Warriors win and they’re in
Waterloo meets Ottawa, gets chance to clinch first playoff berth since 2003
WATERLOO — The third opportunity didn’t pan out, so perhaps the fourth time will be the charm.
The Waterloo Warriors (4-3) will get another chance to clinch their first playoff berth since 2003 when they take on the Ottawa Gee-Gees (4-2) in Ontario University Athletics football play. The Warriors have lost three straight games heading into Saturday afternoon’s game at Gee-Gees Field but remain in complete control of their own destiny.
“This is arguably (Waterloo’s) biggest football game since 2003 and obviously there is a lot of pressure that goes along with that,” said Warriors head coach Chris Bertoia.
“I’ve told the guys it’s a privilege to have that pressure because it means we’re going in the right direction.”
The Warriors are coming off their worst performance of the season, a 68-17 loss to the Queen’s Gaels last Thursday that was a dud from start to finish. Queen’s led that game 28-3 at halftime and added 24 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Bertoia said he has “focused on the positives” during this week’s “upbeat” preparations for Ottawa, another team with plenty to play for.
The Gee-Gees close out their regular-season schedule on the road next week against the Western Mustangs (7-0), so a loss to the Warriors could put their post-season aspirations in jeopardy.
Ottawa has been involved in a number of close games this season and has victories over a pair of teams that have defeated Waterloo. The Gee-Gees beat Queen’s 14-13 on Sept. 4 and recorded a 24-21 overtime victory against the Guelph Gryphons on Aug. 27.
First-year quarterback Alex Lavric leads a workmanlike offence that has averaged just 23.3 points per game, eighth of 11 OUA teams. Waterloo, by contract, has tallied 38.4 points per game and is ranked fourth. The Warriors have also posted superior rushing and passing totals.
The Gee-Gees get the edge on defence, having allowed 20.3 points per game and 412.5 total yards per game. The Warriors have surrendered 42.7 points per game and 463.1 total yards.
The Warriors have an outside shot of backing into the playoffs with a loss, said Bertoia, but the third-year coach is hoping it doesn’t come to that.
“If we win, there’s a good chance of us finishing fourth, and if we lose, there’s a good chance of us finishing seventh and being out of the playoffs,” he said. “So as (former Oakland Raiders owner) Al Davis said: ‘Just win baby.’ ’’
The Warriors, who get their bye week after the Ottawa game, will host a playoff game if they finish fourth in the standings.
Mike Bushell tries his foot at field-goal kicking during practice with the Waterloo Warriors on Thursday.