Golden Hawks start the season strong and show promise for Yates Cup final

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When asked to describe the goals for his offence in 2018, sixth year head coach Michael Faulds responded: “We’re going to be balanced. We’re going to be able to run the ball behind a great [offensive] line, great fullbacks, and great running backs, and then our young quarterbacks have outstanding weapons at receiver. The receiver group is super talented, one of the most impressive I’ve been around.”

The balanced offence comes with the departure of last year’s starting quarterback Michael Knevel. Coach Faulds addressed this loss, but also his confidence in the current quarterbacks on his roster.

“Obviously we’re going to miss Michael. Michael was a big part in us winning the 2016 Yates Cup, but we’re super confident as a team and as a coaching staff in the other quarterbacks we have, [specifically] Tristan Arndt, who will be our day one starter,” he said.

Dating back to a late-season victory in 2017 against McMaster, Arndt is 3-0 as a starter, and never during his tenure as signal-caller has the offence skipped a beat.

Through the air Arndt’s main target is Kurleigh Gittens Jr, because if the Golden Hawks offence is a finely tuned sports car, then Kurleigh Gittens Jr. is the fuel that makes it go.

After a 2017 season that saw Gittens Jr. selected as both a first team all-star and MVP for the OUA, and a CIS all-star at two different positions, there is no defence in Canadian football unaware of what Gittens Jr. can do.

But when shifting to their ground-game Laurier’s offence loses none of its potency, because in 2017 Laurier’s Levondre Gordon gashed opposing defences to the tune of 5.73 yards per carry on his way to a team-leading eight touchdowns.

The Hawks were led by running back Levondre Gordon and Kurleigh Gittens jr. on offence. Gordon rushed for 109 yards along with two touchdowns and Gittens Jr. contributed with 188 all-purpose yards

Already in his first regular season action Gordon piled up 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns behind a Laurier offensive line anchored by 2017 East-West bowl attendee Drew Mairleitner.

Despite the offensive firepower at their employ, Laurier’s defence should not be forgotten.

In particular, head coach Michael Faulds focused on the defensive line when he said: “On defense we’ve historically been led by our [defensive] line. We’ve always put outstanding pressure on opposing teams’ quarterbacks… and whether it be Robbie Smith, Trevaughan James, Alfred Green, Sam Acheampong, the list goes on… and we’re excited to see the sort of pass rush we can get this year.”

This elite level of defensive-line play helped Laurier to a +16.6 points differential per game in 2017, and while the defence did surrender the most passing yards per game, Laurier doled out equal punishment, placing second in the OUA with 27 quarterback sacks.

However, in their first regular season game it was Will Amoah from the defensive backfield who led the unit with 3.5 tackles on the day, in addition to a pass he intercepted in the third quarter.

Although my questions to coach Faulds centred around the defensive linemen, it should be remembered that the rest of Laurier’s defence is stocked with playmakers as well.

On Aug. 26, 2018, the Golden Hawks hosted the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees for the first regular-season game of their schedule.

After an immediate three-and-out to start the game Laurier’s first drive propelled them to a 7-0 lead from which they never looked back.

Midway through the fourth quarter Ottawa managed to pull within nine points of Laurier, but a late stand by the Golden Hawk defence handed Laurier’s offence the ball in the shadow of their opponents’ goalposts, and they wasted no time putting the game out of reach.

The Hawks were led by running back Levondre Gordon and Kurleigh Gittens jr. on offence. Gordon rushed for 109 yards along with two touchdowns and Gittens Jr. contributed with 188 all-purpose yards

With a final score of 39-21 Laurier wins its home opener, and they now look ahead to next week’s game (Sunday, Sept. 2) where the Golden Hawks will travel to Kingston to take on the 1-0 Queen’s Gaels, fresh off of their 42-21 win over York.

The Gaels promise a tough matchup with their well-rounded roster, but this week illustrated that the Golden Hawks are up to the task.


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