Rams head coach believes in parity, believes Regina has chance to knock off Dinos

 

 
 
 
 
Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton looks for a pass against the Dinos during their Oct. 4 meeting. Picton is the Rams’ biggest weapon.
 

Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton looks for a pass against the Dinos during their Oct. 4 meeting. Picton is the Rams’ biggest weapon.

Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte Lorraine Hjalte, Calgary Herald

In 31 seasons at the rudder, the retiring Frank McCrystal has learned a thing or two about the whims of unpredictable seas.

“I’ve always maintained that, whatever the season, whoever the team, whatever the standings, there’s always a great deal of parity in this league,” maintained the University of Regina boss in advance of Saturday’s Canada West playoff date at McMahon Stadium.

“Nothing’s a given.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re 1-6 going against 7-0, you’ve got a chance. I firmly believe that. Even some of the games where scores get away on teams, it’s not so much that one team’s so much better as that when you’re behind you have to force.

“So even some of the big scores that we see in some of these games aren’t really indication of the competitiveness.”

McCrystal’s 3-5 Rams arrive heavy underdogs against a 6-2 Calgary Dinos’ outfit smarting after a rare conference loss in their curtain-dropper at Manitoba.

Blake Nill’s crew will be looking to host its sixth Hardy Cup final in seven seasons. And in the lone collision between to the two schools this season, at McMahon, the Dinos torched Regina 59-7.

That was then, says McCrystal.

This is now.

The Rams can certainly be forgiven for feeling they’ve got the dominoes tumbling their way. They staged a spirited comeback to topple the U of A Golden Bears at Mosaic (It’ll Always Be Taylor Field) Stadium in their final game, but to qualify for post-season and extend their legendary coach’s sideline career at least one more afternoon, they also needed the Bisons to upset the Dinos and have Saskatchewan hold off UBC.

A lot — maybe too much — to ask?

Well, as fate would have it . . .

“We felt that we’ve had a good football team since the start of the season,” said McCrystal, who’s twice brought teams into Calgary (2000 and 2002) and won playoff games. “We’ve lost some close ones, dropped some key passes, didn’t make plays at critical times. We’re coming in 3-5, but we could easily be 6-2.”

One of those Rams singled out by Nill for special attention is first-year quarterback Noah Picton, who went 27-for-40 for 467 yards in the must-have victory over the Bears.

“We have two good ones,” corrected McCrystal, with a tip of the cap to fourth-year man Zach Oleynik, as well. “Both of them have played awfully well. Our young guy has been a quarterback forever. He’s been running the same kinds of things that we run through high school and minor football. They’re both very bright guys and very, very capable of not only getting the job done, technically, physically on the field but they both provide some real leadership for us.”

And, cautions the coach, don’t let that 0-4 record away from Regina fool you.

“We’re actually, I believe, a good travel team. Maybe it doesn’t show so much but we lost by a point in B.C., by two in Edmonton, then lost by 23-24 in Winnipeg. We’re used to it because we log more travel miles than anyone else. B.C., for example, get to fly everywhere. We’ve had the eight-hour bus rides and they’ve got the two-hour flights.”

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton looks for a pass against the Dinos during their Oct. 4 meeting. Picton is the Rams’ biggest weapon.
 

Regina Rams quarterback Noah Picton looks for a pass against the Dinos during their Oct. 4 meeting. Picton is the Rams’ biggest weapon.

Photograph by: Lorraine Hjalte Lorraine Hjalte, Calgary Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice