It’s the biggest game of the year for the York University Lions football team as the squad hosts the rival University of Toronto Varsity Blues in both the 48th annual Red & Blue Bowl and the annual Homecoming game, presented by MBNA, at Alumni Field.
Kick-off is set for 1pm on Saturday afternoon (Sept. 23) and the game can also be seen live online on OUA.tv. Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate on game day.
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 30-17 head-to-head record over their uptown counterparts since the first meeting in 1970, and has won eight of the last nine since York won 12 in a row from 1996-07. The Blues won by a score of 45-18 at Varsity Centre last year.
“It’s always exciting to have your city rival come and play you, especially at home. I’m excited to have our guys go out there and make something happen,” said Head Coach Warren Craney. “We used our bye week to get healthy after having several starters on offence out of the line-up previously. We thought we deserved a better fate against Ottawa in our last game and this group is angry. We are going to channel that anger and focus it on Toronto.”
The Lions will also be honouring alumni at their annual Homecoming game in a special season, as 2017 represents the 50th year of football at York.
They will be looking to build on a strong showing in their most recent contest before last week’s bye, when they took the No. 9 nationally ranked University of Ottawa Gee-Gees to the wire before a 26-17 loss. They are 0-3 on the season, just behind the 1-3 Varsity Blues. Toronto is coming off a 43-6 loss to the Guelph University Gryphons last week and earned its lone win over the University of Windsor Lancers in Week 2.
The Lions will look to use their running game to punish the Varsity Blues. Third-year rusher Jesse Amankwaa, the OUA rookie of the year in 2015, is coming off a tremendous showing against the Gee-Gees in which he amassed 159 yards on 23 carries and added another 22 yards and a touchdown on two receptions. Fellow rusher Kayden Johnson set a Red & Blue Bowl record last year with 32 carries and, along with Amankwaa, represents a strong ground attack.
Quarterback Brett Hunchak is ranked seventh in the OUA with 224 yards per game and has thrown a pair of touchdowns on the season, both against Ottawa. His counterpart on the other side of the field, Toronto’s Connor Ennis, sits 10th with 97 yards per game.
After Saturday’s game, the Lions will be on the road in Hamilton, Ont., next weekend to face the nationally ranked McMaster University Marauders and then will host their final home game of the season on Thursday, Oct. 5 against the reigning OUA champion the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks at Alumni Field.