Stingers victorious at homecoming
From his seat in the stands during Concordia’s annual Homecoming game last Friday night, alumnus Kieran Hackett (BEng, 1993) reminisced about cheering on the Stingers football team back when it played on real grass, when there was no PERFORM Centre next to the field, and no stands.
Things have changed a lot on the Loyola Campus, but the atmosphere during a big game is the same as ever. “It’s great being back with my fellow alumni and friends. It gives me a chance to visit my old stomping grounds and to wear the school colours again,” he said.
The evening of the game was clear and bright, but as the sun went down the slight chill before kick-off turned into a biting cold. Even so, the stands were close to capacity. The many alumni present — recognizable in their old Concordia T-shirts and hoodies — were joined by current Stingers from the men’s rugby, men’s hockey, and cross-country running teams.
Though the Sherbrooke Vert & Or proved to be a worthy opponent, Concordia came out on top by a score of 29-22, capturing their third straight win of the season.
Six minutes into the game, Stingers slotback Jamal Henry scored the first touchdown, dodging a few tackles and running 62 yards to the end zone. It was the first of many times the crowd would be brought to its feet.
With five minutes to go in the first half, veteran halfback Kris Robertson ran an interception back 64 yards to put the Stingers up 14-5.
But this game was far from over.
Early in the second half, the Vert & Or scored a field goal to go up by one. The home crowd grew louder, rallying the Stingers to get back in the game.
With five minutes left in the third quarter, Henry scored again, putting the Stingers back in front. Minutes later quarterback Frank Dessureault connected with receiver Shayne Stinson to give the Stingers a more comfortable lead.
Though Sherbrooke would manage another touchdown, it was too late for the Vert & Or to mount a comeback. It was a hard-fought victory for the Stingers over a team they hadn’t beaten in four years.
Concordia is undefeated so far this season and sits in ninth place in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s ranking.
“It’s a great accomplishment for all the guys. They’ve worked hard and they deserve it,” said head coach Mickey Donovan after the game. “It’s a special event to have the alumni here. It’s great to have the whole family back. For the kids, it shows that people care about them.”
An alumnus himself, Donovan played three seasons as a linebacker with the Stingers, and graduated in 2006 with a BA in Leisure Sciences.
Many former Stingers came to witness the third straight win. Stewart Savard played as a receiver for the Stingers in the late 1980s, and coached the team from 2004-2006; at the same time Donovan was a player.
“The alumni have been waiting a long time for a winning team,” said Savard. “Mickey is using his playing style in his coaching. He was always ready to go, and he’s brought that to his coaching style.”
Colin Anderson was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday. The former quarterback who graduated in 1984 said he’s happy his former team is doing well. “The better the team is, the better the legacy is. Donovan is doing a great job. The team has a solid offence, and a solid defence.”
Martin Disabatino played for Concordia in the early 1980s and was drafted into the CFL by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1984. “The older you get, the more you miss it,” Disabatino said, reminiscing about his playing days. “It’s different than in other sports; you’re playing with 80 or 90 guys. You miss the camaraderie.”
Dessureault was happy his team was able to extend its record to 3-0 for the first time since 2006, especially in front of so many alumni supporters.
“I think there’s a sense of pride for the alumni, the past few years have been tough for Concordia and I’m sure it’s been tough on them as well,” he said.
Catch the Stingers’ next home game against the Montréal Carabins on Saturday Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. at the Loyola campus.
Or watch their next away game against Saint Mary’s live online on Saturday Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.