Western the favourite heading into 2022 Yates Cup rematch against Queen’s

Comparing offence, defence and special teams to see who has the edge in the 2022 Yates Cup

The 2022 OUA Football season has come down to its final day. On Saturday, Nov.12, the Queen’s Gaels head to Alumni Stadium on the campus of Western University for a rematch of the 2021 Yates Cup against the Western Mustangs. 

The Mustangs reached the final thanks to a 45-9 win over the Laurier Golden Hawks in the semifinal, while the Gaels took down the Ottawa Gee-Gees 35-13. 

The Mustangs already took down Queen’s once this season with a 35-11 win in week three, but the 2022 Yates Cup is still clearly a battle of the top two teams in the conference. So let’s break down the comparison.



Keon Edwards (Greg Kolz)

Leading the OUA with 535 yards per game, the Western Mustangs had an unstoppable offensive unit in 2022. Evan Hillock threw for 16 touchdown passes to top the conference, with Savaughn Magnaye-Jones leading the OUA with nine reception touchdowns on his own. 

At the same time, Keon Edwards led the OUA in rushing yards with 1032 and ran in nine touchdowns himself on his way to an OUA MVP award. 

Western ended the year leading in almost every major category and continued in the playoffs. Even though Evan Hillock only threw for 139 yards, five rushing touchdowns helped Western to a 32-point win over Laurier. 


Alex Vreeken (Queen’s Athletics)

The Gaels had what could be classified as the second-best offensive unit in the conference in 2022, but that doesn’t discount what they were able to do. Sophomore running back Anthony Soles had a breakout season in 2022 with 11 rushing touchdowns to lead the OUA. The significant change for the Gaels has been at quarterback as senior James Keenan suffered an injury in the Gaels’ 62-11 win over Guelph on Sept. 24, which handed the ball over to sophomore Alex Vreeken. 

Vreeken threw two touchdowns in the blowout win over Guelph and then three more in a 61-2 win over York the following week but only has one in the five games since. 

Advantage – Western: No matter what can be said about the Gaels, no team in the OUA has been able to match Western on offence this season.



Daniel Valente Jr (Brandon VandeCaveye/Western Athletics)

In the same way the Mustangs’ offence dominated the OUA, the Mustangs’ defence did much of the same (albeit with some closer competitors). The arguments are pretty simple for Western on the defensive end, the lowest points-per-game allowed and lowest passing and rushing yards-per-game allowed are the reason they are the number one defensive in the province. 

Breaking it down even further, Free Safety Daniel Valente Jr won Outstanding Stand-Up Defensive Player in the OUA thanks to leading the conference with five interceptions and 116 interception yards. His teammate followed closely behind him, with Robert Panabaker tied for second with four interceptions as the two combined for nine of the Mustang’s ten on the season. 

Bruce Maas tied for the top spot in the OUA with Carleton’s Shaiheem Charles Brown with 6.5 sacks.


Silas Hubert (Queen’s Athletics)

Compared to the Mustangs, the Gaels’ #4-ranked defence is not as strong but still comes in with valuable pieces. The centrepiece of the Gaels’ defence is sophomore lineman Silas Hubert, who picked up the OUA Lineman of the Year award by finishing second in the league with six sacks and adding 22 tackles on top. 

The Gaels were another side that specialized in interceptions in 2022 as they finished tied with the Mustangs with 10, paced by sophomore Ashton Miller-Melancon with three. 

In the playoffs, after he ran for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Windsor Lancers, the Gaels defence held Ottawa star running back J-P Cimankinda to 78 yards and a fumble, which was one of the few ways they shut down the Gee-Gees offence to book their ticket to Western.

Advantage – Western: The Gaels have strong defensive pieces, but the Mustangs finishing with the best defence in the OUA and three of the best individual defensive performances gives them the edge. 

Special Teams


Seth Robertson (Brandon VandeCaveye/Western Athletics)

For returns this season, the Mustangs split things up, giving sophomore running back Keanu Yazbeck the majority of kick returns and sophomore receiver Seth Robertson the majority of punt returns. 

Robertson averaged 7.2 yards-per-return on punts, while Yazbeck brought 23.1 yards-per-return on kicks. Ultimately ten different Mustangs split returning duty in the 2022 season, but none brought in a touchdown for Western. 

Turning to kicking duties, sophomore Brian Garrity was 14/17 for Western from an average of 43 yards. Garrity and Cameron Creechan split punting duties almost equally for an average of 36.8 yards per punt.


Tyler Mullan (Queen’s Athletics)

The Gaels gave the majority of returning duties to Aidan O’Neal in the regular season, who averaged 21.5 yards per kick return and 9.2 yards per punt return. The most successful return for Queen’s was Jaden Blackman, who opened the 2022 season with a 115-yard punt return touchdown against the Varsity Blues, Queen’s only return TD of the year. 

Regarding special teams by the boot, Tyler Mullan was a perfect 17/17 from field goal range, while Aayden Callahan averaged 33.7 yards per punt for the Gaels.

Advantage – Queen’s: It’s tight, but the Gaels have the advantage thanks mainly to a perfect performance from Tyler Mullan, who has not missed a single field goal or extra point attempt this season.


The Queen’s Gaels lost to the Mustangs in the Yates Cup game a year ago and will be looking for revenge, but it just does not feel like the big purple machine from London, Ontario, can be stopped this year. 

Prediction: Western wins 42 – 17 

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