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Reducing mistakes vital for Grenadiers in playoff match Sunday
Posted: July 31st, 2014 @ 10:50pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
You can go on an adventure like a Hobbit - with wide-eyed anticipation.
Or you can undertake an adventure like a member of the Kingston Grenadiers football team - with trepidation.
The common denominator, of course, is adventurers seldom know what awaits them, which is fine if you happen to be chasing a ring, but not so much for a football team that has prepared assiduously for its upcoming foe.
"We've made Saturdays and Sundays something of an adventure lately," varsity Grenadiers coach Bob Mullen said Thursday, after his team's final practice before facing the Cornwall Wildcats Sunday afternoon in an Ontario Varsity Football League Wettges division semifinal in Cornwall.
"Our best game is still in us," he continued. "Hopefully we'll pry it out on Sunday."
The Grenadiers' regular-season contest with Cornwall - won in Week 4 by the Wildcats 17-16, a victory that ultimately cost Kingston home field for this match - was characterized by missed opportunities.
In the six weeks since then, the Grenadiers haven't exactly solved that problem. Last week, for instance, when a field goal in overtime gave them a 31-28 win over Metro Toronto, the Grens led 21-7 at one point but found themselves trailing 28-21 with less than two minutes to play.
"We made a lot of mistakes last weekend," Mullen said. "We had to gut that one out.
"In all aspects of the game we've got to be working towards fewer errors, fewer breakdowns, fewer mistakes, and this is the time of the season when you either do that or go home."
Cornwall, 6-2 in the regular year, had a first-round playoff bye last week. The Wildcats won five in a row to end the season after a 1-2 start but they're statistically nondescript, with the eighth best offence among the league's 12 playoff teams and the sixth-best defence, in terms of points scored and allowed.
Kingston, 5-3 but winner of four of its last five after a 2-2 start, had both the fourth most potent offence and the fourth stingiest defence, one that posted 14 interceptions during the regular year.
"Cornwall's going to be excited," Mullen predicted. "They're tough defensively and their quarterback has really helped them."
Alex Douglas has thrown for just 588 yards this year, completing 46 of 93 attempts for a success rate a hair below 50 per cent. Of note, however, is the 93 attempts resulted in just one interception.
Mullen said Douglas was the difference when the teams met for the first time this year.
"It was his first start for them, and he made plays with his feet," Mullen said. "He extended the plays and got outside us. He's a nifty little runner in the box who sort of navigates his way out of the pocket and we had a hard time containing and controlling him. We've got to do a much better job of that.
"Offensively they don't sustain a lot. They've got a running back who's a real good in-the-box runner who cuts back well, so we've got to be disciplined in taking care of that.
"We've got to make them beat us by throwing the ball."
The teams will play at Joe St. Denis Field, with kickoff at 3 o'clock.
In the other semifinal, Ottawa Myers Riders, 7-1, will host the Toronto Thunder, 5-3-1, on Saturday.
The junior varsity Grenadiers will be on the road Saturday for their conference semifinal, facing the Ottawa Myers Riders at 2:45 p.m. at Minto Field. Kingston, 3-5 in the regular schedule, upset the Toronto Thunder 24-23 in its first-round playoff game a week ago. Ottawa, 7-1, had a first-round bye.
When the teams met on opening day in Kingston, Ottawa prevailed 38-15.
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