Written By: Mike Hogan
There’s not a lot of turnover in the OUA’s head coaching ranks. Jobs at that level are scarce. Paraphrasing then-Laval Head Coach Jacques Chapdelaine, who once told ‘In The Huddle’, there are fewer U SPORTS head coaching jobs than there are Canadian astronauts, so you feel fortunate to have one.
In a rarity, this season sees not one, but two new head coaches in the conference, Todd Galloway at Guelph and Greg Marshall at Toronto. Both are certainly qualified for the job, but they come to their new positions from diametrically opposed directions.
Marshall’s experience is mostly at the CFL level. The former head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders also coached in that league with Ottawa, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Hamilton.
He played in the NFL with the Eagles and Colts before a fantastic nine-year career with the Ottawa Rough Riders, where he was named their Most Outstanding Defensive Player three times, winning the CFL award in that category in 1983.
Galloway never played pro ball. He was a receiver at Laurier for four seasons, and let’s just say that there’s little chance his #77 will ever be retired. He caught four passes for 57 yards, with his ‘Glory Days’ catch being a 34-yarder.
But the Kitchener native adored the game. He coached at Laurier after graduation, he coached at St. Mary’s, he coached provincial teams in Ontario and Nova Scotia, he coached varsity football, he coached high school ball. The former receiver was a sponge – attending clinics, watching CFL practices, and was invited to an Argos training camp as an observer, soaking up as much information as he could to learn more about the game he loved.
He just wanted to become a better coach.
He was Guelph’s Offensive Coordinator, then full-time recruiter when he was informed by Director of Athletics Scott McRoberts that Kevin MacNeill had been relieved of his job as head coach, and they wanted Galloway to take over.
It was the definition of a bittersweet moment. It was the opportunity to become a head coach, but it was at the expense of MacNeill, his teammate at Laurier. They coached on the same staff with the Hawks, with the Gryphons, even with the Guelph Bears OVFL team. And they were close off the field as well.
“We were in each other’s wedding parties,” said Galloway.
When he got the offer he had to do three things first.
“One, I called my wife,” Galloway told ‘In The Huddle’. “Second, I called Kevin to get his blessing. Third, I called (former head coach) Stu Lang to see if he would support the move.”
Everyone was good with it and Guelph had a new interim head coach.
While Galloway’s promotion was an internal one, Marshall saw the Varsity job had been posted and waited until the last moment to make a decision.
“I was undecided whether I’d put my name in,” admitted Marshall, who was Queen’s Defensive Coordinator when the U-of-T job was posted. “I put it in the day before or the day of the deadline. They called me soon afterward and I went down for an interview.”
Needless to say the discussions went well and Marshall was named the Blues 26th Head Coach on January 3rd. He was finally ready to head to Toronto.
“The biggest decision was whether or not I wanted to make the move,” admitted Marshall. “I liked working with (Queen’s Head Coach) Pat Sheahan and I liked living in Kingston.”
The new Guelph head coach had no such dilemma. He knew both Guelph and the Gryphons well.
“There were no surprises, really,” said Galloway. “I’ve been here since 2011 and have seen the growth of the infrastructure.”
The biggest adjustment that a new head coach has to make is not from an Xs and Os perspective, but from the administrative side. Head coaches aren’t just teaching football; there’s way more to it than that.
There are commitments like fundraising, making sure kids remain academically eligible, and at times even having to act as a surrogate parent. Marshall hasn’t been caught off guard yet, largely in part to spending the last four seasons at Queen’s.
“I wasn’t overwhelmed, but it was eye opening,” admitted Marshall, who then turned his attention to what needs to be done with the program. “There were a lot of things I felt needed to be changed. I’ve been here eight months and came in with my eyes wide open to the challenges, but we have fantastic facilities and physical structures in place; we just have to increase the talent level. We not only need to have competition on Saturdays, but in practice as well.”
On the field, the coaching won’t be as much of a challenge because of his experience with the Gaels, but there has to be a different approach coaching U SPORTS players as opposed to the pros.
“You can’t assume that kids know anything,” explained Marshall. “I learned that in my first year at Queen’s. You have to change your approach. I’d say something and kids would look around at each other and not have any idea what I was talking about.”
Speaking of Queen’s, Marshall will be back in Kingston this weekend to coach against his former team, looking for his first win as an OUA head coach – which would tie Galloway in career victories.
“It will be fun,” said Marshall. “I obviously know a lot of people there and I coached or helped recruit a lot of those kids. It will be fun, but it’s never really fun when you know it won’t end well for someone.”
WATERLOO 41 TORONTO 18
Everyone knows that Waterloo will score a ton of points this season, and the Varsity Blues found that out firsthand. Warriors QB Tre Ford passed for 277 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 10 TDs against no interceptions through two games. He also looks much more composed, passing where last year he may have run the football instead. He did, however, also rush four times for 67 yards. Tyler Ternowski led all receivers with 106 yards and a pair of TD catches. Mitch Kernick also had two touchdown catches. Blues QB Clay Sequeira looked really good, throwing for 361 yards and a TD with no picks. He added an amazing 21-yard TD run. Eight different Toronto players caught passes, with Daniel Diodati leading the way with seven catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Waterloo’s Jack Hinsperger was in the Blues backfield all evening, recording 1.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss. Varsity’s Damoy Robinson was the top tackler in the game with six. It was 34-5 for the Warriors after three quarters.
OTTAWA 18 McMASTER 11
The Gee-Gees hosted Mac in a game that began with a heavy rainstorm and finished with two different quarterbacks and an electrifying game-winning touchdown. The weather was at least partly to blame for the lack of scoring. Ottawa led 3-0 after one quarter, Mac 5-3 at the half and 8-4 after three quarters. The Gee-Gees lifted Alex Lavric for Sawyer Buettner, while the Marauders did likewise, with Andreas Dueck replacing Jackson White. With just under three minutes left in the game, Ottawa started a drive at its own 49 yard line. Buettner hit Bryce Vieira with a swing pass, and the 5’8” back eluded a handful of tacklers en route to a 61-yard TD. He’d finish with 198 yards from scrimmage. Buettner hit Dylan St. Pierre with a perfect pass earlier in the quarter for the game’s first touchdown. The Gee-Gees picked off three passes, recovered a pair of fumbles, and recorded five sacks.
LAURIER 44 QUEEN’S 18
The Golden Hawks rolled up 621 yards on the young Queen’s defence as they upped their record to 2-0. Kurleigh Gittens Jr. was the most dangerous man on the field, as the Laurier receiver caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. Levondre Gordon was no slouch either, rushing for 120 yards. Tristan Arndt finished with 313 passing yards with three TDs. Queen’s highly-rated offence was held to just seven points through three quarters; the major coming on a Rasheed Tucker one-yard run in the second quarter. Nate Hobbs was held to 222 passing yards, while the Gaels rushed for just 89 yards, with 27 of those coming on a Hobbs run. Anthony Federico had a nice night for the Tricolour with 2.5 tackles for a loss and a pair of sacks. Laurier had the ball for roughly 11 minutes more than Queen’s. The Hawks took 15 penalties for 124 yards. There was a nice crowd of just under 7,000 at Richardson Stadium for the game.
GUELPH 33 YORK 18
Galloway’s first OUA win came as the result of a big third quarter. The hometown Gryphons outscored the Lions 20-1 in that timespan en route to the win. The offence was led by Jewan Jeffrey, who carried the ball 18 times for 129 yards. The Gryphs ran the ball for a total of 252 yards. Brett Hunchak threw for 313 yards for York, but was picked off twice. Luther Hakunavanhu led all receivers in the game with 85 yards on five receptions. Gabe Ferraro was 4/4 in his FG attempts for Guelph, including a 47-yard bomb. The Gryphs took 15 penalties for 149 yards.
CARLETON 38 WINDSOR 20
The Ravens used a strong second half to win their first game of the season. Down 13-12 at the half, Carleton scored 26 points in the final 30 minutes. Nathan Carter rushed for 115 yards on 22 carries for the winners. The Ravens did a fantastic job stopping the always dangerous Marvin Gaynor, limiting him to just 34 yards on 11 carries and one catch for four yards. Sam Girard passed for 284 yards and a pair of Lancer TDs, but was intercepted twice. Windsor had the ball for just under 35 minutes. Windsor’s Matt Gayer recovered a pair of fumbles, forcing one of them. He’d also finish the game with 9.5 tackles.