MONTREAL, QC – The 2022 Dunsmore Cup–Quebec’s annual university football championship–closed out the U SPORTS RSEQ season with a bang last November. The Laval Rouge et Or defeated the Montreal Carabins 24-23 on a last-second rouge to be crowned provincial champions.
The beginning of a new RSEQ football season is drawing ever nearer. All five teams–Laval Rouge et Or, Montreal Carabins, Sherbrooke Vert et Or, Concordia Stingers, and McGill Redbirds–have begun practicing. There is always a certain buzz around Quebec football, perhaps more so right now. After all, the Quebec champion has won six of the past 10 Vanier Cups to be crowned national champions.
But even further, Victoriaville native Matthew Bergeron became the highest-ever Quebec-born player selected in the NFL Draft, going 38th overall to the Atlanta Falcons in April. Eight RSEQ players were selected in the 2023 Canadian Football League Draft. Now is as good a time as any to tune into RSEQ football.
You’ll be able to do so on TVA Sports, which is entering the 9th season of its partnership with the RSEQ. TVA Sports will show 11 games this season, including the season-opener on August 25. Some schools also do webcasts for their team’s games.
With the season just two weeks out, let’s look at how it could shape up.
Contender #1: Laval Rouge et Or
It’s impossible to put anybody else in this spot. Laval defeated the University of Saskatchewan Huskies 30-24 to capture their nation-leading 11th Vanier Cup. They have ten-time Vanier Cup champion and all-time RSEQ wins leader Glen Constantin as head coach.
Offence is the name of the game for the Rouge et Or. They boasted the best scoring offence (34.2 points per game) in the RSEQ last season, 11.1 points per game higher than second-place Concordia. Quarterback Arnaud Desjardins is entering his third season. The Montreal native led all of U SPORTS in touchdown passes (20), completion percentage (73.0%), and finished second in passing yards (2,555) a year ago. He was an RSEQ all-star and U SPORTS 1st-team all-star. He could be the best university quarterback in the country, let alone the Quebec conference.
It’s clear that they are the top contender when they had the best scoring defence in 2022 (14 points per game) while being known for offence. Kicker Vincent Blanchard led the RSEQ in field goal percentage last season while also going a perfect 28/28 on extra-point conversions. If there are any flaws in this Laval roster, they are certainly difficult to find.
Contender #2: Montreal Carabins
Changing gears from a blistering offence to a daunting defence, the Dunsmore Cup runner-up has a good chance of making it back this season. Their 33 sacks in 2022 led the RSEQ by a country mile. They had the second-best scoring defence (15.5 points per game) behind Laval and owned the best total defence (272 yards per game) in the conference.
Montreal has lost two important pieces in linebacker Michael Brodrique and running back Bertrand Beaulieu. Both of them were drafted by the Edmonton Elks of the CFL. Brodrique was seventh in the RSEQ with 32 tackles and added 3.5 sacks in 2022, while Beaulieu was the second-best rusher in the conference with 447 yards.
But their roster remains mostly intact. Reigning RSEQ sack leader Nicky Farinaccio is entering his third season, as is defensive lineman Christopher Fontenard, who registered four sacks a year ago. Montreal will have no trouble making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks in 2023.
On the offensive side, quarterback Jonathan Senecal is entering his third season. Montreal had the worst scoring offence in 2022 at 20.4 points per game, but despite that, Senecal finished second in the RSEQ in passing yards (2,187) and completion percentage (63.2%). With star wide receiver Alexandre Jones Dudley also entering his third season, Montreal’s offence has a lot of potential.
If anybody is going to take down the Rouge et Or machine, it’s going to be Montreal.
Sleeper Pick: McGill Redbirds
The RSEQ’s worst team in 2022 should see a big resurgence. Many players on McGill’s defensive unit were in their first or second season. Now that they have some more experience, they should be able to better support their offence.
Speaking of which, McGill simply needs to pick up where they left off on the offensive side of the ball. With the second-best total offence (368.2 yards per game) in 2022, that was hardly the problem. Wide receiver Darius Simmons–whose 601 receiving yards were second-most last year–is entering his third season.
But the biggest reason McGill could surprise is because of the man below.
Player to Watch: Eloa Latendresse-Regimbald (Quarterback, McGill)
As the first ever McGill quarterback to lead the RSEQ in rushing (602 yards), the 6-foot-4 signal-caller was named the RSEQ’s most outstanding rookie and offensive rookie of the year in 2022. He established himself as a dual-threat by passing for 2004 yards in eight games. Entering his second season, he could turn McGill’s already high-flying offence into a powerhouse.