Dinos chewed up, spit out by Rams in season opener

By Еvan Osentоn

Lost in the weekend’s over-inflated hoopla surrounding the Labour Day classic was a much more important football game–the University of Calgary Dinos 2000/2001 season opener against the University of Regina Rams.

In theory, this game should have been a cake-walk. On paper, the Dinos look like a much-improved team over the squad that finished 3-5 last season. The Rams struggled against the Dinos last year, losing 44-24 in their only meeting of the season. When you factor in the Rams’ relative inexperience on the Canadian Interuniversity Athletics Union scene–this is only their second season ever–the Dinos looked like heavy favourites going into Saturday’s game.

So much for the odds. The Rams built up a solid 23-point half-time lead and held on to win 31-25 in front of the overall-clad Taylor Field faithfuls.

Head coach Tony Fasano isn’t happy with how his Dinos fared–not only did his team lose but they lost to a team they should have beaten handily.

"Obviously, it’s a very disappointing way to open up the football season," said Fasano. "Going into the first game, you hope your players are ready. I felt that we were ready and prepared to play, but in a nutshell, we made too many mistakes to win the football game."

Fasano said even though the Rams are improving, the Dinos are still the better team.

"[The Rams] are definitely a better team than last year, no question," he explained. "I’m just concerned that we didn’t play up to what we’re capable of playing. From the standpoint of making too many mistakes, we didn’t do a good job against the run. And offensively, we didn’t get on track until later in the game."

Despite losing to an inferior team and playing beneath their abilities, Fasano remains positive about the upcoming year and stresses the Dinos are a lot better than the score suggested.

"There were some positives," he said. "In the second half, we played much better. Our kicking game was strong. We had some good returns. We thought we were going to be a little stronger defensively. I think the bottom line is the guys realize we have to play better."

In an ironic twist, the Rams’ quarterback this year is none other than Daryl Leason, the former Dino who left the team just before the season opener last year, citing personal differences with Fasano. For his part, Fasano bears no grudge against his former starting QB but downplayed his contribution (11-25, 264 yards, 2 TDs) to the Rams’ victory.

"Daryl has played three years in the CIAU, [but] he wasn’t the only guy that hurt us," he said. "Their running back played an outstanding game. Daryl didn’t have a great game, but he played well enough, obviously. [However], we didn’t play Daryl Leason, we played the Rams, and they were definitely the better team."

Next up for the Dinos: The1999/2000 Canada West Football L eague champion University of Saskatchewan Huskies (1-0) in Saskatoon, Sat., Sept. 8.