Waterloo, Ont. - Throughout history, most dominant football teams feature a QB-WR duo with unmatched and palatable chemistry; think Joe Montana and Jerry Rice or Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison. This season, like their respective favourite duos have done in the past, Tre Ford and Tyler Ternowski have become quite the tandem in the passing game and have gone so far as to etch their names as one of the most iconic university football duos across Canada. But just how did they put together such an incredible season and where did this incredible chemistry come from?
It started in the off-season. Both Ford and Ternowski worked hard to ensure they’d be in peak shape when the season began, not just physically, but mentally. For Ternowski, it was combining the mental strength he gained last season while injured to the physical strength and blazing speed he has always had. Ford also took strides forward in the mental game, largely focusing on getting a full understanding of the concepts and plays he would be running all season long to know where everyone would be when it came time to make the play. And as we all know, this offseason work paid off almost immediately.
Waterloo started the season off strong, with the passing duo being awarded co-offensive weekly honours in Week 1. These honours had a massive impact on the team right from the start because it helped to build their confidence and it put the rest of the league on notice – the Warriors were going to be one of the biggest pass threats in the league this season, so buckle up.
The numbers speak for themselves this season, but they don’t tell the full story. Ford and Ternowski have been clicking all season long – everything the former tosses up, the latter seems able to reel in (which explains Ternowski’s new single-season OUA touchdown record), but as much as they credit each other and their talents, they’re more eager to share the credit with the rest of their team. It isn’t about their abilities to throw and catch, even though that puts them at the heart of the playbook; it’s about the team – including their coaches – behind them creating the schemes and calling the plays.
In recent years, the Warriors as a team have seen their share of ups and downs. The last time they saw postseason action was in 2003. They even went 0-8 in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons. But all that means is that Ford and Ternowski have had the opportunity to be an integral part of building the Waterloo program from the ground up. With each and every game, they’re leaving their own mark on the team and marking their place in the Warriors history books. And now, rather than being seen as an easy win, the Warriors are feared – with the QB-WR duo playing a huge role in that.
What you can’t learn about Ford and Ternowski on the field is how humble they are. In fact, when we told Ford that he had set a new Waterloo TD record earlier this season, his response was “oh…that’s the first time I heard that I passed the TD record. I had no idea.” And every time the conversation turned to them promoting themselves and highlighting their skills and successes, they were quick to turn the tables and talk about the team – everything is about the all mighty W and, of course, their road to the Yates Cup.
But we needed to get to the bottom of what makes them so special, so each of them shared what makes their teammate so special – and that’s when the flood gates really opened. Tyler couldn’t stop singing Tre’s praises, stating that “He can make plays like spinning and throwing the balls on a laser on the route…it makes no sense to me.” And when it was Tre’s turn to talk about Tyler, he simply started gushing, “He’s the kind of guy who can take a five-yard completion and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He’s dangerous whenever he gets the ball on the field…” And they’re both right. The Warriors are where they are, heading into the playoffs, largely because of the play of Ford and Ternowski’s dynamic dominance all season long.
It’s going to be a tough showdown for the Warriors this weekend – in a rematch from last weekend’s nail biter – but with Ford and Ternowski on the field, Waterloo absolutely cannot be counted out. Could they take the team to the Yates Cup? Only time will tell how far they go, but it’s been an incredible season and fans can expect more of the same for the upstart Warriors behind their record-setting duo.