Football season officially open

96 eager football players have taken over the University Stadium field for the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks two-week training camp, which kicked off on Aug. 23.

With 36 freshmen and more than a handful of top-notch veterans on this year’s roster, manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries is looking forward to a promising season.

“I think we have great potential,” said Jeffries. “It’s an outstanding group with a lot of talent, and we’re very excited.”

The Hawks begin the season ranked seventh in the nation by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), and many predict the group will be a strong competitor for the Vanier Cup.

“We have one of the top classes this year coming in,” said highly-touted rookie wide-receiver Alex Anthony.

“Every practice is super competitive; we have first-year guys competing for starting spots.”

Anthony is one of the team’s most anticipated new players this year. The 18-year-old hails from Mount Douglas Secondary School in Victoria, B.C., and has been sought after by schools all over Canada and the U.S.

The Hawks managed to scoop up the high school superstar and now have, arguably, one of the best wide receivers in Canada on the roster.

 “Scouting is a very important aspect,” commented Jeffries. “We already have about 75 kids on our list for next year. Scouting at least a year in advance is critical for success.”

Another one of Laurier’s promising recruits is linebacker Nick Sapone. Sapone comes from Vanier College in Montreal, and seems to be fitting in just fine with the rest of the team.

“Everyone’s making me feel very welcome,” he said.

Anthony shares Sapone’s opinion, saying, “Everyone seems to be coming together well. We’re really building team chemistry.”

Veterans such as cornerback Taureen Allen know the importance of creating team unity during camp.

“It’s a family atmosphere,” said Allen. “Everyone knows their role, we are much more cohesive than last year, and everyone has respect for one another. We all know what our potential is this year and everyone is a lot more upbeat than in years past.”

The Hawks training camp schedule has been slightly altered from last year and the result has been a much healthier and athletic team than in previous years.

“We have adopted a new game plan in regards to practices,” explained Allen. “We practice in the mornings and have the afternoons off to recover.”

The team has two practices daily, consisting of conditioning, scrimmages and specials.

There are also team luncheons, dinners and meetings, as well as the newly tailored playbook to be memorized by all team members.

But the rigorous two-week schedule isn’t the only work the players do to prepare for the season; much of the work takes place in the off-season. “I was running throughout the summer and lifting weights with a trainer to get ready,” said Sapone.

With how overwhelming training camp and the expectations of a new season can be, it’s important to have an influence like Jeffries to keep the players grounded.

“We don’t talk in terms of winning, we only talk about competing,” he said. “Right now we’re focusing on our game against the University of Toronto, and that’s as far ahead as we’re looking.”

Rookie Hawks to watch in 2009-10

Alex Anthony
Position: WR
Height: 6″2
Weight: 190 lbs
Hometown: Victoria, BC
Last team: Mount Douglas H.S.

Nick Sapone
Position: LB
Height: 6″1
Weight: 215 lbs
Hometown: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Last team: Vanier College

Hawks ranked seventh in Canada

The University Football Reporters of Canada have released their pre-season Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) football rankings and have placed the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks as the seventh best team in the nation.

This puts the Hawks at second place in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) behind last year’s Vanier Cup finalists, the Western Mustangs.

The defending national champion, Laval Rouge et Or, will open as the top seed for the fifth consecutive season and have now been number one in 49 of the past 50 national rankings, dating back to 2005.

The Hawks’ rivals from Western slide into the second spot, followed by Calgary, Saskatchewan, Saint Mary’s and Concordia.

The Golden Hawks come in at number seven with Queen’s, Montreal and Ottawa rounding out the top ten.

CIS national rankings

  1. Laval Rouge et Or
  2. Western Ontario Mustangs
  3. Calgary Dinos
  4. Saskatchewan Huskies
  5. Saint Mary’s Huskies
  6. Concordia Stingers
  7. Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks
  8. Queen’s Golden Gaels
  9. Montreal Carabins
  10. Ottawa Gee Gees

No home game during O-Week

For the first time in nine years, the Golden Hawks will not have a home football game during Orientation Week.

Ever since the 2000 season, the Hawks have played a game at University Stadium either on Labour Day or the Saturday of O-Week.

Last season, the Hawks played at home twice during the opening week of the school year, defeating the Guelph Gryphons 15-13 and losing to the Western Mustangs 31-20.

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