Not just another football game for Ravens and Gee-Gees
Darren Desaulniers
Published:
October 4, 2019


Updated:
October 4, 2019 11:51 AM MDT


Filed Under:


Edmonton Sun Sports Football
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Just another Saturday football game for the Carleton Ravens and University of Ottawa Gee-Gees.


I think not.


While the 51st Panda Game between the two school kicks off at noon Saturday at TD Place, the head coaches of both schools are viewing the days leading up to the Battle for Pedro in different ways.


Coach Steve Sumarah of the Ravens feels all the activities surrounding Panda Week are making for a long wait.


Gee-Gees coach Jamie Barresi, on the other hand, not so much, saying “it’s kind of fast to be honest with you. It’s going quick. We’re anxious to get going, no doubt about it, and it’s a normal week that way. It’s not a normal game but it’s a normal week.”


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From Sumarah’s perspective, “there’s just more going on around it and it just feels like, ’holy crap, can we just focus on the game’. Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that there’s all kinds of excitement and energy and all that, but when you talk about just the football standpoint, this week feels like about six,”


Time is a concept, but whatever the view the fact is this will be the biggest game of the year for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the crowd which is pegged at over 24,000.


There’s more to it than that though as following the game each side will have just two games remaining in the regular season as they push towards the playoffs and while the two are separated but just a game- the Ravens are 2-3 and the Gee-Gees 3-2- the result of this game will have massive implications.


“From where we are, standings wise, we have to treat it as just another game. The reality is though, it’s hard. From our standpoint we just have to focus on the fact we’re playing Ottawa U and it doesn’t matter if there’s two people there or 25,000,” Sumarah said.


“Season-changing game for us for sure.


A loss for the Ravens and their post-season aspirations may be done. A Gee-Gees loss is far less massive as they can still control their destiny for a playoff berth.


“The implications are very significant. First of all it’s THE game of the year. Put the standings aside, it’s a huge game for the schools, it’s a huge game for Alumni and it’s had a lot of significance for 50 years now. That is one thing but mix in the fact the standings are what they are, it’s very significant and it adds to it,” Barresi said.


“For the fans it’s great and it’s a great spectacle. Our guys realize the implications but at the same time you have to downplay it and just play a game. They do understand the tradition involved, they do understand the playoff implications but at the same time we have to temper it.”


That may not be so easy once all the first-year players encounter the atmosphere of a playing in a packed stadium like they’ve never done before. Luckily there are veteran players that will be able to reduce the angst of their younger teammates.


“We address it with them and we talk about it every night,” Barresi explained.


“We’ve got a group of kids that have been through this several times and I know they have a lot of influence, probably more so than I do. Their demeanor and interactions with the other players I’m sure will rub off. They’ll get over (the crowd size) quick.”


If anything, previous Panda Games has taught us to expect the unexpected, so managing the different waves, as Sumarah put it, could be determining factor in the end result.


“This game has been proven over years that it doesn’t matter who the best team is, crazy things go on and you just have to ride it out. If you don’t and you get caught up in all the moments of he game then you’re in real trouble,” Sumarah said, adding a quick start either on offence or defence will help.


“That’s going to be huge to get dialed into the game. We’ve got a lot of first year dressers that are playing in this game for the first time and will have some wow moments for sure.”


Just another Saturday my foot.