A new feel to the season
One year ago, the Wilfrid Laurier University men’s football training camp was filled with many more questions than answers.
A young team, a new system and most importantly a new coach placed an aura of uncertainty around the team heading into the 2013 season.
The team ultimately posted a 1-7 record.
Fast forward one year and the camp is exhibiting a completely different feel heading into this season, according to head coach Michael Faulds.
“There is just an overall excitement,” he said. “We improved every single week last year as a team and we really took that into the offseason. There is a feeling around here of confidence in what this team could possibly be.”
Faulds implemented a faster-paced offence last season and most of the responsibility for that system was placed on quarterback James Fracas, who admits to having faced a learning curve.
“There is a learning process that needs to happen. That process was last year, and as an offence so far we all feel that we are at a significantly higher level than we were,” Fracas said.
Faulds said he’s feeling much more comfortable as a whole at this year’s camp, coming off his first full offseason with the team.
“Doing everything for the second time is that much easier. The players know what to expect from me, the coaches know what to expect from me and we are all working together really well,” he explained.
The confidence the group is feeling is stemming from the fact that most of their key pieces are one year older, bringing veteran leadership and a strong offseason of training.
Fracas spent part of his summer at the Hamilton Tiger Cats training camp, improving the mental and physical aspects of his game.
“Reading plays and reading defenses are things that I picked up on that I have brought back to Laurier and I hope will help me step up my game,” he said.
The club also sports three fourth-year Ontario University Athletics all-stars with running back Dillon Campbell, defensive lineman Ese Mrabure-Ajufo and linebacker Chris Ackie.
Campbell led the OUA in rushing last year with 867, Ackie is already considered a top 10 pick in the 2015 Canadian Football League draft and Mrabure-Ajufo is an extremely mobile defensive end, who impressed scouts at the East West Bowl earlier this year.
This combination of strength on both sides of the ball is something that makes it hard for Faulds to find any faults with the squad.
“I don’t actually know if we have any weaknesses right now. I would not pin point any position,” he said. “I think the whole roster is pretty confident in James Fracas … the pieces around him are fantastic too.”
Looking forward, Faulds and Fracas are optimistic but realistic about their goals for the year.
“My goal is to put the offence and the rest of the team in the best possible position to succeed and win games week in and week out,” said Fracas.
“What we always tell our team is that there is a ton of steps along the way,” Faulds said.
“The old cliché is taking it one game at a time, and that is truly what we are good at.”
The first step will come on September 1, when the Golden Hawks kick off their season against the University of Toronto at Varsity Stadium.