The Concordia Stingers opened their 2002 football season about a month ago on Aug. 26, with a 46-17 drubbing of the University of Montreal Carabins, the new squad in the QIFC who have some tough times ahead.
Here we are, one month later, and the Stingers have already played half of their regular season.
Four games in seventeen days. This is pretty much unheard of in football, but the Maroon and Gold have been forced to suck it up.
And they have.
Despite their ordinary 2-2 record, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Offensively, the Stingers are averaging just over 31 points a game while on the other side of the ball, they have surrendered an average slightly below 19 points per contest.
In addition, the quarterback and his receivers are faring better than in past years: Jon Bond, the team’s new pivot, has already thrown nine touchdown passes.
Despite his fair 51.9 completion percentage, his presence has given the Stingers’ offence new life.
In addition, to his 891 passing yards so far this season, he is spreading the work among his receivers, having completed passes to no less than ten of his targets.
Credit for the revamped offence can also go to coach Gerry McGrath, who took on the additional duties of offensive co-ordinator, following Pat Gregory’s departure to handle the quarterbacks at U of M.
The job is nothing new for McGrath, as he was the offensive co-ordinator during Pat Sheehan’s tenure as head coach of the Stingers.
The defence is also looking solid, with the 37 points surrendered in their last game against Acadia, their only sub-par performance.
Prior to the first touchdown they surrendered in the Acadia game, the Stingers’ “D” had gone five-plus quarters without allowing a touchdown.
Now, with four games to go in the season, a first place finish in the QIFC is well within reach, but that means that the Stingers will have to win at least three of their next four games to have a serious shot of attaining that coveted spot.
This Saturday, they head to Lennoxville to take on the Bishop’s Gaiters, who took it on the chin at Concordia Stadium three weeks ago, in a 46-4 pummelling by the Maroon and Gold.
Things will likely not be as easy this time as Bishop’s will eagerly be seeking revenge on their home turf.
Oct. 5 is another date to mark on your calendar.
The Stingers will play host to the McGill Redmen, in the annual Shrine Bowl game.
Since this will be the only game this year pitting Concordia against McGill, thE Shaughnessy Cup will also be up for grabs on this day.
Another key game will follow at Concordia Stadium a week later, when the Laval Rouge et Or will ride into town for a Thanksgiving weekend rematch.
Laval edged the Stingers 20-14 in Quebec City back on Labour Day.
Things will not get any easier in their final game of the season as the Stingers will head to Halifax to take on the Vanier Cup Champions St.Mary’s Huskies in their second inter-conference game of the year.
If the first half of this Stingers 2002 campaign is of any indication, they will be up to the challenge.