U Sports powerhouses set to clash on conference championship weekend

Photo courtesy: Hailey Tripodi/Laurier Athletics

The U Sports elite escaped semi-final weekend without any upset, setting the stage for a high-powered slate of conference championships.

The top two seeds in all four conferences will face off for their respective trophies on Saturday, November 11, with the victors earning both regional bragging rights and a ticket to the national playoff. Three reigning champions will take to the field in Western, Laval, and St. FX, while UBC and Montreal look to avenge painful losses from a year ago. Three new contenders will also enter the fray for a chance to smash preseason expectations.

Loney Bowl: Bishop’s Gaiters (7-2) at St. FX X-Men (9-0) — 1:00 p.m. EDT

Mighty St. FX may be in search of their third straight Jewett Trophy but they are certain to have their hands full against Bishop’s. The two sides were competitive in a pair of regular-season meetings, with the X-Men needing triple overtime to preserve their undefeated record in the second matchup. An opportunistic Gaiters’ defence chaired by linebacker Gabriel Royer and French defensive back Yani Gouadfel was the key to that near upset, though they’ll have their hands full going against conference MVP Silas Fagnan and his trusty running back Malcolm Bussey.

Yates Cup: Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (9-1) at Western Mustangs (9-0) — 1:00 p.m. EDT

It took some fourth-quarter heroics from a backup quarterback to give Western the victory when these two sides met two weeks ago, but star pivot Evan Hillock has already recovered from the concussion that knocked him out of that game. He’ll be flying high after dropping 300 on rival Queen’s in the semi-final, which should set the stage for one of the best QB battles in Yates Cup history. Laurier pivot Taylor Elgersma is the Hec Crighton favourite thanks to his exceptional regular season, though he struggled slightly in a narrow victory over Windsor last week. He’ll have to avoid the wrath of pick-artist Jackson Findlay, who double-dipped versus the Gaels.

Dunsmore Cup: Laval Rouge et Or (7-2) at Montreal Carabins (8-1) — 2:00 p.m. EDT

Death, taxes, and Laval meeting Montreal in the Dunsmore Cup. The only difference is that the usual balance of power is flipped in this matchup, with the Carabins notching commanding victories in both regular season meetings and the Rouge et Or needing overtime in the semi-final to avoid their first loss to Concordia since 2003. Of course, Montreal had their own slip-up against the Stingers two weeks ago, but Jonathan Senecal has been one of the most consistent players in the country this season while Laval’s biggest stars have been unusually quiet.

Hardy Cup: Alberta Golden Bears (7-2) at UBC Thunderbirds (7-2) — 4:00 p.m. EDT

It was just two weeks ago that the T-Birds secured their second victory over Alberta to claim the top seed in the Canada West, earning them a home-field advantage for this game. While UBC has been a perennial title contender since Blake Nill took the helm in 2015, they haven’t hosted the Hardy Cup since 1997. That must seem like just yesterday for the Golden Bears, who have not won the game since 1981 — a victory that also came against the Thunderbirds on the Point Grey campus. Football has changed a lot since then but you can still expect a healthy dose of the ground game in this one, with Matthew Peterson and Isaiah Knight serving as a catalyst for their respective offences.