Stingers look to reach next level

In the last few seasons, the Concordia Stingers appeared to be treading water. The rebuilding process has had them stand pat with back-to-back 4-5 seasons in 2010 and 2011, following a 3-5 season in 2009. Although, their 4-5 record last year was enough for a playoff spot, they were bounced 33-7 by the Laval Rouge et Or.

Not everything has come together for Concordia. The defence was the strongest unit for the team, as players like Max Caron, Kris Robertson and Nathan Taylor stepped up for the Stingers. Caron led the CIS with 78.5 tackles and led the nation in solo tackles. He added five interceptions, including three returned for touchdowns, to that lead. Last year, he was awarded the Presidents’ Trophy as the outstanding defensive player in the CIS.

Kris Robertson continuously made great plays on defense and was a constant spark returning kicks. He averaged 24.4 yards per return and scored two touchdowns on special teams. Robertson said he feels the veteran Stingers need to lead the way in order for the team to not only make the playoffs again, but to enjoy success in the post-season.

“This year we have all the necessary tools to do big things,” he explained. “It’s on us vets to make sure we get there. We just need to be unified and I believe the sky is the limit.”

Safety Nathan Taylor said that while it’s the offence’s job to score points, it’s the defence’s job to make it easier and set things up.

“We need to make more plays and create more turnovers on defence,” said Taylor. “We need to help the offence get good field position whenever possible.”

The units will have to help each other, with the defence getting quick stops and the offence needing to keep the ball moving.

Quarterback Reid Quest took over mid-season for Terrance Morsink in 2011. He now enters the season as the full-fledged starter, and as usual, things will have to start with the quarterback.

“We need to sustain drives, get first downs and wear down opposing defences,” Quest said. “If we can do that, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”

For Concordia to truly have a chance at success and get past the first round, they’ll need to overcome the tougher teams in the conference. They lost to Laval and Sherbrooke twice, and 36-1 against the Montréal Carabins last season. While it’s a near-impossibility to beat the Rouge et Or, as they’ve proven year after year, the Stingers at least need to overcome the other two teams that finished above them in 2011. After all, getting to the playoffs won’t mean much if they’ll be easily beat in the first round.

The Stingers have not won a playoff game in four years, and they’ll no doubt want to change that this season. Failure to do so only means that they haven’t progressed since last season. At the very least, they’ll have to be more competitive with the tougher teams of the QUFL.

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