Fast facts: A team with an up and down season last year, after beating Guelph the final week of the season to ensure a playoff spot they nearly took the conference finalists out the following week. A team with Defensive issues last season returns with 15 of 23 dress players on Defence and 13 of 21 on Offence (7 of 12 starters on both sides of the ball), which is a good sign for this younger squad.
Coach: Stefan Ptaszek enters his third season as coach, sporting a record of a regular season record of 11-5 and an overall record of 11-7 with the team. Coach Ptaszek will look to build upon his success in 2008, and going thru a bit of a rebuild will also watch to see his team start coming together.
Co-ordinators: Offensive co-ordinator Stefan Ptaszek (2 seasons at Mac), Defensive Coordinator Greg Knox (2 seasons at Mac), special teams co-ordinator Larry Guarascia (8 seasons at Mac)
Enrolment: 22,940 Undergraduate students, 3130 Graduate students as per the Directory of Canadian Universities.
Alumni in the CFL: McMaster still leads the CIS in terms of former players employed by the CFL with 12 active players, as of Duane’s July list: RB Jesse Lumsden, LB Jason Pottinger, LB Jason Arakagi, OL Fabio Filice, S Tristan Clovis, OL Ryan Donnelly, OL Kyle Koch, OL Matt O’Meara, LB Ryan Mariuz, LB Michael Botterill, DE Jeff Robertshaw and LS Chris Vrantsis.
Famous non-football alumni: A school truly rich with important, influential alumni, Mac has contributed to politics graduating trailblazing Africentric politician and former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Lincoln Alexander; current Premiere of Ontario Dalton McGuinty; and the Greatest Canadian of All Time, the ‘Father of Medicare’, former Saskatchewan Premiere / founding NDP leader Tommy Douglas. MAC has also produced a number of notable film and television celebrities in the form John Candy, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Dave Thomas, and Producer Ivan Reitman. Other notable grads of include astronaut Roberta Bondar, numerous Presidents and Chancellor’s of University’s across North America and even Australia, as well as Olympic flag bearer Adam van Koeverden, and legendary CFL quarterback Russ Jackson.
Three-year record: 17-11
2007 unit rankings: Mac was fourth in total offence in the OUA last season, and ranked 9th nationwide. They finished 2nd in the conference in passing and sixth in rushing. The defensive unit was really more of the issue last season as they finished 7th in the OUA and 18th across the CIS. The passing game is where they really took a hit as they finished 8th in the OUA, 1 yard/game ahead of the 9th position and 2 yards/game out of the very last spot.
Key losses: QB Adam Archibald, the second-leading passer in Marauder history (6,313 career yards), WR Rob Serviss (Waterloo, ON). A second team All-Canadian
in 2007 with 34 catches for 562 yards and 4 touchdowns; G Shawn McCormick (Burlington, ON). A four year veteran Offensive Lineman; WR Jordan Charter (Brantford, ON). The team's leading receiver in 2006, who struggled with injury (missed 3 games) in 2007; LB Jason Arakgi; DL Chris Van Zeyl and Kristian Consack
REC- Mike Bradwell (Toronto, ON) - CIS leading receiver and first team
All-Canadian in 2007 with 53 catches for 958 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Drafted13th overall in the 2007 CFL draft. Did not participate in the Argo’s
training camp due to injury.
RB- Joey Nemet (Burlington, ON) – McMaster leading rusher in 2007
with 92 carries for 382 yards and 2 TD’s
OT- Justin Glover (Hamilton, ON). At 6’2” and 299 lbs he brings
both size and strength to the McMaster offensive line.
QB- Ryan Fantham (London, ON) Completed 27 of 40 passes for
405 yards and 2 touchdowns in 2007.
LB- Simon Binder (Almonte, ON) The leader of the McMaster defense.
An OUA Second team all-star in 2006.
LB – Ryan Chmielewski (St. Catharines, ON). The OUA Rookie
of the Year in 2007. Leading tackler in 2007 with 35 solo tackles,
10 assisted tackles and 4 sacks.
DB – Kurt Morrison (Sault Ste. Marie, ON). Third leading tackler
in 2007 with 30 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles and 2 interceptions.
DE – James Edwards (Hamilton, ON) The former East-West Bowl
Participant returns for his fourth year
Players to watch: Highly recruited WR Kevin D’Hollander back finally started to emerge last season, and while a late insertion into this season's East-West Bowl he led the West receivers. It will be vital to Mac's success to have D’Hollander live up to the high standards set for him before he arrived.
On defence last seasons rookie of the year Ryan Chmielewski will also be a player to key on, the linebacker will play an important role on that Defensive unit.
For future reference: Although QB Ryan Fantham took some snaps last season in place of Archibald when he was out due to injury, there has been a lot of talk about new recruit and OVFL MVP Kyle Quinlan. Don’t discount the possibility that Quinlan either splits duty or starts altogether, as the young freshman did see some time in Mac's scrimmage against Windsor and reports were pretty positive…After three seasons of playing at Ivor Wynne Stadium, McMaster will return to campus with the grand opening of the new $23 million dollar, Ron Joyce stadium.
Sept. 1 @ Queen's, 2 p.m.
Sept. 6 @ Waterloo, 1 p.m.
Sept. 13 Ottawa 7 p.m. (The Score)
Sept. 20 @ Guelph, 1 p.m. (The Score)
Sept. 26 York, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 - Toronto, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 @ Laurier, 1 p.m.
Oct. 18 Windsor, 1 p.m.
(McMaster will miss out playing Western this season)
Final analysis: Mac should land a playoff spot but likely towards the bottom of the pecking order in the OUA playoff structure. The smart betting money would have this team finish with a .500 record. If they surprise they go 5-3, but in all likelihood don’t expect too many miracles just yet. The Marauders are well paced in their schedule with a game against Waterloo splitting up a string of contests against tougher competition within the OUA. Missing out on a stronger Western Mustangs unit this season, thanks to OUA scheduling patterns, certainly plays to this younger teams advantage. The high octane MAC offense is still essentially there, a little watered down and yes dependent on the play of the new starting QB, but there are pieces still in place for some iffensive explosions.
Their defence, and more specifically their secondary, that will dictate the success of this Marauders team. They're not yet Yates Cup contender, however, in OUA playoffs, really anything can happen.