2017 Preview of Golden Hawk football training camp
The Laurier men’s football team looks to build upon the incredible Yates Cup run they had last season. When a program competes at this level, improvement becomes a constant necessity, as each OUA team has been working hard to push the needle further and further in order to find success this season. Head coach Michael Faulds reflects on the offseason they have had, “Our veteran players that all returned are very hungry and eager to work to take a step further than we did last year.” Faulds adds that they have added approximately 30 players to the team and likes the way they are mixing with the team.
Young players have to fill roles and provide depth every year and this year is no outlier. Coach Faulds notes, “There have been some young players flashing and I’ll start by saying we have so many returning vets that there’s no pressure to play first years.” Faulds highlights receiver Nick Petermann as a young player developing well. Faulds continues on the defensive side of the ball, “Not necessarily freshman but with the loss of a couple linebackers, we have some very young linebackers going into their second year that are showing really well, in Brad Cowen and Daniel Szatmari.
The reality of running an OUA program is players leave. You spend some time developing players, they play, and then they have to leave. So development becomes key and next man up becomes more than a cliché. With departures of key players Kwaku Boateng and Nakas Onyeka, the defense has the task of replacing some very high caliber players. Kwaku’s skill at rushing the passer racked up sacks, quarterbacks hits, and allowed the defense to cover for far less time. Nakas’ skill at getting off blocks and chasing down running backs kept opposing offences off schedule and in unfavorable down and distance.
The reality of running an OUA program is players leave. You spend some time developing players, they play, and then they have to leave. So development becomes key and next man up becomes more than a cliché.
Coach Faulds is no stranger to roster turnover, “You lose a couple good players every year and those more senior players kind of rise to the occasion to become leaders,” said Faulds. Replacing departed players is something Faulds and his staff have faced before and Faulds recalls, “When we lost Chris Ackie…and some of those guys in the past, it’s like what’s Laurier going to do? The key for us is the competition and depth within the roster and we continue to have guys that are ready when we have some nice senior guys depart.”
Quarterbacks have to be leaders and more importantly, they have to be analytical players on the field. In addition, they direct the players on the field with the immense details of motion, snap counts, etc. This is why development is so important for the position and repetitions are key. This is Michael Knevel’s first full offseason as the starter and this means more reps with the starters, which will improve their chemistry as a unit. Faulds, who formally played the position, sheds light on this, “As a Quarterback it’s all about timing and continuity within an offense…he’s got some really dangerous weapons and receivers and in the backfield at running back, you got a good veteran, solid offensive line in front of him. So you can see it at practice, Michael’s in complete control.”
The running back group was deep last year with many different backs taking handoffs and slashing defenses. Levondre Gordon and Osayi Iginuan will most likely lead the group this year, as both had significant contribution to the backfield down the stretch last year. With the departure of Eric Guiltanan, Faulds still thinks the group is dangerous, “Obviously with Eric Guitanan and Darian Wake graduation but toward the end of the year when those two were injured Levondre Gorden and Osiui Iginuan took the majority of the carries. So that gave them a lot of confidence as they entered the offseason.”
The Faulds regime is going into its fifth year, and every year has seen improvement. What he thinks his program brings most is culture, “Culture, we kind of set it in the first year but I think there’s just more familiarity now.” Since his program has done the recruiting five times now, each player is handpicked for his scheme. “This is the first season that I’ve been here where every single player was recruited by our coaching staff, so there are no old regime players. Every single player knows from day one they stepped on this campus what the culture and everything they were stepping into.” Faulds notes the momentum the program has gained each year and think this year should be no different, “It’s not a team that’s won a Yates Cup that’s going to glow around and wear t-shirts all around, parade the Yates cup around. It’s a hungry group that’s constantly reminded of the 36-6 score we had at Laval.”