Golden Hawks conclude regular season with 7-1 record
The Golden Hawks faced off against the Windsor Lancers in a one sided endeavour favouring the Hawks 38-9 this past weekend in Windsor.
This effort puts them at 7-1 and they are now the second seed in the OUA.
“With the win we’ve ensured ourselves a bye, so that’s what we went in to do. We played a fairly good game in all three phases and came away with the win,” said head coach, Michael Faulds.
Their victorious regular season allows them a well-earned week off to rest and get ready for their semi-final game on November 5.
“It’s going to help some of the guys that have little small injuries here and there, to get them as close to 100 per cent for November 5. But it’s also nice just as a whole to be able to kind of fine tune some things this week in practice and in meetings,” Faulds said.
The team was playing well coming off a three game winning streak as they enter the playoffs. Their momentum and intensity has been increasing each week, but in the thrill of victory, perspective is needed to focus the team.
“The post season is kind of its own season. So everything we’ve done up to this point doesn’t guarantee that were going to play well in the OUA semi-finial game,” Faulds said.
The competition in their upcoming game will be no pushover and the team knows it.
“In meetings, today we expressed to the guys that whoever we face … it’s going to be a really quality opponent that’s going to come in here guns blazing and try to win that football game. So we know we’re going to have two good weeks of preparation. Get healthy and play a really clean football game for us to have a chance to play for a Yates Cup the following week.”
Part of the reason for the team’s recent success can be attributed to Michael Knevel. The team made the change to spark the passing game and cut down on turnovers. Since week three, this change has resulted in 1413-yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
This production in the passing game adds another wrinkle to the offence, one that the defence now has to plan for. They can no longer stuff the box and stop the run when Knevel can throw deep strikes to his wide outs.
Knevel’s ability to read the blitz and know he has-one-on one matchups that were showcased against Windsor. Laurier was backed up in their own end and Windsor sent the pressure, which Knevel made them pay for as a result.
“On our own one-yard line and Michael threw a great ball to the outside shoulder of Brentyn. He made a great catch, getting one foot in bounds. And that kind of got us out of the shadow of our own goal post and gave us some breathing room,” Faulds said about the big play.
In football, the nice weather of the early weeks flutters away in exchange for high winds and dropping temperatures. This is why staples of championship teams have long been stout rushing attacks and punishing defence.
“Most definitely, we do play a brand of football that is well suited for inclement weather that is very common to this part of the world this time of the year. You can run the football and you can play stout defence and that’s really good,” Faulds said about the weather conditions anticipated for playoffs.
The Golden Hawks were playing fast and loose, but at times, the team was toeing the line between passion and recklessness. Faulds knew this and addressed it by calling a timeout.
“I felt the game was getting a little out of hand. In total, we committed 18 penalties, which is just far too many. Some, we thought, were warranted. Some, we felt, weren’t, but the message to the guys there when we called the timeout is: we just got to clean things up.” Faulds said.
When a team has to use a timeout for something like this, it shows how important the message was. That timeout could be valuable later, but in a blow out game, it’s better to settle your players down and refocus the team.
“That’s the message going into the playoffs. We can’t ever win a football game when we have 18 penalties from here on out. So we’ve got to clean things out,” Faulds said.
The team will go into the semi-final game prepared both mentally and physically. Although their opponent is unknown, one thing is for sure. Everything they have accomplished so far pales in comparison to the task at hand.
“It doesn’t matter the opponent,” Faulds said. “It’s going to be a really good challenge for us … even though we’re 7-1 and we have this nice bye week, it really means nothing at this point. We’ve got to really prepare this week. We’ve got to get healthy and have our best two weeks of practice.”