sportkingston - The authoritative source for Golden Gaels football and Kingston Area high school sports

sportkingston Staff

Claude Scilley
Brought To You By

DCSun Internet Technologies
Kingston Paint & Decorating
Thank You To All Our Generous Supporters!
We Need Your Help Too!
Help Support This Site
Site Information

About This Site

Contact Us

Home > Articles > CIS Football > Gaels reunite to celebrate 35th anniversary of 1978 College Bowl victory

Gaels reunite to celebrate 35th anniversary of 1978 College Bowl victory

Posted: October 4th, 2013 @ 8:15pm


If it's possible to capture the essence of a football team from one play in a storied season, for the Queen's Golden Gaels, 1978 edition, it just may have happened one late October afternoon.

It was the first round of playoffs and the Carleton Ravens were the opponents. Two weeks earlier, Queen's had handled the Ravens convincingly, so it was perhaps only natural that the Gaels were busy looking past the visitors to draw a bead on the McGill Redmen, who they would face in the following week's conference final.

The Gaels shouldn't have been so cavalier. A team Queen's beat 26-3 two weeks earlier took the undefeated Gaels to overtime and had the ball on the Queen's one-yard line. With the season possibly in the balance, in the huddle two players, Ross Francis and Ed Andrew, improvised a defensive plan.

As defensive co-ordinator John Thomson scratched his head on the sideline the Gaels lined up in what's known as a 62 set. "It puts six men on the line and two linebackers are free, Paul Langevin and myself," Ed Andrew recalled the other day. "They had a split backfield and all they were doing were turning and handing off to one of the backs. That left Paul and myself man-on-man on the running backs.

"It was a perfect defence," Andrew continued. "It was one of those things that we didn't have in our repertoire but we'd used it in high school and it seemed to work so we called it."

Carleton was stopped, and then stopped again. The half ended and Queen's ultimately won the game, sustaining an undefeated record that led all the way through what was then known as the College Bowl. It's a championship season that will be remembered this weekend by 35 members of that team who are reuniting to mark its 35th anniversary as part of Queen's Homecoming.

"It was funny," Andrew chuckled at the recollection that defensive captain Jim D'Andrea, a law student, had missed practice that week. "We were in the huddle and Ross and I were talking, 'Let's do a 62,' and Jimmy D'Andrea looked at - I think it was John Vernon - and says 'What do I do in this defence?' and John Vernon goes, 'I don't know, I thought you'd tell me.'"

Thus, the essence of that group was encapsulated in that one huddle - smart enough to identify a solution to an imminent problem, sufficiently gifted to execute the plan and just enough irreverence to keep calm while doing so.

"Our group of players was unique in that it was a great blend of athletes who were talented, as well as people who were intelligent, as well as characters that sort of broke the ice and kept everybody in good humour all the time," Andrew said. "Every winning team has got to have that combination. It doesn't come together very often, but when it does, it's magic, and everything works."

As it did that year for the Gaels, who won Queen's second national intercollegiate championship, its first since 1968, without once experiencing defeat.

Undefeated seasons don't happen very often, Dr. Jim Rutka said, "so when it does, we were all obviously thrilled.

"It was fantastic."

Rutka, a neurosurgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and chair of surgery at the University of Toronto, was the quarterback of that team. He'd come to Queen's the season before to study medicine after getting his undergraduate degree at Princeton, where he'd been a wingback, a position he had no desire to play when he returned to Canada.

"It was it was my love to play quarterback," he recalled.

In any conversation with any member of that team, it doesn't take long to get around to the belief that the Gaels never were afforded due respect. Despite having the best defensive record in the land, only one Queen's player - Dick Bakker - was named all-Canadian. Even in the final week of the season, when Queen's and its College Bowl opponent, British Columbia, were the only teams still alive, the Gaels were ranked No. 3 - even though Queen's had been the country's last undefeated team for the final six weeks of the season.

"With each passing week, despite the fact that we were undefeated, the newspapers were never in a position to put us ranked No. 1," Rutka said. "We were underdogs all year. It was one of those bittersweet moments in the end when we won. It was nice to be vindicated, to be the champions and to be clearly No. 1.

"It was a wonderful feeling in the end."

It's a feeling D'Andrea says he was sure all along he'd experience.

"When we lost in the Atlantic Bowl the year before everybody sort of looked at each other in the locker room and said, 'OK, we know what we need to do and we're going to do it,'" he said. "From the first day of training camp it was obvious to me this was a championship team.

"I had no doubt we were going to win. No doubt. We knew we could get there because we had gotten to the Atlantic Bowl the year before. We knew what it took. Everybody had this desire to say we're better than that game in the Atlantic Bowl."

Andrew remembered the feeling.

"Randy Edgeworth was a great leader for us," he said. "After we lost in Halifax in '77, Randy really took the lead in bringing everybody together and saying that's not going to happen next year. His catch phrase was, 'We're a team, we're like a chain, make sure you're not the weakest link.'

"Everybody worked their butts off in the wintertime. We came back a lot stronger with a single purpose, to win the Vanier Cup."

D'Andrea, a Calgary lawyer who also owns a winery in the Okanagan Valley, characterized the team as "a bunch of great guys who really enjoyed each other."

"We were a great team, to the fullest extent," he said. "It wasn't that we had individual superstars. We did have superstars but our whole team was very talented. Our strength was in acting as a team. The way everybody knew what their role and position was and how to interact that was the key to our success.

"There was great camaraderie. There were no issues like if the defence allowed a touchdown, the offence would be mad or if the offence fumbled, the defence would be mad. It was quite the opposite. It was, 'Don't worry about it. We'll pick it up.'"

Doug Hargreaves was the coach of that team. Andrew and Hargreaves arrived at Queen's in the same year, 1976, and Andrew recalled that the coach didn't necessarily endear himself to his players when he instituted a three-a-day workout regime.

"The veterans hated it," Andrew said. "They were used to Frank Tindall, who was more laid back. I was a rookie. I didn't know any better. Doug ruffled a lot of feathers but he wanted to put his thumbprint on the team and that was his way of doing it."

Andrew said the wisdom of Hargreaves' coaching wasn't apparent at the time, but it eventually became obvious.

"Doug was a good coach," he said. "He wasn't the players' buddy but he did that on purpose. He let his unit coaches become friends with the players and he implemented all the tough decisions. When we were players, we didn't understand that but it was the way to do it.

"I've come to appreciate that and admire him for it. It was certainly the right way to handle our group."

Andrew recalled a game at McGill. "They were supposed to be the big powerhouse that year. They were undefeated, we were undefeated and we beat them fairly handily.

"That was a big win for us, so much so that Doug, who would never come back on the bus with us, he'd always drive home with Norma and his family, but that day he decided to come back on the bus because it was such a big win he wanted to be with the team."

Queen's beat McGill 23-1 to win the Yates Cup, and St. Francis Xavier 32-10 in the Atlantic Bowl, reversing the 35-22 defeat they'd suffered at the hands of Acadia the year before. On the horizon was British Columbia, the Canada West champion that was ranked No. 1.

The game was played at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, and 19,124 fans attended, including an estimated 8,000 students who'd made the trip from Kingston.

"You're in awe when you first come out on the field," Andrew said. "The field at U of T was a beautiful field, a great place to play, and the stands were full."

D'Andrea echoes the sentiment. "I remember all the signs in the stands," he said. "The temperature was great, it was a little bit overcast. In my view it was a perfect day to play. The field conditions were fine so the teams could demonstrate what they wanted to do."

Not so fast. The respective defences quickly made it clear they would have something to say about that. The first quarter was scoreless, the game was tied 3-3 at halftime and Queen's was still nursing a 6-3 lead going into the final five minutes of a game that was still waiting for its first touchdown.

"It was a defensive battle for the most part," Rutka recalled. "We all anticipated it would be a high-scoring game but it was the opposite. It was the defence that held things in check on both sides, but our defensive team in particular was very strong that day.

"The UBC team had scouted us pretty well and knew what our strengths were. At that time we were a pretty successful passing team. They had a good defence that read our offence well and I can recall not being able to be as effective with our passing offence as I hoped. Our running offence came to the forefront and was very important for us in that game."

D'Andrea recalled a game where the Gaels were preventing UBC from scoring, but were spending way too much time in their own end of the field for comfort.

"B.C. had us pinned in our end for a number of plays where we were basically kicking out of our end zone or the five-yard line," D'Andrea said. "We'd be turning the ball over and we'd have to stop them again.

"I remember as I was coming off after we had stopped UBC on another occasion coming up to Randy Edgeworth and saying, 'Randy, we're tired, you guys got to move the ball.' And I remember him saying, 'No problem.' The next thing I know (the offence) went in and they started marching the ball down the field, out of any sort of danger.

"That's just the way it was. One part of the team would pick up the other."

Special teams were prominent that day, as Queen's set College Bowl records for number of punts and total yards punting (Tim Wardrop), number of punt returns and punt return yardage by an individual (Macartney) and a team, some of which still stand.

"I remember screwing up once more than anything," Andrew recalled, when asked for a personal memory. "I was so mad at myself. I took a penalty that took them into field goal range. I tried my damnedest to block the kick and it went off my fingers but I didn't get it. That's how they got the three points.

"I felt responsible, so you sort of step up and try to play better after that."

(Editor's note: He did. Andrew was subsequently named most valuable player of the game)

"We felt we knew them inside and out," Andrew said. "John Thomson had done a great job breaking down film. Whenever they went into a different set or a different formation, we knew exactly what the play was going to be."

The pivotal play in the game came late in the fourth quarter. Wardrop punted into the B.C. end zone and instead of giving up a single point that would have given Queen's a 7-3 lead - and required B.C. to score a touchdown to go ahead, instead of a field goal to force overtime - Thunderbirds back Jack Hirose instead chose to run the ball out.

It proved to be a horrible mistake. He got to the four-yard line and fumbled. Queen's recovered the ball and Dave Marinucci scored the game's only touchdown on the very next play. Queen's led 13-3 with three and a half minutes to play and the game was virtually in the bag.

"It was fun," Andrew said. "At the end of the game I almost felt cheated, thinking 'OK, who do we play next? Don't tell me have to stop playing, because we're playing great,' but there was nothing left to play for.

"We knew going in that we weren't the favourites and we knew that we didn't get much recognition," he continued, "but that game kind of put Queen's on the map for the next number of years. People paid attention to us."

For one member of that team, the Vanier Cup trail didn't end in the gloaming late that Saturday afternoon in Toronto. Thirty-one years and 10 days later, on a day very much like the one when he hoisted the Vanier Cup, Jim D'Andrea was in Quebec City to watch his son, Ben, celebrate another Queen's national championship.

"That was a dream come true," Jim said. "It's hard to describe in words, when you see your son out there, wearing the same number you did, being part of a championship team.

"You can't explain that to anybody until they actually experience it. It was certainly one of the highlights of my life."

College Bowl trivia

* Tony Manastersky led Queen's with 98 yards rushing

* Queen's forced four fumbles and recovered all of them

* For tackle Julian Hanlon it was his second undefeated national championship season. He'd been a member of the Ottawa Gee-Gees in 1975.

Queen's set eight records in that game:

* Most punts in a game, 15, by Tim Wardrop (now tied with two others)

* Most punt yardage in a game, 610, Wardrop (record still stands)

* Most punt returns in a game, 12, by Tom Macartney (still two more than anyone else in the history of the game)

* Most punt-return yards in a game, 159, by Macartney (still 26 more than anyone else)

* Most punt-return yards by a team, 196 (still 37 more than anyone else)

* Most punt returns in a game by a team, 15 (shared that day with UBC, since tied once more)

* Most field goals in a game, 3, by By Blaine Shore (since surpassed by several)

* Fewest points allowed in a game, 3 (stood until 1992 when a Queen's offence, co-ordinated by Bob Mullen - a member of the 1978 team - defeated Saint Mary's 31-0 for the only shutout in Vanier Cup history)
Related Articles:

Support sportkingston

Thank You To All Our Generous Supporters!
We Need Your Help Too!
Help Support This Site
Follow sportkingston

Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Twitter
Recent Stories

He coached young men, not just football players
All done
Queen's athletes win major volleyball awards
To buy or not to buy
QE splits two games at EOSSAA single-A basketball
KC downs Frontenac in EOSSAA basketball final
Weekend defeats send Gaels to preliminary playoff round
Queen's to host men's basketball playoff Wednesday
High school volleyball matches tonight at Regi
EOSSAA will try again to play basketball Tuesday

Amateur Sport



CIS Football

Cross Country


Field hockey


Frontenacs 50th

Grenadiers Football

High School Sports


Intercollegiate Sport

Junior Hockey

Kingston Kings


Napanee Express


Pan Am Games

Queen's football

RMC Looking Back





Today In Jr. Hockey Playoff History

Track and field



Looking for a specific article, person, event, or subject?

Management Login

Powered By FlexCMS
Powered By FlexCMS