As far as I’m concerned, the Huskies run one of the best shows in the CIS. But there’s a little bit of a problem — I’m now a student at the University of Regina.
Rams and Cougars now surround me.
So there I was Friday night at Griffiths Stadium getting ready to watch the Huskies play the Rams in a big time Canada West showdown. But who do I cheer for? My alma mater? Or the university that I now find myself attending? It didn’t take long to make my decision. And I’m glad I picked the Huskies because it wasn’t even close. The final was 52-29 and that flattered Regina.
If you’ve been to a Huskies football game recently you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention the pre-game hoopla that goes on; it’s an incredible spectacle. From fireworks, flashing lights and inflatable dogs to flag-waving cheerleaders, it’s hard not to feel the energy in that stadium. Then again, if I were the opposition I would wonder what the hell is going on. There isn’t another place in the Canada West that comes close to what happens at a Huskies football game.
So what do the Rams do? They come onto the field and run right over top of the Dogs logo at midfield. They don’t move. That’s when it all went wrong.
In sports you should never give your opponent any more motivation to beat you than they already have coming into the game.
Let’s be honest: the Huskies hate the Rams, the Rams hate the Huskies. So the Rams continue to stand on the Huskies logo, outrun the Huskies and it’s a big mess at midfield. The teams start pushing and shoving each other even before the game starts. You better believe emotions were running high. It was typical Regina gamesmanship.
And what made it worse is that Regina’s controversial bench boss, Frank McCrystal, stood on the sidelines watching his team stomp on the Dogs logo. He should have had them on the sidelines focusing on the next 60 minutes of football.
At that moment I remembered why I cheer for the Huskies. There’s a level of respect this program has for itself and opponents that make them a class act. There’s no cheap shots, no pre-meditated, pre-game gamesmanship, nothing. They just play hard. And it paid off.
Just four minutes into the game Dathan Thomas rumbled into the end zone for the Huskies. Regina had an answer just a minute later as Rams quarterback Marc Mueller dove into the end zone from one yard out to make the score 7-7. That’s as close as it would get. Five touchdowns later the Dogs were embarrassing the logo-stamping Rams 35-7. That’s what the score was at halftime and for all intents and purposes it was game over.
Too many mental errors, unnecessary penalties and untimely turnovers once again haunted a Rams team that just can’t seem to catch-up with the Huskies football program. The Huskies hit harder, play with more heart and focus, and are atop of the Canada West standings for the fifth time in the past eight seasons.
This may not be the most talented Huskies football we’ve seen over the past decade but something has to be said about the way this team — emphasis on team — rallies around each other. Just a short time ago the Dogs were 1-2 and many were wondering what was going on. Five wins later, it looks as if the Dogs are well on their way to another successful post-season run.
Regina will now head out on the road and face the Calgary Dinos in one Canada West semi-final, while the Huskies will host the Alberta Golden Bears. I can only hope that these two teams meet again because Huskies quarterback Laurence Nixon said this past meeting was the most intense game he’s played in a Huskies uniform.
image: Pete Yee