Gee-Gees aim for Vanier Cup

Veteran offence features NFL prospect Tounkara and big-play capabilities

By Mark Kuiack
The Ottawa Gee-Gees are used to being the No.1 university football team in the city, but this year they may be No. 1 in the country.

Despite a 41-24 loss to Concordia Oct. 4, Ottawa is still optimistic about their chances to top the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union. They now trail Guelph and Western in the CIAU standings.

With a 5-1 record, a national championship may be in sight for the first time in over 20 years.

Big plays in clutch situations have been a trademark of their season so far. But head coach Larry Ring says there’s more to the team’s success.

“When you get big plays they sure help,” says Ring. “But we also have a cohesive coaching staff and a talented bunch of kids who have developed a winning attitude.”

Ring says winning isn’t going to his players’ heads, because their offence has had trouble scoring. The Gee-Gees averaged about 20 points in their first six games and still have not won a game by more than six points.

“Even though they were ranked No.1, they felt they hadn’t played to their capabilities,” says Ring.
Quarterback Phil Côté says the team should relax and take time to perfect its offence.

“We’re just putting a bit too much pressure on ourselves,” Côté says. “We’ve still got lots of time to gel.”
Backup quarterback Trevor Monaghan says pressure isn’t the only thing a top-flight team has to contend with.

“Players will take liberty at hitting us after the play,” says Monaghan. “But you can’t take players out or put bounties on their heads. We just have to play our game.”

If anyone can help make the offence come together it’s National Football League prospect and All-Canadian receiver Ousmane Tounkara.

Scouts from the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins have come to evaluate Tounkara and it is expected he will be picked in the fourth to sixth round of next year’s NFL draft.

But Tounkara says he’s staying focused on the task at hand.

“If I was thinking about the draft it would be too much pressure for me to handle,” says Tounkara. “All I’m thinking about right now is winning every game and going to the Vanier Cup.”

Ring says experienced players like Tounkara will help the team achieve their goals and improve on last year’s semifinal finish.

Tounkara shares Ring’s optimism.

“Our offence is starting to click so I think we’re going to be unstoppable.”