Banged-up Stephenson chasing OUA mark

RYAN PYETTE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

The Western football team is reeling but it still might be in better shape -- at least physically -- than its next opponent: the Windsor Lancers.

Heading into the Homecoming showdown on Saturday at 1 p.m. at TD Waterhouse Stadium, the Mustangs (0-4) are facing a Windsor squad with a 1-3 record and an offence decimated by injuries.

Windsor running back and reigning Hec Crighton award winner Daryl Stephenson of London has a chance to pass Jesse Lumsden for top spot on Ontario university football's career rushing list in his hometown. The fourth-year star and Clarke Road grad needs 59 yards to achieve the milestone but every carry this season has been painful.

"Daryl hasn't been in pads all year -- except on game day," Windsor head coach Mike Morencie said. "He hurt his back working out at the start of the year. Then against Laurier (in the second week), he injured his hip so he hasn't been right all season. We've cut his carries way back because of it."

Stephenson managed 109 yards in last week's loss to Queen's to surpass the 4,000-yard mark for his university career. He is expected to return for a fifth season next year and should finish his career as Canadian university's all-time leading rusher.

"I've talked to Daryl about next year and I think, academically, it makes sense for him," Morencie said. "He could get a Master's degree in H.K. (human kinetics) and then, if he wants, go to teacher's college. He wants this program to win and if it takes him coming back for a fifth year, he's willing to do that."

There is a sour feeling in Windsor that sick bay has sucked the wind out of a promising season. The Mustangs, who are hoping to have all-star safety Matt Carapella back in the lineup this week, will be fighting for their playoff lives against the Lancers, who are in the same drastic situation.

"I look over and there's Daryl --he hasn't been healthy all year, (quarterback Dan) Lumley was limping, (receiver) Glenn MacKay is wearing an ice pack after hurting his knee on a kickoff return and I said, 'There's our offence right there,'" Morencie said. "I counted seven guys wearing knee braces at practice the other night -- all key players. I want to know who's making all the money off selling knee braces.

"I haven't seen a year with this many injuries. Last year, we didn't have one. Some years are like that."

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STEPHENSON'S QUEST

The top five rushers in Canadian university football history

1. Dominic Zagari, Manitoba 1991-95 4,738 yards

2. Eric Lapointe, Mount Allison 1995-98 4,666 yards

3. Jesse Lumsden, McMaster 2001-04 4,138 yards

4. Doug Rozon, Saskatchewan 1995-99 4,086 yards

5. Daryl Stephenson, Windsor 2004-07 4,080 yards


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