Congratulations to the Western Mustangs football team, who were deservedly named Male Team of the Year by Ontario University Athletics last night at the 2017-18 OUA Honour Awards. It is a fitting final chapter, to a storybook season by the Mustangs.
Western captured their first Vanier Cup in over 20 years in 2017-2018, their seventh overall; and collected a record 31st Yates Cup en route to doing so.
They were dominant throughout. They steamrolled through the regular season going 8-0 and outscoring their opponents by a ridiculous margin of 386 to 105. That’s an average score of 48-13 and translates to the Mustangs outscoring their opponents to the tune of 7 touchdowns to 2 each week. Other than Guelph taking them to overtime in Game 2, there was nary a hiccup along the way.
That same Guelph team got squashed in the OUA semi-final. The Gryphons were outclassed 66-12 by the Mustangs at TD Stadium, earning Western a berth in the Yates Cup against Laurier, and a shot at redemption as the Golden Hawks defeated them 43-40 in the 2016-2017 Yates Cup.
Despite holding the Mustangs fairly close in their 29-13 regular season match-up, Western was playing at a completely different level, and embarrassed the Golden Hawks 75-32 to the delight of the London crowd. Cedric Joseph was dominant with 250 yards rushing on only 20 carries, with three touchdowns. That gave Joseph a ridiculous seven touchdowns in two playoff games, and the Mustangs their OUA best 31st Yates Cup.
That set up a national date with Acadia, in Western’s first UTECK Bowl appearance since 2010. The Axemen came into the game on a very short week, after a controversial ruling, and then reversal, that originally disqualified Saint Mary’s. Acadia ultimately defeated Saint Mary’s 45-38 in the Loney Bowl, putting them in the Uteck Bowl against Western.
Like the two teams before them in the Mustangs path, the Axemen were destroyed. Completely. Western scored on their first eight drives for a whopping 57-0 half-time lead, on their way to a record breaking 81-3 dismantling of Acadia. The Mustangs had almost 700 yards of total offence (689), including a preposterous 451 yards rushing. Western’s running backs scored SIX times, including 3 more from Joseph, to give him 10 in the playoffs. Western’s 81 points was the most points ever scored in a national semifinal.
Could the mighty defending champion, number one ranked Laval Rouge et Or, derail the purple and white in the 53rd Vanier Cup?
Not even close. Almost 600 more yards of offense (578), and a balanced offence led by Western’s quarterback Chris Merchant, gave the Mustangs a convincing 39-17 victory, and their seventh National title. Merchant was the Ted Morris Trophy winner as the Vanier Cup’s most valuable player, Joseph added two more touchdowns to give him an existential 12 in 4-playoff games, and Greg Marshall collected his first ever Vanier Cup win as a head coach after 18 seasons.
They outscored their opponents 261-64 in four playoff games; combined with their 386 in the regular season, that’s 655 points in a 12-0 season.
The OUA Honour Awards naming the Mustangs the Male Team of the Year is a great achievement.
An achievement befitting a football team that, as time passes, will likely be considered one of the most dominant teams in Canadian University football history.