CIS Football Report (Week 1)

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Opening week is always an interesting one as this is the only time where teams and fans get to truly see what they have.

There is always plenty of talk surrounding teams before the season as to who might be the best team.

Most of the time in university football that is all about the previous seasons and the incoming recruiting class.

There can be as much talk as anybody wants but in reality, unpredictability usually reigns in sports.

That is even truer in university sports as anything can happen at any point in time that changes a season.

Recruiting classes can be far better or worse than what people expect and last year rarely has any bearing on what happens this year.

Still, in university sports, it can be slightly more predictable with strong programs usually getting the best teams in the country year after year.

Success does breed more success in the CIS but every year players and coaches return for a new season looking to either make sure that success continues or end the issues that they have had for years.

Training camps can provide a little insight into the potential of teams but there is no test out there like the test of a regular season game.

For the OUA that test came in Week 1 when they officially began their regular season for the 2016 season.

The teams in the OUA got their first true test of where they stand in the league and for some teams it was a wake-up call.

Some teams found out that they are still far from competing with the best teams in the division.

Others found out that they are exactly where they wanted to be in beating teams that everyone expected them to beat.

The more interesting part of the first week though are the games where teams made a statement in telling everyone that they are ready to compete.

These are the games that put everyone on notice as they are the games that make people notice.

In the first week of the 2016 season, there was one of those games as the York Lions made sure people were paying attention to their program.

To start their season the Lions were ready to take on the Waterloo Warriors.

The game ended with the Lions on top 57-13 in a big win that started off the York season with the right note.

In most cases, this game is not a wake-up call for anyone as the Warriors have regularly been near the bottom of the division ever since a doping scandal took a full season of the program.

They are still not recovered and they are not a team that has been tough to beat for many teams in the division.

What makes this win special though is where the Lions are coming from as a program.

They were constantly the worst team in Ontario with their match-up against their cross-town rivals nicknamed the “Toilet Bowl” for the fact that whoever won that game would get their first and likely only win of the season.

They have been a better team over the last few years but they are still not a team that competes for the top of the division.football-sidebar

When they got set to play Waterloo they were expected to win although it was not supposed to be a massive blowout.

Putting up 57 points against the Warriors was the type of win that the Lions have not seen for a long time.

More often than not they have been on the other side of these games allowing massive scores rather than putting the big scores up themselves.

The Lions have now shown that they can put up these numbers but they have plenty of questions to answer.

The biggest one might just be whether or not that score was more to do with them or with the Warriors.

Everyone in the OUA will be watching closely to see just what the Lions have.

If they can prove that this was a sign of things to come they might be competing with the top teams and could find themselves in the playoffs at the end of the season.

If it was a fluke than the Lions will once again sink to the bottom against better competition and not much will have changed for the legendary program.

Only time will tell but York has certainly sent a message for the start of the year that they hope to continue this season.

They will look to be joined as the CanWest and RSEQ conferences begin their pursuit of a Vanier Cup next weekend with more than a few teams looking to send a message.

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Key Scores:
Laurier Golden Hawks 37-18 Queen’s Gaels
– The Golden Hawks sent their own statement in the first week beating a team that many thought could be a top team this year as the Gaels fell short of expectations and dropped their first game of the year

Guelph Gryphons 41-22 Toronto Varsity Blues
– Every year the Varsity Blues look to launch a new season and bring the legendary program back to greatness but it is tough against one of the top teams in the country as the Gryphons showed why they are considered a favourite to win the OUA

York Lions 57-13 Waterloo Warriors
– The Lions made a massive statement in putting up 57 points in their first game while the Warriors continue to struggle since being punished for a doping scandal dropping another game to open the season

McMaster Marauders 40-10 Carleton Ravens
– The Ravens were a big surprise last year when they earned a playoff spot in the OUA in only their second year as a program but they might not be ready to do it in another year as the Marauders easily got past Carleton

Next Week:
Calgary Dinos vs. Manitoba Bisons (Thursday, September 1st; 7:00 pm CDT)
– The Dinos are looking to start off their year with a big win that can help them get back to the top but they will need to take on the team that knocked them off two years ago in the Bisons who hope to show that they are still one of the best in the west

Montreal Carabins vs. Laval Rouge et Or (Saturday, September 3rd; 7:00 pm EDT)
– Neither Montreal nor Laval will get to start their season off with an easy match-up as the best rivalry in the country gets underway in the first week of the RSEQ as this game could turn out to be big at the end of the year

Alberta Golden Bears vs. UBC Thunderbirds (Saturday, September 3rd; 8:00 pm CDT)
– The T-Birds begin their title defence against the Golden Bears in a game that they should win but with a bad pre-season there are questions about whether or not they can find their way back to the Vanier which they will try to prove wrong in their first week

York Lions vs. Laurier Golden Hawks (Monday, September 5th; 7:30 pm EDT)
– The Lions started their season in good fashion after taking a big opening week win but what can they do in week two when they take on another team that earned a big win in the first week of the season

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