Bert-iful Start! Team effort lifts Warriors past Lancers in Bertoia's first U SPORTS win
"This is just the start fellas", six words spoken by head coach Chris Bertoia, in an emotional post-game speech given to his players after an incredible 54-33 victory in game one of the 2017 OUA football season.
After two winless seasons, Bertoia earned his first U SPORTS victory as head coach of the black and gold and spoken in his words, this truly is just the beginning for Waterloo's football program.
Almost an entirely new coaching staff, tremendous support from the University and a full commitment to recruiting and educating the student-athletes, a new era has begun for football at the University of Waterloo.
"Today was just one of those days I will never forget," said an emotionally charged Chris Bertoia after the win. "It has been a long two years but our coaching staff has stuck to the game plan and it all came to fruition in today's victory. The support from the University, the Department of Athletics and beyond has been amazing and to start off the season with a convincing win is very humbling and exciting."
Waterloo's last win came in their final game of 2014 as the black and gold edged York 32-31 and you have to go all the way back to 2007 when they last won a season opener, where they bested Toronto, 42-17.
Today's victory was highlighted by one the most historic and memorable rookie performances as cornerback Tyrell Ford (Niagara Falls/) ran back not one but two punt returns, one for 98 yards and another highlight reel 100 yard major. In just his first U SPORTS contest, Tyrell finished with 263 yards on eight returns and was also a factor defensively with 5.5 tackles.
Waterloo's offence was firing on all cylinders today led by Lucas McConnell (Waterford) who went 7-for-13 with 113 passing yards and three touchdown passes while rookie Tre Ford (Niagara Falls/) went 7-for-9 for 50 yards and one touchdown pass.
Most of Waterloo's damage however was done on the ground with 219 rushing yards compared to 186 for Windsor. Tre Ford (Niagara Falls/) used his agility and speed and showed his bright future in the league with 14 carries for 108 yards while Brandon Metz (Cambridge/) had 83 including a 20 yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach as Waterloo went up 54-31. Dion Pellerin (Abbotsford/) rounded out a strong Warriors ground game with 78 yards on 12 touches.
In the air, Waterloo was successful at finding the endzone, doing so four times by four different players. Mitch Kernick (Elmira/) hauled in a 24 yard pass, the longest of the contest and finished with 80 yards in the air. Richmond Nketiah (Brampton/), Gordon Lam (Kitchener/) and Blair Mckay were the other three Warriors receivers to put up six in Waterloo's dominant win.
The story defensively was Waterloo's second half performance allowing just five points in the 30 minutes of action while the Warriors put up 22 to cruise to the victory.
Second year linebacker continued where he left off last season with 9.5 tackles while another second year Michael Reid (Sault Ste. Marie/) was stellar with seven tackles.
Waterloo will look to make it a 2-0 start when they welcome the York Lions to Warrior Field on Labour Day Monday. Kickoff is set for 1pm and the game can be seen live on OUA.tv.