Facing each other for the third time in two seasons—and the second time in the last two playoffs—the Mustangs and Windsor Lancers are no strangers to each other. As they both walk onto the field at T.D. Waterhouse Stadium on Saturday, they will be looking at familiar faces across the line, but don’t think there will be any love lost between the two sides.
Last year, in the Ontario University Athletics semifinal, the Mustangs defeated the Lancers 33–27, ending their playoff journey. The Lancers’ fortunes versus the Mustangs did not improve in their regular season encounter with them this year, as they again fell, 43–26. Now, in the first round of the OUA playoffs, the two teams will square off again.
Western finished the season with a record of 5–3, in fourth place. Windsor took fifth place with a record 3–5 after losing to Waterloo last Saturday.
“I think the big thing is that we’re going to have to score early,” Joe D’Amore, Lancers coach, commented. “Last time [against Western], we didn’t get going until about the fourth quarter. We know that we’re going to have to play some good football to come away with a victory.”
The Mustangs are entering the playoffs after a close contest with Ottawa, which they won 32–29. With regular starting quarterback Donnie Marshall still out with an ankle injury, Will Finch will once again get the call. Finch has performed well this season, averaging just over nine yards per attempt. In the game against Ottawa, Finch proved he could move the ball with his legs as well, running for 136 yards to complement his 168 through the air.
As is usually the case, Windsor will have to think about the constant threat posed by the Mustangs’ running game. ‘Stangs running back Garret Sanvido leads the OUA in touchdowns with 13 and in rushing yards with 1001. The Mustangs will have another good option in Yannick Harou, who played running back for the entirety of the game against Ottawa.
Though Sanvido did not play in last Saturday’s game, Mustangs head coach Greg Marshall says it is likely that he will start against Windsor.
“Garret will most likely play, but were not one hundred per cent sure,” Marshall said.
Look for Western to mix it up on offence, as Finch has had a good deal of success connecting with receivers Matt Uren, Brian Marshall, Justin Sanvido and Matt Brazier.
Windsor’s offence will be powered primarily by standout quarterback Austin Kennedy. The Windsor native leads the OUA in completions, total yards, and is second in touchdowns thrown with 18. While Kennedy is one of the league’s premier slingers, he is capable of cold streaks, demonstrated in Windsor’s showdown with Western during the regular season.
Western will also have to watch out for Windsor’s top receivers in Jordan Brescacin and Evan Pszczonak, who have combined for nearly 1700 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.
“We believe Windsor is a very good football team, an explosive team that has the ability to score points,” Marshall said. “Anytime you have a quarterback that can throw the ball and move around like Austin Kennedy can, and you have receivers like they have, you’ll score points.”
“It’s going to be difficult to keep their quarterback and their receivers contained for 60 minutes,” he continued.
You can catch the decisive match-up at Western’s T.D. Waterhouse Stadium tomorrow at 1 p.m.