Record-breaking Redmen salvage tough season

Record-setting Redmen: Pass and catch combo Matt Connell (right) and Erik Galas (left).

Inseparable pair put up impressive numbers while shredding defences

By Neale McDevitt

For the past five years, it was the most oft-heard refrain at Percival Molson Stadium, but one Redmen football fans never grew tired of: “Connell to Galas. First down McGill.” But as with all great songs, the final bars of this time-honoured classic have been played for the last time.

When the Redmen suffered a 67-8 loss at the hands of the Laval Rouge et Or on Oct. 25, it not only marked the end of the team’s second straight winless campaign it also drew the final curtain on the collegiate football careers of quarterback Matt Connell and slotback Erik Galas. That whooshing sound you just heard was the collective sigh of relief from defensive backs around the province.

When Connell walked off the field for the 38th and last time, he left a tattered record book in his wake. The 24-year-old from St. Bruno established Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) and Quebec University Football League (QUFL) career marks for most pass attempts (1,364), completions (816) and yards (10,455). Connell, who was the Redmen ballboy when he was 9 years old, also finished with a QUFL career record 63 TD tosses, the seventh-best in CIS history.

The person least impressed with the gaudy career numbers? Connell himself, of course. “The records are great, for sure, but I’d trade them all in for a winning season any day,” said the 6-foot, 225-pound pivot. “You don’t play football for records, you play to win.”

Not surprisingly, Connell’s sentiments are echoed by Galas, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound slotback who finished his five-year stint with the Redmen as the CIS all-time receptions leader with 194. “As a player, you do whatever it takes to help the team,” he said. “Sure I caught a lot of balls, but everyone has to do their job to allow me to go out and do mine.”

The connection between the two extends far beyond the gridiron. They met five years ago when Galas came to McGill on a recruiting trip and stayed with Connell. They’ve been inseparable ever since. “He’s my best friend,” both said of the other in separate interviews.

Galas says he and Connell share a passion for the game that sometimes bubbles over in the heat of the moment – making their friendship a valuable commodity. “We’re so close that we can tell right away when the other’s on edge,” said Galas with a laugh. “It’s good because we can freak out on each other on the sideline instead of another teammate who might take it personally.”

McGill’s most successful pass-catch combo has played its last game for the Redmen, but neither is hanging up the cleats. Galas, who was invited to a Canadian Football League evaluation camp last year, is hoping for a tryout from a CFL. Connell, who also aspires to the CFL , will take his gunslinger game to noted football hotbed Cannes, France, in January. “Football isn’t like hockey. There aren’t any old-timers’ games,” said Connell. “You’ve got to keep playing for as long as you can.”