Stung hard and reeling

What started off as a season filled with promise has taken a turn for the worse as the Concordia Stingers football team sits at 2-4 with three games left in the regular season.

The first of their upcoming games is against an improved McGill Redmen squad at Percival Molson Stadium, followed by a rematch against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, who dismantled the Stingers 46-6 on Saturday at Concordia Stadium. The final game of the season comes against the class of the RSEQ, the Laval Rouge et Or.

The only game that can be a predicted win is the McGill game. Though, even that will be a tough contest, as the Stingers offense was nowhere to be found against Sherbrooke, or against the Université de Montréal Carabins the week before, where the Stingers were shut out by a score of 38-0 by the latter.

Halfway through the 2012 campaign, we have a better understanding of how the team compares to the top schools in the province and, as it stands, Concordia’s football program is nowhere close to the rest.

There are plenty of talented players on this team, but they haven’t been able to put consistent efforts as a unit on a weekly basis. What’s up for debate is whether the team simply isn’t prepared going into games. This would either fall on Gerry McGrath and his coaching staff or solely on Concordia’s talent, which, while solid, is simply not up to par with Montréal’s, Sherbrooke’s or Laval’s.

The Montréal defensive line made mincemeat of the Stingers offensive line in the teams’ two games this season, teeing off on quarterback Reid Quest for a whopping 15 sacks combined, not to mention the hits Quest took after releasing the ball or scrambling for yards. However, they have allowed 21 total sacks on the season, suggesting that Montréal may simply have one of the more ferocious pass rushes in the country.

Quest, who started the season off well, has tailed off as of late, having thrown five interceptions in his last two games. Quest is not all to blame for several of the interceptions, as some were balls that his receivers were unable to contain, instead getting tipped and picked off. At the end of the day however, it shows up on his stat line, and he has admitted that he needed to a better job of taking care of the football.

The aforementioned receiving core is seriously missing Kris Bastien, who has been out with a shoulder injury that he suffered in the first game of the season (a game in which he caught 6 passes for 242 yards). The Stingers are trying to fill the void with Sanchez Deschamps, Mike Harrington, Jamal Henry, and Shayne Stinson, but having Bastien back in the lineup bolsters the entire receiving corps and brings a different dimension to the passing attack.

The running game has been average at best, averaging 108 yards a game, good for fifth in the six-team conference, but Michael Donnelly and Raul Thompson won’t be getting many touches if the team is always forced to play catch-up early in the games. When given the opportunity, Donnelly has been a solid running back, and the speedy Thompson has shown to be a good change-of-pace runner.

On the defensive side of the ball, things don’t get much better. The Stingers are giving up an average of 38 points a game, and currently rank last or second-to-last in pass defense, and rush defense, culminating in an average of nearly 500 yards against a game.

The unit has its bright spots, however. Linebackers Travis Bent and Max Caron, last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winner as the most outstanding defensive player in the country, are ranked third and fifth on the tackles list, respectively. Defensive end Quinn Smith is ranked fourth in the conference in sacks, with five in total.

Keegan Treloar has been solid in the kicking game, having hit on 11 of his 17 field goal attempts, while defensive backs Kris Robertson and Nathan Taylor have proven to be two of the most dynamic kick returners in the country, with Robertson handling kicks and punts and Taylor bringing back missed field goals.

Overall, it’s safe to say the season thus far has been a disappointment but the players know it, the coaches know it, and one would think that the school knows it, too. While the results haven’t completely tarnished the program’s reputation, the future does not bode well if the team cannot get their act together and give top-end recruits a reason to commit to Concordia.

The next three games are essentially do or die for the Stingers. Sufficient to say that if the downward spiral continues, there could be drastic changes made during the off-season.


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