It’s rivalry week for the York University Lions football team as the squad prepares to travel downtown to the University of Toronto to face the Varsity Blues in the 47th annual Red & Blue Bowl at Varsity Centre.
There’s more on the line than just a win in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings, as football supremacy in the City of Toronto is also up for grabs. The Lions are looking to reclaim the Argo Cup for the first time since 2012, when they upended the Varsity Blues 36-24 at Varsity Centre. Toronto holds a 29-17 head-to-head record over their uptown counterparts since the first meeting in 1970 and has won seven of the past eight since York won 12 in a row from 1996-2007.
The Blues won by a score of 40-3 at York Stadium last year.
The Lions enter Saturday’s contest riding a wave of momentum after a 2-1 start to the year, including a big 56-32 victory over the Windsor Lancers on home turf last weekend. The Varsity Blues, meanwhile, are 0-3 after a tough schedule to start the season that has seen them face three straight nationally ranked opponents in Guelph, McMaster and Carleton. They are averaging just 11.3 points per game while allowing 46 points per game.
The addition of new offensive coordinator Kyle Quinlan has paid immediate dividends for the Lions. The squad is currently averaging 501.3 yards per game, compared to just 343.6 last year, and has averaged 38.7 points per game, more than double the 15.1 from one season ago. The player who has benefited the most is second-year quarterback Brett Hunchak (Calgary), who has already thrown for 980 passing yards and eight touchdowns, and is the OUA offensive player of the week for the second time in three weeks.
The Lions also have two players ranked among the top seven in the OUA in receiving yards per game – Colton Hunchak (Calgary) is fourth with 108.7 and Adam Adeboboye (Toronto) is seventh with 99.7 – and two running backs with more than 135 yards this season in reigning OUA rookie of the year Jesse Amankwaa (Etobicoke, Ont.) and rookie Kayden Johnson (Kerrobert, Sask.).
U of T quarterback Marcus Hobbs, who took over the starting job this year after the graduation of Simon Nassar, is averaging 200 passing yards per game but has thrown five interceptions and is still looking for his first touchdown. The Blues’ leading receiver is Rahul Madan, who sits ninth in the OUA with 84.7 yards per game.
The Lions will next be in action at home the following weekend for their annual Homecoming game, where they will welcome the nationally ranked Carleton Ravens to Alumni Field for the first time. Kickoff is set for 1pm on Saturday, Sept. 24.