"The Dinos were in uniform."
That was the best way Football Head Coach Tony Fasano could describe last Saturday's matchup with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. And while in no way was it a rout, Calgary played well enough to take the game 18-13.
"We got big time plays from big time players when we needed them," explained Fasano. "Everyone played well, from special teams to offence, to defence."
Most notable for the Dinos were defensive captain, linebacker Agustin Barrenechea and so-called third-string tailback Jeff Williams. With the help of linemen Yousef Traya and Mike Macdonald, Barrenechea terrorized the UBC quarterback throughout the game. When all was said and done, Barrenechea had racked up a total of seven tackles, three of them sacks. In what Fasano termed "his best game of the season," offensive captain/fullback Jeff Almon provided key blocks, helping Williams explode for a massive 177 yards rushing and one touchdown.
"This was a playoff game for us," explained Fasano. "We won, and we now control our own destiny."
With one game left in the regular season, the U of C stands on the threshold of a post-season berth. The Dinos win combined with a University of Alberta loss to the Regina Rams, means that either a win, a tie or an overtime loss in their last homestand of the year would automatically earn Calgary a spot in the playoffs. But the squad's final opponent of the year, the University of Manitoba Bisons, will undoubtedly be their toughest--a reality not lost on first-year quarterbacks coach, Shawn Olson.
"As far as I'm concerned Manitoba is the best team in the country, so it will be a tough game," explained the former starting pivot for the T-birds. "But we beat Regina when [Darryl] Leason was dominating the league. So it isn't impossible."
The Bison punished the Dinos 49-6 in their first matchup of the year back on Sept. 15 in Winnipeg. The bad news is they've gotten consistently better since that time. Currently ranked third in the nation, Manitoba does not boast of either the best offence or the best defence in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, but the two combined are one of the country's most lethal combinations.
It's a certainty that Manitoba will be solid, what is still not clear is which Dinos team will show up for the game. The entire squad will need to bring its A-game on Fri., Oct. 26 if they expect to steal a point and seal the proverbial deal.
"I know everyone understands the importance of this game," said Fasano. "But I think the guys will be ready. We're practicing with a purpose from here on out."