Belief in the Future After a Season to Forget

Stingers Football Trying to Look Forward After Disappointing, Unfocused Season

  • This season left much to be desired for the Stingers men’s football team, but with more time to prepare ahead of them, they’re hopeful for the future. File Photo Elisa Barbier

It was not the season the Concordia Stingers football team dreamed of. Finishing with a record of 2-6, the Stingers ended up last in the the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, missing the playoffs for the first time since a winless 2013 season.

It looked to be a different kind of year for Concordia at the start of the season. New head coach Brad Collinson was a former Stinger and brought a high pedigree of coaching experience with him.

Even though Collinson had only a few short weeks with the team ahead of the start of the preseason, players said they could tell quickly that this was a man looking to make changes.

Despite an early and expected loss to the Laval Rouge et Or—the team that would go on to become Vanier Cup champions—the season started with the high of back to back wins, including a high-octane comeback against Sherbrooke. The team was looking solid at 2-1; a single win against Sherbrooke or McGill later in the season and a playoff spot would be assured even with predicted losses to Laval and Université de Montréal, the giants of the RSEQ.

Instead, the team went on to lose its next five games, going winless through the second half of the season, starting with a 75-3 loss to the UdeM Carabins.

“I think it was just getting too comfortable during games and not staying hungry that really messed us up,” said wide receiver James Tyrrell.

Tyrrell felt that winnable games and a playoff spot were lost due to players losing focus when they would go up early in games and that there was trouble with focus for those players on the bench.

Now going into his final year, Tyrrell stressed the importance of the team being on the same page next season and committing to one goal during games.

“When it’s football, it’s football, nothing else.”

Some may point to the loss to UdeM as a turning point in this kind of trouble. It was a brutal defeat in front of a home crowd and set off the team’s losing streak.

“We had the nails in the coffin, we just didn’t hammer them in.” —Brad Collinson

But Collinson says that while it wasn’t a fun loss, it was the late season losses where they allowed comebacks against both McGill and Sherbrooke that really sunk their season.

Against McGill at home, the Stingers led 17-2 after the first quarter, scoring just two points through the rest of the game. Against Sherbrooke and needing a win to make the playoffs, they lost 28-21 after leading 21-7 to start the final quarter of the game and season.

“It was kind of like a recap of our season. Just not finishing. We had the nails in the coffin, we just didn’t hammer them in,” said Collinson.

Collinson sets his eyes on the future now. He’s focused on creating a new mood within the team that has some players already excited to move on from this year.

“He’s definitely trying to implement a new culture. Right now [some] guys are just kind of here. I guess there’s a lack of importance almost,” said Tyrrell. The veteran player is especially confident moving forward because his coach will have the time to begin to implement changes.

That wasn’t the case last offseason when Collinson had just six weeks before the preseason to handle both administrative and on-field duties, as well as building up the team’s structure for games.

The prospect of their new coach having an offseason to mold the team has players feeling optimistic moving forward.

“We’ve all bought into him and the way he does things. I think we’re all excited to let him have a full offseason with the program and see what he can do with it,” said quarterback Adam Vance.

With more than just a few short weeks to prep for next season, head coach Collinson is already moving full steam ahead with recruiting.

Collinson has already started his work on trying to correct a disappointing season.

“Being 2-6 is not acceptable. We’ve gotta work hard. Recruiting is going to be key,” said Collinson.

The moment their season finished, the Stingers staff turned their eyes towards the next crop of recruits coming into the university game. With a class of 13 graduating players and a roster of Stingers coming off of unimpressive seasons, one would have to think that there’s going to be room for new blood.

The team has already made three key announcements on that front. Kevin-Foster Verdier was the leading rusher (971 yards) for the RSEQ’s top cegep division this season. The running back was an all-star with the Vanier Cheetahs.

The Stingers also announced that they’ve brought in linebackers Gabriel Pelletier and Gabriel Tétrault. The latter is a graduate of the Champlain Cougars. Pelletier has represented both Team Quebec and Team Canada in recent years.

For Vance, these new recruits coming in are a good chance to help set Collinson’s new culture in place. The Stingers’ QB certainly does not lack confidence in his head coach.

“I think we have a lot of good things coming with him being here now.”

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