Playing for Pride
Stingers Squeeze by Rival Redmen in Shaughnessy Cup
As Keegan Treloar’s conversion kick sailed through the uprights, Gerry McGrath turned to find Reid Quest on the sideline.
For a brief moment, the usually quiet, reserved Stingers head coach gave way to his emotions and embraced his starting quarterback.
Eliminated from the playoffs after a player eligibility violation wiped out their two wins this season, mired in a 0-3 slump and on the road against cross-town rivals, nothing mattered more to the pair than the score on the scoreboard.
Concordia Stingers 43, McGill Redmen 40.
For a brief moment, the Concordia Stingers football team had reason to celebrate for the first time in a long time.
“Words don’t describe the feeling that’s going through this team right now,” said Quest, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left to play.
Up until that pass, Saturday afternoon at Molson Stadium could easily have summed up Concordia’s 2012 season so far.
Like their promising 2-1 start to the year, the Stingers jumped out to an early 26-0 lead over the McGill. They seemed poised for a blowout win, just like they had seemed poised for a deep playoff run in 2012.
But like their season, the Stingers let the game slip away, allowing the Redmen to inch closer and closer until they eventually scored the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute to play.
The Stingers of weeks past—the ones who had lost three consecutive games, the last two by a combined 86-6 score—may have given up then and there.
Not these Stingers.
“Once we fell [behind] there in the fourth quarter, we just kind of looked at each other and said, ‘This isn’t gonna happen,’” said Reid. “We had a shitty enough week as it is and we needed to do something.”
And so, down by four with just 53 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, Quest orchestrated a six-play, 59-yard drive, capped off by a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kris Bastien.
“It was a simple slant pattern,” Reid said. “It was just a window I had to throw it in and I know that whenever I throw it in [Bastien’s] direction he’s gonna come down with it.”
Following last week’s loss to the Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or, a win against McGill originally would’ve given the Stingers a 3-4 record and a chance to make the postseason.
Heading into last Saturday’s game, the Stingers were left with nothing else to play for but pride.
As it turns out, that’s all the motivation they would need.
“Coming into this game, we knew it was a must-win,” said Reid. “It doesn’t mean much in the standings, but we needed this for our pride.”
Safety Nathan Taylor felt the same. “It’s all about pride,” he said. “You gotta play for yourself, you gotta play for your teammates, you gotta play for your coaches and for your institution.
[Whether you’re] 0-6, 6-0, it doesn’t matter—you gotta go out and play.”
That mentality resonated not only among the players, but among the coaches as well.
“Playoffs, boardroom stuff, I don’t get bogged down with that,” said McGrath. “It’s about our guys having pride and playing to the best of their ability.”
Their reward: the Shaughnessy Cup, and the 10th consecutive year holding bragging rights over McGill for Montreal football supremacy.
After everything they’ve been through, that’s good enough for them.
“I just think that today was a great day to be a Stinger,” said McGrath. “Our guys showed a lot of heart and poise and composure bouncing back from the situation.”
Of course, the Stingers can’t celebrate for too long. There may be no playoffs at this point, but there are two games remaining on their schedule.
“The challenge this week was to make sure the kids understood that even though our record said we’re 0-6, we can continue to get better and we can control what happens from this point on,” said offensive coordinator Bryan Chiu.
And they plan on doing just that.
“All that matters is that we play hard every game and make the most of what we’ve got left,” says Taylor. “We can beat Sherbrooke, we can beat Laval, and we’re gonna go out and show we’re still a force to be reckoned with.”