Blues don't know suffering

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

You'd think a guy like P.J. Edgeworth, having absorbed so many unmerciful football beatings, might show a bit of compassion now that he finally has the whip in his hand.

Think again.

When defensive back Nick Kordic spoke of the Western Mustangs' goal of shutting out the University of Toronto today in their season opener in Toronto, Edgeworth brightened visibly.

He was on the other side of wipeouts so long as captain of the York University Yeoman the cleat-marks remain on his consciousness. Edgeworth's entire intercollegiate career was spent shaking hands with the winners.

In all, York went down to defeat 35 straight times during his time there en route to an abysmal record of 43 consecutive losses.

Feel for U of T? Ha, the Blues, on a losing streak a mere 24 games, don't know what suffering is.

Odds tell you the 25th will come today. Yes, yes, strange things happen in football. You can't rule out the heavens parting to reveal a massive hand pushing Toronto past Western or something.

But realistically, it would take divine intervention. Things haven't changed much since last season's 72-8 Western win. Toronto has improved a bit, Western a lot.

Guys such as Kordic, who had a hand in the wipeout, is concerned only with what the Mustangs concede, not what the offence amasses. He likes the number zero. Having nothing on their minds takes on new meaning.

"We haven't had a shutout for a while (1996, 47-0 over Windsor) and that's what we're looking for," third-year safety Kordic said.

"Our defence is better. We're expecting really big things and the biggest is a shutout against U of T. Not to take anything away from them but we won't be satisfied unless it happens."

Last time Western managed it against Toronto was 1957, when they won 15-0. Their 2000 game ended 40-1 and it was 43-1 a year later.

Edgeworth's career as a wide receiver was spent trying not to get blanked.

"That (a shutout) is one of our goals but they're a better team, on paper, than last year," the Mustangs defensive backs coach said. "I don't think it's going to be 70-0 or anything like that. In fact, I suspect Toronto is glad to be playing us first. What we have in the playbook is not what we'll have in the playbook six weeks from now."

Western is equally glad to be playing Toronto. The likelihood of getting a solid lead and giving a wider range of players a look is of immense benefit.

Training camp moulds the final roster only up to a point. A live action casting call helps answer a lot of questions.

Mustang hopes of keeping Toronto off the scoreboard sounds rather dismissive of the opponent but the reality is undeniable. The once-mighty Blues have become an embarrassment to the OUA, their two victories in 46 games a resounding indictment.

This season, a year after allowing a 450-point opposition rampage across their eight losses, Toronto is pinning some defensive hopes on a couple of 300-pound newcomers, six-foot-seven University of Iowa grad Kyle Ewinger and six-foot-five Andre Doyle from Akron.

But they will be seeing a strengthened Mustangs' backfield with a new Mustangs logo appropriately showing four legs on the horse where previously, the rear right leg was hidden by the rear left.

Three of the veteran backs are London products -- Mike Bonk and Waterloo arrival Jay Akindolire splitting fullback, a more muscular Randy McAuley at running back and the deceptive D.J. Bennett at running back. There also are first-rate rookies.

Toronto also will see the No. 1 pass-catcher in Canadian university football history as Andy Fantuz, with special padding imported from the U.S. protecting an injured thigh muscle, making cameo appearances.

"A shutout would be nice but let's start with a W (win) and work backward," Edgeworth said.


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