The University of Alberta Golden Bears football team has secured a playoff spot after a massive win against the University of Calgary Dinos on October 28.
The Bears scored a 53-3 victory over the Dinos which puts them through to the Hardy Cup playoffs for the first time since 2010. The Bears will head back to Calgary to rematch the Dinos in a semifinal game on Saturday. If the Bears beat the Dinos, they will face either the University of Saskatchewan Huskies or the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the Hardy Cup final and have a chance to win the Canada West Conference, a title that they haven’t won since 1981.
The number one ranked Dinos were previously undefeated, making this loss particularly surprising. Bears Head Coach Chris Morris said he couldn’t speculate as to why the Dinos performed poorly, but he did praise the performance of his team.
“I’m proud of the players, they did really well,” he said. “It’s the best football game we’ve played since I’ve been here as head coach.”
From the beginning, the Bears dominated the game, scoring 16 points in the first quarter and only allowing the Dinos a single point. Taking advantage of weak Dinos offense, the Bears continued to massive gains while shutting out the Dinos’ scoring attempts.
Bears fifth-year running back Ed Ilnicki recorded 159 yards on the ground, a feat which makes him the new single-season all-time rushing leader in Canada West. Fifth-year wide receiver Tylor Henry also played a great game, catching 4 touchdown passes and recording 159 yards in the air, the most in a single game in Golden Bears history and the second-most in Canada West history. His performance led him to be named a Week 8 Canada West Player of the Week.
“Tylor’s been playing great his whole second-half of the season,” Morris said. “He was a little banged up… at the beginning of the year, and now he’s playing really well now that he’s feeling healthy … It’s a huge advantage to us, cause he’s really one of the best receivers in the country.”
Henry was also proud of his team’s performance, saying that it was a sign of the team’s growth over the whole season.
“We’ve been playing good football for all season,” he said. “The only difference (from earlier in the season) is that we had some things we had to work out … Last week was just that awesome coming-together of everything we’ve been working on.”
Henry said the locker room was full of pride and celebration after the game, as they were finally able to break a long-time losing streak against the Dinos.
“We’ve been absolutely embarrassed by Calgary many times,” he said. “To destroy them like that, in their house, when it mattered? You can’t even put into words how exciting that is.”
The emotions became overwhelming for some players too.
“Guys in the locker room were literally crying,” Henry said. “It’s just overwhelming to put all that hard work into action and to finally have it (pay off).”
Looking ahead to playoffs, Morris said the team will continue to focus on their preparations and approaches to games. He said he feels good about the team’s chances.
“We’ve got a really really good group of kids here,” he said. “They’re gonna work hard. I feel very confident going into the game from that standpoint.”
For Henry, he feels that all the teams needs is to continue their hard work and continue to play at the same level they have been recently. Playing one play at a time and focusing on the task at hand will be their goal.
“We know what all the pieces are,” he said. “It’s just a matter of going out there and taking care of business.”