Waterwho? -- OUA In The Huddle with Mike Hogan - Week 3

Waterwho? -- OUA In The Huddle with Mike Hogan - Week 3

 

They're 2-0. They've scored 106 points in the two wins, the second-highest total in USports. They have a chance to go 3-0 this week with a home game against Toronto.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are your 2017 Waterloo Warriors.

Yes, those Waterloo Warriors. The team that scored a total of just 77 points last season. The school that hadn't won a game in two years. The program that hadn't posted a home 'W' in five seasons.

Waterloo opened the campaign with a 54-33 win at Windsor, before a convincing 52-8 victory over York at Warrior Field on Labour Day.

For the first time since he took over the program two years ago, perhaps the most positive man in Canadian football genuinely has a reason to be so darn optimistic.

"I didn't wake up thinking we'd win 52-8," said head coach Chris Bertoia, "But I did wake up feeling we were going to beat them."

It's an interesting mindset for a coach that started his Waterloo tenure with an 0-16 record, but two exceptional recruiting years has given his program a combination of depth and top-tier talent.

Which brings us to the Ford twins.

The heavily recruited Niagara Falls freshmen have exploded onto the OUA landscape. Tyrell is a cornerback who also returns kicks. He had punt return touchdowns of 98 and 100 yards at Windsor, then returned one 45 yards against York. His reputation has traveled quickly.

Tre is part of a quarterbacking tandem that has worked to near perfection so far. He's rushed for 260 yards in the two wins, second in USports in that category.  Included in Monday's total was a Maddenesque 21-yard TD scamper vs York where he started running right, then stopped, reversed direction, avoided some traffic in the middle of the field and exploded around the left side and sprinted to the end zone untouched.

Bertoia not only loves what the twins have done on the field, but the winning attitude they've brought to the locker room.

"Their aura has taken over the team," said Bertoia, almost in disbelief. "It's crazy how two freshmen have had an impact like that."

With that said, Tre isn't the every down QB, he's splitting the reps with fourth-year pivot Lucas McConnell. The Soo native has been effective as well.

So why the rotation? Why not just pick a starter and run with him?

"That was our plan going and it hasn't failed us yet," the coach told In The Huddle. "Lucas has been outstanding. We're trying to keep people on their toes."

Bertoia didn't need prompting to rave about the veteran's play.

"He has a great arm, he can run, he has a high football I.Q.," he continued. "He's put his ego aside, as has Tre for that matter, for them it's all about winning. I've switched them in mid-series and they're high fiving each other. They're belly bumping on the sidelines after a score. They're just having fun."

The black-and-gold are playing well, though the schedule maker has been kind and they haven't played an upper-tier team yet. If they win Saturday against Toronto they'll go 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they beat, you guessed it, Toronto, York and Windsor, the same three opponents off the top this year.

Are they talking playoffs?

"No," Bertoia began answering before the question was even completed. He then, for the first time in the interview, broke into 'coach speak'. "That's not a part of the process. It's about winning the day and then winning tomorrow."

He then let down his guard a bit.

"As a staff we talk about that and get excited," admitted the coach. "But then I have to take a step back and not get ahead of myself."

That's a job for fans, family, friends and alumni to do. If this program's upward trend continues, it will be an easy task to get more involved in what is becoming an incredibly exciting time in Warriors history.

 

The O-Zone:

The QBs and return game have been getting most of the Waterloo love, but the Warriors defence held the Lions to just 47-yards rushing on a windy day where being able to run the ball was imperative. York QB Brett Hunchak led the ground attack with just 28 yards on four carries. Ford, his quarterback counterpart, scampered for 152 yards on 11 attempts. Waterloo had far less trouble moving against the wind, which was a major reason why they won. Adam Adeboboye had a nice day for York with nine catches for 173 yards. His teammate, Rossini Sandjong-Djabome had a pair of sacks, five tackles for a loss and also recovered a fumble. The Warriors had the ball for 37:45.

The Mustangs have scored one more point that the Warriors this year to lead USports in the category. Western put up 41 against Guelph in a game that featured overtime, five lead changes, 1,001 yards of offence and a two-and-a-half hour lightning delay. QB Stevenson Bone eventually scored the winning TD on a one-yard run in the 41-34 victory. On its OT possession the Mustangs sacked Guelph on all three plays, knocking Guelph QB James Roberts out of the game on the first play of the shootout. Theo Landers had to come in cold off the bench to replace him for the final two attempts. The teams combined for 30 penalties for 299 yards. Zeph Fraser had 143 yards receiving and a pair of TD catches for Guelph, while Brett Ellerman had 105 receiving yards for the 2-0 'Stangs. Western's Jimmy Hawley has two sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss. The Gryphons have lost both of their games in overtime, with last week's game against Ottawa needing double OT.

Like Guelph, the Gaels fell to 0-2 with a second heartbreaking loss. After Nick Libertore's fourth field goal of the game gave Queen's a 13-7 lead with 1:59 left, Ottawa's Jackson Bennett took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for the game-winning touchdown in a 14-13 Gee-Gees win. It was U-of-O's first lead of the day and the game's only touchdown. The Gaels piled up just under 400 yards of total offence, but could not find the end zone. Jonah Pataki looked more like his old self after struggling in the opener. He rushed for 127 yards on 21 carries. The Gaels pass protection has to improve, they gave up a whopping nine sacks for a second-consecutive week, Alain Pae had four for the garnet and grey on Monday. True freshman Alex Lavric started for the injured Victor Twynstra and was 19-28 for 225 yards. He hit Carter Matheson seven times for 105 yards. The Gee-Gees will look to improve to 3-0 as they visit York this week. Queen's has a bye.

The Varsity Blues are 1-1 after a 19-12 victory over Windsor. Jordan Gillespie returned an interception 42 yards for the eventual game-winning score midway through the fourth quarter. The Lancers cut the lead later in the quarter on a Daynar Facey TD, but they'd be the game's final points. Blues punter T.J. Morton may have been the game's MVP, helping his team win the battle of field position. He had nine punts, averaging a whopping 51.4 yards per kick, including a 77-yard rouge. Defensively, Lamar Foyle had 10 tackles for Varsity.

The weekend started on Sunday night with a game at Carleton. Mac's defence won the night as not only did they hold the Ravens to nine points, but also recorded a safety, a Nolan Putt fumble return set up one TD, Robbie Yochim returned an interception 55 yards for another major, they forced four turnovers on fumbles and added two interceptions. The Ravens D may have been even better, holding MAC to a ridiculously low 20 net-yards passing. They sacked freshman starter Andreas Dueck seven times. McMaster finished with just 142 yards of offence, but it was enough to get the win.

 

 

 

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