Cougars steamroll Montmorency, clinch playoff bye

Violettepixel/ Violette Héon-Pelletier
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By Dan Gilbert
Special to The Record

They still have one more game on their regular season calendar, but the Cougars will be resting at home for the start of the 2015 CEGEP Division 1 playoffs. The only question left is who they’ll match up with in the semifinal after a decisive 48-11 victory over Montmorency this past Saturday at Coulter Field allowed them to punch a ticket to the postseason and earn a first-round bye.

A cloudy afternoon featuring a cold wind and the odd spell of snow didn’t prevent Champlain from taking care of business on their home field. After another dominant display in all three phases, the undefeated Cougars, who now stand at 8-0, moved one step closer to achieving a perfect season - a feat the school hasn’t accomplished since 2008.

Quarterback Michael Arruda carried his confidence over from last week when he put his team on the board first with a rushing touchdown. The reigning league MVP completed 9-of-18 pass attempts for 258 yards and one major. But it was his teammate Guillaume Conraud-Ares, who split receiving and rushing duties, that did most of the damage, accumulating 205 all-purpose yards and scoring three touchdowns on the day.

The offence once again proved to be a well-oiled machine, however for the most part, the name of the game was defence; Champlain’s stout defensive corps held Montmorency scoreless until the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, when a Bruno Labelle major led to the only points scored by the opposing offence.

The remaining Nomades points were a result of two sacks, both of which also occurred in garbage time when head coach Jean-François Joncas experimented with his second and third string players. The Cougars finished with a total of eight sacks to go with three interceptions.

“Our defence has played well all year long. It’s been that way since our second or third game of the season,” Joncas said about his unit. “We were solid against the run, had a few lapses against the pass but we had some young kids in towards the end of the game so they’re just learning and hopefully they won’t repeat those mistakes if they have a chance to play again.”

On what the focus should be heading into the playoffs, coach added: “There’s still a lot of stuff we need to work on. Even if we’re winning, we’re not 100 per cent happy with our performance. We know we can do stuff better and faster, so we’ll use the time we have between now and our next game to work hard on all those details and be ready for whoever we meet in the playoffs.”

Champlain will look to put an exclamation point on their unblemished season when they take to the road and play the Vieux-Montréal Spartiates on Saturday in Montreal. Regardless of the outcome, the Cougars are assured to return to Coulter Field for their semifinal contest against an undetermined adversary on Nov. 7. The winner will advance to compete for the ultimate prize at the Bol d’Or in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu the following week.

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