Golden Hawks look forward to 2016 OUA playoffs

Photo by Marco Pedri
Photo by Marco Pedri

“Protect the nest.” This is the Laurier Golden Hawks Football team motto as they advance to the semi-finals.

It will be the first time the Golden Hawks will have home field advantage in the playoffs since 2010.

This is a very exciting year for the fourth-year seniors on the team, as they have been able to create a polar opposite season to their rookie years.

“All the guys that have been here for four years have really played a big part in [Laurier football’s] turnaround. After the last win against Windsor, the fourth-year guys really got to see how they went from a 1-7 team their first year to a 7-1 team their fourth year,” said head coach, Michael Faulds.

On Saturday November 5, the Golden Hawks will take on the McMaster Marauders for the first time this year. However, the Marauders are looking for redemption after the Laurier Golden Hawk’s eliminated them from the 2015 season playoffs.

The Laurier Golden Hawks, led by quarterback, Michael Knevel, face off against McMaster’s defence which allowed the fewest points in Ontario on Saturday.

Laurier had its most successful season in history under Michael Faulds with their only loss coming at the hands of the Western Mustangs.

Michael Knevel has been an integral part of the team’s success this season, as he has thrown for 1516 passing yards already this season and will look to continue his rhythm against McMaster.

If the Golden Hawks want to win this game, they’re also going to have to utilize star running back, Eric Guiltinan, who has been an offensive weapon so far this season. Guiltinan has rushed for 759 yards and picked up ten touchdowns over the course of the year. The McMaster defence will be sure to have a plan to try and defuse Guiltinan and the Golden Hawks running game.

On the other hand, McMaster should have a hard time getting their offence rolling against the Laurier defence which has been the backbone of this team all season long.

Led by veteran linebacker, Nakas Onyeka, defensive end Kwaku Boateng in the trenches, Godfrey Onyeka and Malcom Thompson, the Golden Hawks have a good chance against McMaster this weekend, as these key players have shut down the opposing teams’ passing game all year.

Nakas Onyeka has been an absolute warrior this season, leading the defence with 59.5 tackles in the regular season.

Kwaku Boateng should also be a big factor in this game as the  No. 1 ranked CIS prospect for the upcoming CFL draft will be looking to add to his impressive sack total from the regular season.

Along with other key players, the Golden Hawks can boast the most quarterback sacks, as well as defensive touchdowns in all of Canada.

Faulds is emphasizing the importance of both sides of the ball coming into this grudge match.

“We had a really good regular season and earned the first round bye, so we were able to get healthy and get the extra week of preparation. Mac is a really tough opponent, with two really good defensive ends … and a fifth-year quarterback. This means we will have to do a really good job on both sides of the ball.”

Although Laurier did have an impressive regular season, they should be sure not to expect an easy game.

McMaster is lead by quarterback Asher Hastings, who threw for an impressive 1915 passing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season.

Running back, Chris Pezzetta, has also been a force for the Marauders this season, racking up 701 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the year.

Faulds is urging fan participation on Saturday games, especially when it comes to playoffs. With weather looking outstanding for Saturday’s battle versus McMaster, he hopes to see student and alumni support alike.

“We want to win a Yates Cup. We want to get to a Yates Cup. We’re just four quarters away from that.” Faulds concluded.

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