Where do the Concordia Stingers rank at this point in the season?
With the second half of the 2021 RSEQ football season underway, the Stingers (3-2) are in third place situated behind the powerhouse first place Montreal Carabins (4-1) and the second place Laval Rouge et Or (4-2), with the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (2-4) and McGill Redbirds (1-5) in the fourth and fifth place spots respectively.
Right now, the standings are an honest indication of the overall power rankings for the league. With the Carabins, the Rouge et Or, and the Stingers holding the top three spots, it is without a doubt that these three teams will be battling it out for the top seed. While the power rankings may label these teams in first, second, and third, the statistics suggest the rankings are much closer than they appear.
The Montreal Carabins are the team to beat and top the list coming off a bye-week. The team’s only loss was against the Stingers 31-28 in a dramatic come-from-behind win. The other close game for the Carabins came against Laval, where Montreal squeaked by with a one-point victory 18-17. Otherwise, the Carabins have balled out with three double-digit wins: two against Sherbrooke and one against McGill. The Carabins also rank third in total offence and first in total defence. With impressive numbers on both sides of the ball, this multi-dimensional team has been successful for now but is being chased down by two teams who are breathing down their necks.
The Laval Rouge et Or officially find themselves in second place, but arguably one could make the case that they are still the best team in the RSEQ. Besides their narrow defeat to Montreal, Laval suffered an upset loss against Sherbrooke 23-17, giving up 20 points to the Vert et Or in the second quarter alone. Otherwise, Laval tends to dominate; they’re used to double-digit victories, with the most significant being the 55-2 smackdown they laid on McGill in week five of the season.
Laval is the contemporary juggernaut of the RSEQ: their defence is sound, ranking second in total defence, and most notably, ranking first in interceptions and passing defensive efficiency. If the Montreal Carabins are a multi-dimensional team, the Rouge et Or are no slouches either: Laval ranks second in total offence, first in rushing offence, and first in first downs with 140. It’s fair to say, Laval can find ways to win on both sides of the ball.
If there’s any team muscling their way in this playoff race, it’s the Concordia Stingers. This team seems to be improving with each week — ever-evolving and generating momentum, which has garnered them success. Despite a disappointing 36-10 loss to Laval on Sunday, Stingers starting quarterback Olivier Roy went from his first attempted pass of the season being intercepted, to breaking the single-game RSEQ passing yards record in the span of a month. The Stingers tout a stellar offence that tends to do its best work in the second half, which has granted them their dramatic come-from-behind victories.
One area Concordia needs to improve on to obtain the top seed, it would be their defence. Ranked fourth in total defence, fifth in rushing defence, and fourth in passing defence, the Stingers have given up an average of 445 yards per game. If the Stingers want to carry their momentum into the second half of the season, they’ll need to resolve their defensive issues.
This leaves the Sherbrooke Vert et Or and the McGill Redbirds in the fourth and fifth place slots, respectively. Sherbrooke has doled out a few upsets in an otherwise less-than-stellar first half of the season. With a win against Laval, and having gone toe-to-toe in a shootout with Concordia in week four, Sherbrooke can play heartbreaker for whichever playoff contender is yearning for that top seed.
As for the McGill Redbirds, the team’s losing record doesn’t reflect how solid their defensive core truly is. The Redbirds rank high in many defensive categories, including second in pass defence and first in sacks with 17. If it weren’t for their shaky offence, which could only register 22 points in their last three games — including a 21-13 loss to Sherbrooke on Saturday — the Redbirds would be sitting in a better position standings-wise.
After a lengthy hiatus between seasons due to the pandemic, it has been quite an eventful season, and fans can expect many more thrilling games to come.
Photograph by Catherine Reynolds