CFC OVFL Game of the Week Preview: The nine hour dilemma

After a week without a game, both the junior varsity and varsity Cambridge Lions of the Ontario Varsity Football League are ready for their season finale in Sault Ste Marie this weekend against the Sabrecats.

Even though both teams had a bye this past weekend, both Lions Head Coaches Anthony Maggiacomo (varsity) and Gary Skalos (junior varsity) have contrasting strategies in preparation of their final regular season game.

After a disappointing loss to the London Jr. Mustangs two weeks ago, Maggiacomo decided to take advantage of the bye week.

“We had a back to basics approach, using the extra practices to focus more on skill development as opposed to game planning,” commented Maggiacomo.  “The London game was a lesson that we cannot take anything for granted, and as such that is how we approached the bye week.”

“As a coaching staff, we think the back to basics approach will help refocus us as a team as we head up north and face off with the Sault in a game that will determine third place in the conference.”

Meanwhile, Skalos said the junior varsity Lions deserved a much needed break after a dominant win over the Mustangs a TD Waterhouse Stadium.

“We needed the time to rest, get healthy and prepare ourselves for what we hope will be a deep run into the playoffs,” said Skalos.

One obstacle for both teams for this upcoming weekend is the nine hour drive to Sault Ste Marie.  However, both coaches believe there is enough focus from their players to overcome the long trip.

“A nine hour bus ride is really tough; however, the Sabercats do it every two weeks, so it can’t be an excuse for us,” said Skalos.  “The two games that we have lost in the last two years were both played in Essex – a three hour bus ride.”

“In both games, we were extremely flat and uninspired, so we have to find a way to prevent that type of malaise. Luckily we arrive in SSM around 9:30 on Friday night, so we should get a good night sleep and be ready to play Saturday. Knowing that a victory secures a first round playoff bye, I’m sure that our guys will be primed and ready.”

Maggiacomo believed the varsity Lions can keep their focus on the significance of Saturday’s game.

“A nine hour drive is never ideal,” said Maggiacomo.  “Staying in a hotel the night before will add a new distraction for our team.”

“We will rely on our veterans to keep our team focused. We have approached each game all year as separate individual challenges, and this will just be one more challenge for us to focus on overcoming. We have been relatively successful with this approach, and our team has not given any reason why we cannot be successful one more time,.”

The junior varsity game is set for 1:00pm with the varsity game to follow at 4:00pm at Superior Heights High School.

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