Or as they will look to shut down one of the best offences in the league with one of the best defences in the league. The game for Laval will rest on their defence and how much they can do against McMaster because if they can take the Marauders our of their rhythm this will be their game to lose.

 

Storyline
Revenge for the Dynasty
– The Rouge et Or have consistently been the biggest powerhouse in CIS football and they were supposed to continue that pattern in 2011 but they came up just short against the Marauders as they look for revenge in 2012 against the team that ended their perfect record in the Vanier Cup

 

Player to Watch
Frederic Plesius, LB
– Already a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Plesius is in his last year and is the RSEQ nominee for Defensive Player of the Year and his battle with Kyle Quinlan will determine the winner of this game

 

How do They Win
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
– The Rouge et Or do not have a great passing offence but they can make up for this with Frederic Plesius and Arnaud Gascon-Nadon pressuring Kyle Quinlan to take him off of his game and give the offence a chance to get a lead

 

48th Vanier Cup:
McMaster Marauders 34 – 28 Laval Rouge et Or
– The key to this game will be Kyle Quinlan and the performance he has because he will be the person who can lead the Marauders to a repeat and end Laval’s chance which he will do as he will take advantage of the 13th ranked passing defence of the Rouge et Or to end his university career as a champion

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