Despite the loss, the Concordia Stingers’ football team has an exciting season ahead with a young roster.
Despite falling 18-26 to the University of Montreal Carabins in Concordia’s home opener, the Stingers have a lot to look forward to as the new season kicked off at the Concordia Stadium on Saturday.
The Stingers’ slow start cost them the game, especially with the Carabins’ sharp early rushing, ending the first quarter with 10 rushes for 95 yards, finishing the game with 31 rushes totalling 157 yards, as opposed to Concordia’s game total of 16 rushes for 77 yards.
After two touchdowns and successful kick attempts, the Carabins led 14-0 one minute into the second quarter.
2021 U Sports Rookie of the Year, slotback Jaylan Greaves, said the team needs to work on their slow starts in the first and third quarters.
“It’s been a couple of times, even last year and this year, we started off slow,” he said. “We just need to come out with the juice at the end of certain quarters.”
Nerves are higher at the beginning of the season – especially with such a young Stingers roster that’s still learning – a precursor for their slow starts. However, with 15 rookies and 23 players in their sophomore year, this youthful core makes for an exciting season ahead.
“We’re a young team so it’s good to see everybody mesh,” said Greaves.
Quarterback Olivier Roy, who’s in his third year at Concordia, said he was excited to see his teammates, especially the new ones.
“It feels great to be out there… but at the beginning of the year the execution is always a bit lower than expected so I think we need to work on that,” he added.
The second quarter was a lot better for the Stingers as they found their footing, scoring a touchdown via a pass from Roy to slotback Jacob Salvail for 12 yards. Kicker Ali El Sehemawi’s successful kick attempt put Concordia within eight points of tying the game. He later scored a field goal and put the Stingers five points away from a tie after halftime.
Montreal came back swinging in the third quarter and solidified a 24-10 lead. Starting the final quarter with a safety, it looked difficult for Concordia to recover. But the team managed to get back up on their feet. A sequence totalling eleven plays and 95 yards later, they scored a touchdown and ran a successful play for a two point conversion. Although Montreal’s 26-18 lead was enough to win them the game, the Stingers held their ground and the defence did a good job to stop Montreal’s later chances.
Head coach Brad Collinson said he liked his players’ character in the game, especially near the end, by not allowing the Carabins to score in the fourth quarter. Collinson also said it was great to have wide receiver Jeremy Murphy back, who only played four games last season because of a torn hamstring.
“I was really nervous at first because it feels like it’s been forever,” Murphy said. “But the second I got hit once, it was back to normal.”
“It was fun to see him (Murphy) back in his happy place, playing, catching footballs, getting yards,” Collinson said. “He had a great competition in front of him today and I think he answered the bell.”
Murphy will be looking forward to his progression throughout the entire year, to “keep on going up and up, week in, week out, and performing better on the field every time,” he said.
Other than their slow starts, the players all look to improve different areas of their game. For Greaves, it’s about the finishing on scoring opportunities and playing physical for the entire game.
The Stingers will have a chance to improve their play and execute it better in their next game on Sept. 3, at Sherbrooke against the Vert & Or. But they’re all happy to be back on the field.
“It felt good to get the pads on, play against another team other than our defence. It felt good but we just could’ve played better,” Greaves said, emphasizing that they need to play better throughout 60 minutes.