Toronto – Their fates may already be sealed for the 2018 season, but both the York Lions and Toronto Varsity Blues are looking to close out their season with a bang in the latest edition of the Red & Blue Bowl, one of this week’s OUA Marquee Matchups, powered by Planters.
Neither the Lions nor Varsity Blues will be taking part in this season’s Yates Cup playoffs, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for. In fact, this year’s finale carries with it great meaning in one of the most storied rivalries that university sport has to offer. Both sides enter with victory on their minds, but when the Argo Cup is on the line, it has been Toronto who has claimed the all-time edge.
Coming into the game with a 30-18 record in the series, the Blues will aim to get back in the win column after last year’s win by York snapped the team’s four consecutive Red & Blue Bowl triumphs. In the 48th edition, York led nearly wire-to-wire, giving up an early safety to Toronto before setting themselves up in the driver’s seat the rest of the way. First half majors from Alex Daley (Etobicoke, Ont.) and Jesse Amankwaa got the ball rolling for York, while a defensive touchdown pushed their cushion to 22. More of the same highlighted the second half and ultimately led to the Lions’ 41-16 win on their home turf.
The game marked York’s lone win of the 2017 campaign, giving them matching records with their cross-town rivals, but the Lions have found success a bit more frequently this season. York has doubled their win total from a season ago, checking in with a Week 4 win over Windsor (29-22) and a hard-fought homecoming victory over Waterloo (34-22). Part of the team’s success has come via the passing game, and unsurprisingly, the Hunchak brothers are right at the centre of it.
Brett Hunchak (Calgary, Alta.) ranks in the conference’s top-five in several key categories, including yards per game and completion percentage, while his brother, Colton Hunchak (Calgary, Alta.), can say the same in terms of his receiving yards per game and touchdown grabs this year. The dynamic sibling duo is always one to watch out for when they take the field, but they are by no means the only weapons on the York offence. The likes of leading rusher Kayden Johnson (Kerrobert, Sask.) and the nearly 400 receiving yards of Eric Kimmerly (Oshawa, Ont.) help to round out the Lions’ skilled attack, which Toronto will need to be ready for to find their first win.
Among those looking to contain these roaring threats is Lamar Foyle (Toronto, Ont.), one the province’s top tacklers this year and fellow top-ten talent Malcolm Campbell (Mississauga, Ont.), who has not only tallied 43 tackles on the year, but also five sacks (3rd in OUA). As a whole, however, it has been tough sledding for both the Varsity Blues and Lions defensive units this season, as they have given up the most points per contest (40.6 and 40.3, respectively) on the year.
Like the defence, Toronto’s offence may not have found the type of success they would have liked this season, but the team does boast plenty of playmakers that can put points on the board quickly. One of the them is the versatile speedster Daniel Diodati (Etobicoke, Ont.). While he leads the team in receptions (36) on the year, his dynamic play has helped him find the endzone via the pass, run, and punt return in 2018.
Among the other talented sophomores that will line up alongside Diodati are Will Corby (Burlington, Ont.) and Nolan Lovegrove (Aurora, Ont.). After picking up all-rookie honours in his freshman campaign, Corby has put up another strong campaign, leading his squad in receiving yards thus far and picking up nearly five receptions per contest. Lovegrove, meanwhile, has paced the Blues with three touchdowns on the year.
With bragging rights on the line, neither side is willing to let the season, or their chance at the Argo Cup, wind down without a fight. And as rivalries go, not many can match the competition between these two GTA-based schools, so only time will tell whether York can double down on their win from a season ago or Toronto can start up a new streak this time around.
After hosting last year, York will head to Varsity Field for the 2018 edition, which all goes down on Saturday, October 20 at 1:00pm. All the action airs live on oua.tv and fans can also catch the regular season finale via the oua.tv app, which can be downloaded on Amazon Fire, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku.