It has been a thought lingering in minds of both teams all season – with one dreaming of redemption, the other looking to erase all doubts that it deserves consideration as being one of history’s premier university football teams.
The top-ranked McMaster Marauders and second-seeded Laval Rouge et Or will meet once again in Friday’s Vanier Cup national championship game in Toronto, a clash of the titans if there ever was one.
“It’s a rematch of the two big dogs in Canada,” is how Aram Eisho, McMaster’s turbocharged middle linebacker, appropriately described the upcoming challenge.
With a decisive 45-6 victory over the listless Calgary Dinosaurs here at Ron Joyce Stadium on Saturday in the Mitchell Bowl, the Marauders have now won a national-record 21 straight games to earn the right to defend their Vanier Cup crown.
The Rouge et Or punched their ticket into the championship game with an equally impressive 42-7 win over the Acadia Axeman in the Uteck Bowl in Quebec City to advance to the Vanier Cup for the third straight season.
The contest will feature the same two teams that clashed in last year’s memorable finale in Vancouver.
It was an epic battle, considered by many as not just the greatest university football game ever played but also one of the most exciting games, period, to be contested on Canadian soil.
The Marauders won, 41-38, in double overtime, a defeat that still resonates in the memories of a Laval team that will be looking for a record-setting seventh Canadian Interuniversity Sport football title on Friday.
“I think its pretty much destiny for us to meet up after last year’s game,” said McMaster kicker Tyler Crapigna, who booted the winning field goal in last year’s affair. “We need to have another rematch after that.”
McMaster and Laval have already played once this year – in an exhibition game – back in late August where the Rouge et Or prevailed 28-22.
“The thought of playing Laval is actually frightening,” McMaster coach Stefan Ptaszek said.
“I swear they have a cloning machine. They find these 6-2, 220-pound kids and they clone them all over the place.”
Not that the Marauders are exactly doormats.
Led by rugged senior quarterback Kyle Quinlan, the Marauders pack an explosive wallop – not only on offence but defensively as well.
Quinlan rushed for three touchdowns on Saturday and threw for three more, completing 26-of-36 of his passes for 417 yards.
Calgary entered the game with the country’s highest-rated offence, averaging a Canadian Interuniversity Sport -best 47.5 points a game.
But foolish Dinosaur penalties and a swarming Marauders defence prevented Calgary from scoring a touchdown for the first time in a game this season.
Quinlan, the Ontario nominee as the most outstanding Canadian university player, said it is fitting that McMaster and Laval will be meeting again.
“This was kind of a collision course since day one,” said Quinlan, who agreed that the Laval players would probably come into the game believing they owe the Marauders something.
“Oh yeah, I’m sure they do,” Quinlan said. “I don’t think it’s going to make them want it any more.
“It’s funny to talk about extra motivation. When you get to the highest level they’re going to try to win that game, regardless of whether we beat them last year, whether they beat us. Like I said we’re just excited to go toe to toe with them again.”
McMaster will be trying to become only the fifth team in history to repeat as Vanier Cup champion after Manitoba (1969-1970), Western (1976-1977), Saint Mary’s (2001-2002) and Laval (2003-2004).