While Leathernecks close out season Saturday, unofficial 'Western Final' Sunday decides CFL title

While Leathernecks close out season Saturday, unofficial 'Western Final' Sunday decides CFL title

It has been a long and winding journey from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio to his final game for the Western Illinois Leathernecks for Jared Drake.

A multiple-sport star at Westerville High School, Drake originally signed with Ohio State as a walk-on in 2015. He played in nine games in two seasons with the Buckeyes, almost exclusively on special teams.

Drake, who appeared with host Danny Frey on "The Jared Elliott Show" Monday night, talked about his many position switches — from quarterback to strong safety to linebacker to long snapper to running back.

"I was grateful," Drake told Frey. "It speaks to how anybody who works hard and puts others first can succeed."

Drake has continued down that path at WIU; this season he's long-snapped, made tackles, carried the ball, caught passes, returned kickoffs and punts.

The 6-foot, 230-pounder has also led, serving as one of the five Leatherneck captains this fall.

The final game

Drake and his WIU teammates have one game remaining this season — at Northern Iowa, a team ranked No. 9 in this week's STATS FCS poll.

"They are big and physical up front on both sides of the ball," head coach Jared Elliott told Frey.

Northern Iowa is coming off a disappointing 38-7 loss to fifth-ranked South Dakota State.

What Saturday's game means

Western has an opportunity to play spoiler in a game that impacts Northern Iowa's playoff status.

Where can I find the game?

Western Illinois at Northern Iowa at 1 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPN-Plus. To listen to the Leathernecks' radio broadcast, www.WRMSFM.com

Grey Cup or Western Final?

WIU's season doesn't quite end Saturday; it extends into Sunday with the 107th Grey Cup deciding the champion of the Canadian Football League.

It also determines the unofficial Western Final, pitting the former WIU quarterback-receiver combination of Sean McGuire and Jaelin Acklin against each other for the second time this year.

McGuire's Winnipeg Blue Bombers will take on Acklin's Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the right to be crowned as CFL champions.

Sean McGuire (18) and Jaelon Acklin (17) in action for WIU in 2017. (photo courtesy westerncourier.com)

Sean McGuire (18) and Jaelon Acklin (17) in action for WIU in 2017. (photo courtesy westerncourier.com)

McGuire serves as a Winnipeg backup quarterback while Acklin will start for Hamilton.
 
Together, the two helped Western to FCS Playoff appearances in 2015 and 2017. The 2017 season saw Acklin set Western's single-season records with 84 receptions and 1,369 receiving yards, while McGuire graduated a year later as the program's all-time leading passer. 
 
McGuire holds the Leathernecks' career records in passing yards (9,819), completions (772), and touchdowns (72).  

The Grey Cup is scheduled 5 p.m. Sunday and will be televised on ESPN2.

 

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