VANIER CUP PREVIEW
The Calgary Dinos and Montreal Carabins get set to go head to head in the 55th Vanier Cup.
By Mike Still
The Calgary Dinos (8-2) will have the opportunity to exact some revenge on the RSEQ conference this Saturday when they battle the Montreal Carabins (8-2) for the Vanier Cup.
Calgary is back in the big game for the third time since 2010, however each of their last three attempts (2016, 2013, 2010) for a national title have been stymied by Laval.
This year, Calgary, led by defending Hec Crighton winner Adam Singara and the second-ranked passing offence in the nation (322.4 yards per game), will once again have a chance to bring the school its first Vanier since 1995.
To do so, they will need to knock off a Carabins squad that is back in the national final for the first time since making back-to-back trips in 2014 and 2015, winning the former.
A consistent theme over the years for Montreal has been strong defensive play and that was no different in 2019. They’re second in the country in the regular season in both points per game (11.6) and total yards allowed (270.9) and were just as stout in the Dunsmore Cup against Laval and Uteck Bowl against Acadia, allowing a combined ten points including a shutout against the latter.
With that in mind, this year’s national final should feature an entertaining chess match of opposing styles. The Dinos receiving corps has gotten game-changers Hunter Karl and Tyson Philpot back for their playoff run and it has shown. The former – a 2019 CFL draft pick – can stretch the field and is capable of making a big play at any time while the latter was last season’s Rookie of the Year and will likely see touches as both a receiver as well as in the run game on motion plays.
However, it’s Tyson’s twin brother Jalen that’s done most of the damage for Calgary this year. He was the only receiver to play in every game for the Dinos and developed stellar chemistry with Sinagra. The conference all-star who was second in the conference in receiving in the regular season was at it again in the national semi-final with over 100 yards on seven grabs.
It’ll be up to a stout Montreal secondary to lock down these three receivers specifically. Look for unanimous conference all-star Marc-Antoine Dequoy, the Dunsmore Cup MVP who recorded an 85-yard pick six to seal the deal for the Carabins, to match up against Jalen for a significant amount of the game. He’ll need all of his 6’3” frame to close the distance against the speedster out of BC. Cornerback Jean-Sébastien Bélisle is another player who has stepped up in big games this year and will look to do so again.
Montreal’s offence has also come on strong in the last few weeks and includes a two-headed monster in the backfield, led by 5’10”, 213-pound third-year Reda Malki. The third-year went off for 160 yards on 15 carries in a windy game against Acadia and is capable of making a big play at any time, as is shifty 5’7” first-year Alexis Boulangé.
Look for the matchup between those two and athletic Dinos linebackers Charlie Moore and Grant McDonald – who were also teammates at South Delta – to be critical.
Additionally, 6’4” Kevin Kaya – the leading receiver in the RSEQ – can break a game open at any time. He moves around the formation quite a bit, and will needed to be locked down by a secondary that includes conference all-star/2018 All-Canadian Deane Leonard as well as CFL draft pick Nick Statz.
The Dinos run game has also come alive in the playoffs, as Robinson Rodrigues has looked comfortable after taking over in the regular season for CFL draft pick Jeshrun Antwi, who went down with a wrist injury. Rodrigues had over 100 yards in the national semi-final but will face a stout Carabins front seven that includes Benoît Marion and Brian Harelimana.
This post is also available in: French