The Varsity Blues football team ended their season on a high note with a 45–6 victory over the Waterloo Warriors. Toronto outplayed, outscored, and totally dominated their opponents on Saturday at Varsity Stadium.
The Blues kicked off the season with an impressive 2–1 start. Going into Saturday’s game, however, the team was riding a four-game losing streak and desperately needed something positive to carry into next year.
The victory over Waterloo was the final game for several key Blues players. The graduates included receivers Sebastian Magalas and Michael Prempeh, quarterback Andrew Gillis, defensive back Dorian Munroe, and linebacker Wilkerson DeSouza.
Neither side had any hope of making the playoffs — the Blues were knocked out of playoff contention with their loss to the Western Mustangs in week five, and the Warriors at 0–8 were never truly contenders. Nevertheless, it was a game of passion and drive as both teams attempted to bid their seniors farewell with a victory.
Toronto’s offense appeared to move beyond their struggles to drive the ball into the end zone at times this season, bulldozing through the Waterloo defense for three first-quarter touchdowns. The Blues, averaging nine points a game, had been outscored 3–58 in the first quarter before the game.
Refusing to revert to that pattern, Toronto held a 14–0 lead after 15 minutes. The first touchdown came from a Gillis 1-yard run, the final rushing touchdown of his Blues career. The second quickly followed, an 18-yard throw to third year receiver Paul de Pass, whose 51-yard catch and run set up the touchdown.
The Blues picked up where they left off in the second quarter. Aaron Milton rushed for his second touchdown of the season with a 2-yard run, set up by an impressive 32-yard run by fullback Stephan Boroniec.
Toronto got on the scoreboard once more before the half. A 38-yard rush by Milton, his longest of the day, set up a 10-yard passing touchdown. It was a sentimental score, as Gillis found fellow fifth-year Sebastian Magalas in the corner of the end zone for the final time at Varsity Stadium.
Although they usually count on points from the foot of Andrew Lomasney — 1–3 on that day with a successful 33-yard field goal — the Blues provided fans with a thrilling four touchdowns and a defensive shutout in the first half.
“Finally [the offense] clicked. It’s been so long since we’ve had that kind of game, but they finally clicked,” said first-year head coach Greg Gary. “We could have used that a couple weeks ago, but we’re so happy with the results today.”
The Warriors, who came into the game winless and left in the same position, had eight first downs and only 129 total yards in the first half. Waterloo found themselves in the Toronto red zone on one lone occasion, and their lack of success was a result of the Blues’ defense. Warriors’ quarterback Luke Balch was under pressure all afternoon, and on his team’s final possession before the half, was sacked on consecutive plays by Toronto’s Marra and Fehler. Balch was later benched for Brian Chris.
The Blues’ offense showed no sign of rust after the first half. On an exciting special teams play, Willie Sharpe successfully lead a punt fake and carried the ball down to the Waterloo 6-yard line, where Gillis found senior Michael Prempeh for his first touchdown of the season. Gillis put in an impressive performance in his final game in blue and white, with three touchdowns in the air and one rushing. Gillis threw his final pass as a Blue to Alex Pierzchalski at the start of the fourth quarter. The quarterback was then replaced by Richard Quittenton, and later Simon Nasar, as the Blues showed the crowd next year’s offensive potential. Toronto averaged 69.4 yards on the ground over the season, but against the Warriors they carried two 100-yard running backs, with those yards coming across the goal line for majors. First-year back Emiljano Daci, with 137 yards on the day, scored a touchdown following his 57-yard run down to the 2-yard line. That score capped off Toronto’s six-touchdown performance, with a different player scoring each major.
The Blues’ defense kept Waterloo off the scoreboard for over 59 minutes of play. However, after two goal line stops on first and second downs, the Warriors found the end zone with a third down gamble pass to Marco Visentin as time expired.
“I’m happy for Waterloo. I was real happy to see them have a little success at the end there,” sympathized Gary, commenting on how close his defense came to a shutout victory. The Blues’ 3–5 record matches last year’s, when they also missed the playoffs. However, the year-ending strong defensive and offensive performances are causes for optimism, heading into what is sure to be an off-season of great change.
“Both our backs are coming back,” said Gary. “Milton and Daci are coming back, [and] then you add Quittenton into that mix. Quittenton’s our future. He didn’t get a lot of time on the field as far as playing time, but we’re going to give him a lot of stuff in the off-season.” Only time will tell what kind of team will call the Varsity Stadium home next year, but based on the evidence from this season, there is great potential in that locker-room.