As the school year begins and the weather grows colder, it is arguably everyone’s favourite time of the year: football season! After recovering from last year’s playoff loss, the Varsity Blues Men’s Football team are in full go-mode as they prepare for the 2022 season. 

In a recent interview with The Varsity, Adam Williams, the running back for the team, opened up about his years on the squad and the journey his team has had. 

As a first year in 2018, Williams played eight games and led the team in both carries and yards for one touchdown. Unfortunately, the team did not win any games that season. He explained that the team took their losing streak from that season as motivation to train harder and to focus on one game at a time in the following season, in which they won two regular season games. 

During the 2019 season, Williams led the team again in carries and placed second in running yards. Despite the hard losses in their previous seasons, the Blues did not let the disappointing results tear them down. Instead, they remained focused. Williams defines the build up to their 2021 season as “building blocks,” because each season they persevered and improved as one.

When asked how it felt to be a part of the first team that made it to playoffs since 1995, Williams emphasized that it was the first playoffs for everyone on that team, which made the experience even more rewarding. 

“It felt really good because in my first year, we didn’t win any games; my second year, we only won two games; and my third year, we made it to [the] playoffs,” he said. “It was nice to be a part of the team that worked so hard to get here.”

In the 2021 quarter finals, the Varsity Blues had a tough loss of 17-27 against Ottawa Gee-Gees. Early on in the first quarter, the Gee-Gees went up 3–0 with a field goal, before scoring the first touchdown of the match in the second quarter. The Blues then scored a field goal, which left the score at 10–3 entering into halftime. 

The second half of the match was an intense battle, and the Blues kept the score close until early on in the last quarter, when the Gee-Gees went up 27–11. At the end of the fourth quarter, the Blues scored one more touchdown, leaving the final score at 27–17.

Although the 2021 quarter finals did not go as planned, the Blues showed their opponents, their fans, and themselves that they are a powerhouse who will give it their best shot every single time. “Being in the playoffs was the first time for everyone on the team,” William said. “It was really just a taste of what we want.”

When asked about this upcoming season and making playoffs, Williams said, “I’m confident that my team will play to the best of our abilities and if we do that consistently, we shouldn’t have a problem.” 

In the 2022 Ontario University Athletics football fan polls, the Varsity Blues were ranked ninth out of the 11 teams. “Being ranked ninth is too low for us, but I’m sure we’ll exceed those expectations.” 

Williams assures the fans that they can expect the team to “play well, give 100 per cent effort, and play like [they] know how to play,” before adding, “hopefully [this] translates into games.”

Williams is now in his fifth year at U of T, and shared some of his own personal goals for this season. He said, “I just want to do whatever I can to help my team and not really focus on stats.” 

“It’s important to take it play by play and trust that our hard work gets us where we want to be,” he says. “And really, just play my best.”

As the start of the 2022 season kicks off, Williams explained the difference between last year’s team and this year’s team. “For starters, this year’s team is a lot younger than last year’s. Most of the older guys graduated, so we’ve had a lot of younger talent join us this year. We’re also a lot hungrier than we were last year and can handle a lot more.” 

The above claim was evident at the home opener game, where the Varsity Blues beat the Carleton Ravens 28–13. The stadium was packed with over 4000 fans and being in the crowd was ecstatic; there was a constant roar of cheer and overwhelming support from all corners of the stadium.  

The Blues came out with a fiery energy from the time they stepped foot on the field and carried that energy with them until the end of the match. 

The Blues rush onto the field as fans cheer them on. PHOTO COURTESY OF VARSITY BLUES PHOTOGRAPHER, SEYRAN MAMMADOV

According to the Varsity Blues Game Recap, the Blues went into halftime 1–0 but had “out-gained Carleton 289 yards to 32, and had 17 first downs compared to the Raven’s two.” However, the Blues did not stop here.

Although the Ravens took a quick lead at the start of the second half, it was not long until Blues took back the game. Quick offensive plays, connecting passes, and smart defensive lines put the Blues up by 15 at the end of the half, giving them the well-deserved win. 

Football season has started, the fans are excited, and the team is ready.