The 2012 edition of the McMaster Marauders racked up all kinds of numbers.
Yet, there’s two numbers they never want to hear again: 37 and 14.
Those two numbers represented the score of the 48th Vanier Cup, played last November at Rogers Center in Toronto.
The Laval Rouge et Or beat the Marauders 37-14 in the national championship.
The big question heading into the 2013 season is, will McMaster be able to come close to duplicating what they did offensively last year?
Led by Hec Crighton award winner, quarterback Kyle Quinlan, the Marauders were first in the OUA, and second in the CIS in three offensive categories during the regular season: points per game (45), total yards per game (582) and passing yards per game (370.)
Defensively, they led the OUA in yards allowed per game (340), and rushing yards allowed (104.)
Quinlan graduated this spring, but hasn’t left the Marauders. He chose not to attend Montreal Alouettes training camp and will stay with the Marauders as running back coach.
At first blush, his numbers will be hard to replace. In the regular season, he completed 69 per cent of his passes, for a game average of 307 yards, with 19 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran, almost at will, with 172 yards and 3 majors.
Quinlan’s back-up for the last two seasons, will be the starter in 2013. Marshall Ferguson, a Kingston native, completed 38-54 passes for 482 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Ferguson spent time at the Calgary Stampeders training camp this spring, and he’ll surprise those that haven’t seen him play, with his accurate arm and football sense.
Ferguson will have a plethora of receivers to throw the ball to. Mike DiCroce, who missed several weeks in the 2012 season with a foot injury, is back after spending time with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He’ll be joined by Ben O’Connor, Max Cameron, Joshua Vandeweerd and Tyler Loveday, among others.
The Marauders were dealt another blow in the off-season, when running back Chris Pezzetta, re-injured the knee that caused him to miss all of last season.
Kesean Davis-Reynolds, will carry the bulk of the load at running back. In five regular season games, he had 56 carries for 460 yard and two touchdowns. Davis-Reynolds has bulked up and gotten stronger in the off-season, which he feels will make him even tougher to bring down. He’ll be joined by Jimmy Hill, Wayne Moore and Kingsley Amankwaa.
The Mac offensive line received a huge boost, when Matt Sewell chose to come back to Mac to play his final year, and forego a chance to play with the Toronto Argonauts.
The defence will have a different look this year. The new co-ordinator is former Argo and Tiger-Cat linebacker Kevin Eiben. The big name that is missing is defensive end Ben D’Augilar, who was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders. D’Augilar has twelve sacks in the regular season.
Eiben has played a 30 defence in his CFL days, and if he chooses to go that route, the defensive backs will be tested.
The good news there, is all the starters are expected to return: corners Joey Cupido and Steve Ventresca, halfbacks Allan Dicks and Steven Dennis and safety Michael Daly.
The linebacking core is solid, led by Aram Eisho and Nick Shorthill.
Adam Dickson is set to have a monster year at nose tackle.
Last year, the Marauders were 11-0 before the Vanier Cup, and were riding a CIS-record 21-game overall winning streak dating back to Week 3 of the 2011 season. While the loss to Laval stung badly, it also motivated them in the off-season.
And, from all indications, no reason they can’t start a fresh streak, when they play the season opener, Sunday, August 25 against Ottawa.
The Marauders open training camp, Thursday, August 15, at 8:00 am. All practices will be held at Ron Joyce Stadium.
All games will be heard on AM900 CHML.
Sun. Aug 25th Home to Ottawa 4pm
Mon. Sept. 2nd @ Queens 2pm
Sat. Sept. 7th Home to Western 1pm
Sat. Sept 14th Home to York 1pm
Sat. Sept 21st @ Guelph 1pm
Sat. Oct. 5th Home to Waterloo 1pm (Homecoming)
Sat. Oct. 12th @ Laurier 1pm
Sat. Oct. 19th @ Carleton 1pm