The York University Lions football team will play the final game of their season on Saturday when they make a short trip south to battle their cross-town rivals, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, in the 49th edition of the Red and Blue Bowl.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium and the game can also be seen online at OUA.tv.
York University will be looking to bounce back after a home loss to the Carleton University Ravens last week. After falling behind 18-0 early in the game, the Lions made a spirited comeback effort in the second half, but it was not enough as they fell to the Ravens by a score of 35-20. After a rough start, the Lions defence held strong against the Ravens and the team pulled within three points to make the score 20-17 after three quarters. The Ravens had a bit more left in the tank and pulled away in the fourth quarter to clinch the victory. The loss eliminated the Lions from the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoff picture and they head into Week 9 with a 2-5 record on the season.
The Lions’ Toronto counterparts come into the game looking to avenge their loss at last season’s Red and Blue Bowl, as the Varsity Blues fell to the Lions by a score of 41-16. The Blues are also in search of their first win on the 2018 season, as they have an 0-7 record and find themselves in 11th place in the OUA standings. Despite their record, Toronto has played some good football in close games this season, losing 38-26 to the Ravens in Week 5 and 26-24 to the Windsor University Lancers in Week 6. The Lions will need to be on their game this week, as the Blues are hungry for a win and will be game to try and wrestle the Argo Cup back from their city rivals.
“U of T has been in a lot of great football games this year,” said Lions head coach Warren Craney on his team’s Week 9 matchup. “Greg Marshall’s a really good head coach and he’s going to have his team ready. As far as our guys are concerned, we have to channel our anger from the loss last week into winning the battle of Toronto. We’re currently holding onto the Argo Cup from last year and we want to keep it, so we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that happens.”
One of the Lions’ bright spots over the past few weeks has been running back Kayden Johnson, who seems to be getting stronger as the season progresses. York’s reigning male athlete of the year has put up his two best rushing games of the year over the past two games, racking up a season-high 90 yards on 11 carries in Week 6 and 64 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown last week. On the season, Johnson has rushed 80 times for 346 yards and three touchdowns and has also set a career-high with 14 receptions for 141 yards.
For the past two games, the Varsity Blues offence has been led by junior quarterback Vince Luccisano, who took over midway through their Week 7 game against the Ottawa Gee-Gees. Luccisano started his first career game last week against the University of Guelph Gryphons and completed 20 of 32 passes for 262 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. Luccisano is the Blues’ third starting quarterback this season as they search for a solution on an offence that has scored a league-low 107 points on the season.
The season finale will mark the final game in uniform for York’s 12 graduating players this season, as wide receivers Eric Kimmerly, Chris Mote, Vincent Reale, Joey Ricottone and Nicholas Voci, tight end Nikola Kalinic, full back Gautham Rajendra, offensive lineman Anthony Dinardo, linebacker Ian Lawrence, and defensive backs Brett Colangelo, Malik Langston and Rees Paterson will all be wearing York red for the last time. The players were honoured in a pregame ceremony prior to the Lions Homecoming game, which ended in a thrilling 34-32 victory over the University of Waterloo Warriors in Week 6.
The Varsity Blues hold the edge over the Lions all-time with a 31-17 record in the Red and Blue Bowl. The Lions’ most successful stretch in the rivalry was from 1996-2007, when they held the Argo Cup for 12 straight seasons.
The Red and Blue Bowl will also double as York’s first Ride Subway Series event of the year. All students are welcome to attend, and all attendees will receive free food, gifts and TTC tokens. There is limited space available and those interested must sign up at yorkulions.ca/subwayseries or at the client services desk at the Tait McKenzie Centre.