Outside of the Vanier Cup at the end of the season, the Panda Game, taken place at TD Place stadium, the home of the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks is the biggest college football game in Canada and it is taking place this weekend. The inner city rivalry between both the Carleton University Ravens and University of Ottawa Gee Gees always makes up for a great game, and a great atmosphere. With the game being played this Saturday, October 2nd, there is a lot of excitement in the air and all eyes are on the local playmakers.
On the Carleton Ravens is local quarterback Tanner Dejong, running backs Nathan Carter, Aidan Arnott-Smith and Ethan Rocha, receivers Kaseem Ferdinand, Ben Huckabone, Tristan Ready, Nick Renaud and Kerwin Guiste, offensive linemen Jesse Tamming, Kyle Sonnenburg, Michael Lightbody and Tyler Draper, defensive linemen Jayden Delorme, Trey O’Brien and Owen Ford, linebacker Malik Yusuf, defensive back Denny Ferdinand and kicker Kiera Flannery-Fleck. The Gee Gees have local running backs J.P Cimankinda and Ben Williams, receivers Dylan St-Pierre, Daniel Oladejo and Conor MacDonald, offensive linemen Brett Jelly and Zachary Seguin, defensive linemen Charlie Tittley and Lliam Horrocks, linebackers James Peter, Pat Madore, David Fyneah, Max Charbonneau and Daniel Briere, as well as defensive backs A.K Ismail, T.K Victome, Jerry Delorme and Emmanuel Aboagye-Gyan. There will be a number of local talents playing alongside many other star players like the Ravens’ defensive back Jonathan Edouard from Orlando, Florida and the Gee Gees’ Rodney Estime, a receiver from Montreal who will make Saturday’s game a great one and fans should definitely keep an eye on the local talent. Of all of the Ottawa-raised athletes playing in the Panda Game, it is expected that Gee Gees’ defensive back Kevin (TK) Victome and linebacker James Peter are to make an impact for their respective team while Ravens homegrown quarterback Tanner Dejong, receiver Kerwin Guiste, linebacker Malik Yusuf and twins Kaseem and Denny Ferdinand will also make an impact on their own teams.
The local talent will bring in the fans and also bring big plays to each of the teams, but outside of that, the coaching can also be an interesting topic this Saturday. Back in the capital for the first time this season is Marcel Bellefeuille since leaving Ottawa in 2000 with a 26-5 record over 3 seasons as the Gee Gees head coach. It will be nice for Bellefeuille’s first game back in Ottawa as the Gee Gees head coach to be the famous Panda Game. On the opposite sideline is Steve Sumarah. Sumarah has been the head coach of the Ravens since 2012 when he was hired during Carleton’s revival process of the football program. He has since coached a number of panda games and sitting at 1-1 going into week 3 he looks to beat the Gee Gees after losing to them in the last panda game in 2019 which would put them at 2-1 on the season and the Gee Gees at 0-3, making a big difference and impact into the standings early on in the shortened season.
Along with the other points mentioned for Saturday’s big game, the atmosphere will be crazy and whoever’s school is the loudest may just come away with the win. The game is sold out, 75% of TD Place should be filled, University of Ottawa on the North Side and Carleton University on the South Side and it will be the first time that all 75% shows up to a game at TD Place this year after seeing a maximum of 12,000 show up to Redblacks games earlier in the CFL season. Every year the Panda Game is the biggest event for University sports in Ottawa, but with sports being out of the picture a year ago and there being so much hype going into this weekend, Saturday’s Panda Game, despite there being a restriction to the amount of fans let in may just be the best one yet.
If you are able to find tickets if you do not have yours already go get them now and take in the Panda Game experience on Saturday. For those that aren’t going to be in attendance, though you can stream the game online through OUA’s streaming service for free.