In The Huddle: Learning to fly

Photo by Mike Veltri
Photo by Mike Veltri

Burlington, Ont. (by Mike Hogan) - It must seem like Groundhog Day for Michael Faulds.

The 1993 movie starred Bill Murray as a TV weatherman who woke up and lived through the same day, every day – something the head coach of the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks can relate to.

Last season, the Hawks missed the playoffs, largely because of a three-game stretch of the season where they lost those games by a combined seven points.

After starting this season with a loss to Western and a win at York, the Hawks lost back-to-back games to the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa in disappointing fashion, blowing huge leads over both the Blues and Gee-Gees.

“We had a 17-point lead over Toronto, who came back, led by a quarterback (Clay Sequeira) who is playing at a Hec Crighton level,” Faulds recalled for In The Huddle. “Then we had a 19-point lead versus Ottawa, but we had catastrophic plays again.”

Catastrophic as in five fumbles lost, one of which came in their own end zone. It got so bizarre that even the Hawks punter threw an interception.

Faulds says that despite the pain of the mistakes, it’s something that can be used as a learning tool.

“We have to learn how to have an adverse situation and not revert back to making bad mistakes,” explained the coach. “If a kid gets bitten by a dog, there’s a better chance that they’ll be afraid of dogs for life. When you have those negative thoughts, then there’s a better chance those things could happen.”

The Hawks are coming off a bye week, preparing for what has become an incredibly important game against the Queen’s Gaels, who have posted back-to-back wins after dropping their first three.

Faulds spent the bye week working with his club, playing psychologist as much as on-field tactician. Practices were some 20 minutes shorter that usual, and the Hawks specifically worked on situational strategies.

The coach is confident that his club can get things together down the stretch.

“We can be a team that finishes 5-3 and be a team that would be peaking at the right time of the season,” Faulds told OUA.ca. “But we can’t be 5-3 if we can’t get to 2-3. We’ve seen glimpses of how good we can be. We have the leading rusher in the country (Levondre Gordon), the top time of possession in the conference (34:28), and the fewest yards against per game (297.5).”

There are other reasons for optimism.

“We know we’re a quality football team,” said Faulds, matter-of-factly. “We haven’t played four full quarters yet, maybe not even two. We should have four starters back from injury this week. We just have to get back to the fundamentals.”

It should be a fantastic atmosphere at Knight-Newbrough Field on Saturday, not just because of the importance of the game for both teams, but it’s Homecoming at Laurier.

As a part of the festivities, Gary Jeffries, who coached the Hawks to the 2005 Vanier Cup championship, will officially be inducted into the Golden Hawks Hall of Fame.

THE O-ZONE:

QUEEN’S 37, TORONTO 33

The Gaels led the entire game, though it never felt that way. Queen’s jumped out to an 11-0 lead, which the Blues cut to 11-9. A pair of Richard Burton TDs helped the Tricolour build a 28-14 lead, before the Blues made their comeback, falling inches short when a long pass to Dan Diodati just slipped through his fingers; a play that would have given the Blues the lead with about a minute-and-a-half left. The Gaels were able to run out the clock from there. Freshman Ryan Licandro made his first OUA start for Queen’s and looked comfortable, finishing 18/30, 280 yards with two TDs and as many interceptions. Rasheed Tucker was dominant, rushing for 210 yards and two touchdowns. Burton finished with seven catches for 141 yards and the two scores. Diodati caught eight passes for 134 yards, while QB Clay Sequiera led the Blues with 110 yards rushing, passing for 345 yards and three TDs.

WESTERN 9, GUELPH 3

Points were at a premium in a rematch of last year’s Yates Cup final. Marc Liegghio kicked field goals in the first, second, and fourth quarters, before Eric Stranz booted a 47-yarder to complete the scoring. It was the first time the Mustangs were held without a touchdown since the 2013 Mitchell Bowl. The ‘Stangs couldn’t get into the end zone despite moving the ball fairly well, passing for 222 yards, while rushing for 200 more. Trey Humes rushed for 131 of those yards, while leading Western with five catches for 79 yards. Theo Landers threw for 202 yards, while leading the Gryphons in rushing with 62. Kaine Stevenson was limited to 36 yards on 11 carries. Guelph’s defence totaled four sacks and seven tackles for loss. Western won the time of possession 32:18 to 27:42. The game essentially ended when Guelph couldn’t convert on second-and-three, then third-and-three from their own 40 with under a minute left.

WATERLOO 34, CARLETON 24

The Warriors erased an early 10-0 deficit to improve to 3-1. Gordon Lam had a huge day, catching seven passes for 158 yards and three TDs. Tre Ford threw four touchdown passes, piling up 348 yards through the air, adding 60 more on the ground. For the Ravens, Tanner DeJong passed for 274 yards and a pair of scores, with Chad Manchulenko catching six passes for 101 yards. Nathan Carter rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries, his second 100-yard game of the season.  Waterloo finished with an even 500 yards of offence. Michael Reid had a monster game defensively for the black-and-gold, recording 13 tackles with a sack and a TFL.

OTTAWA 46, YORK 12

The Gees-Gees improved to 3-1 with a win at York. Jordan Burgher rushed for 71 yards and three touchdowns to lead the way. Ben Maracle passed for 233 yards and a pair of TDs. Noah Craney got the start at quarterback for York, passing for 180 yards. The big play for the Lions was a 107-yard kickoff return for a TD by Jaxon Hume, which cut Ottawa’s lead to 20-10. York actually won the time of possession 32:38 to 27:22, but fumbled the ball six times, losing five of them. Ottawa amassed a dozen TFLs, led by Tramayne Stephen with three.

McMASTER 47, WINDSOR 19

Andreas Dueck had a huge day for the Marauders, passing for 389 yards and three TDs in the win. Tommy Nield had 127-yards in receptions, with Tyson Middlemost adding 119 more on just three catches, including a 72-yard touchdown. Sam Girard threw for 298 yards and also led Windsor with just 21 yards rushing. Jacob Savoini had just five carries for 14 yards. Carson Ouellette was Girard’s favourite target, catching 11 passes for 127 yards and the Lancers lone touchdown. Adam Preocanin had a nice day for Mac, connecting on all four of his field-goal attempts. The Marauders are now 4-1, and in sole possession of second place in the conference. They have a bye this week.

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