Hawks 1-1 after season openers
Men’s football battled Windsor on Saturday Sept. 6, losing the game after allowing a touchdown with 39 seconds remaining, making their record one win and one loss to start the season .
Last week was an emotional roller coaster for the Wilfrid Laurier University football team.
They experienced a rush of confidence after dominating the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 53 to 17. Only five days later, they travelled four hours to face the Windsor Lancers and suffered a devastating last minute loss in the fourth quarter.
According to head coach Michael Faulds, a short practice week after a huge win against Toronto may have worked against them coming into their second game.
“There was a little bit of too much hype around campus this last week and we had a good week of practice, but not the best week of practice we’ve had,” he said.
Two games into the season, the Hawks have a lot to be proud of, but also some areas of concern.
On the plus side, they got into the win column right away this year, squashing the image of the one and seven team from last year.
On offense, running back Dillon Campbell has rushed 470 yards in two games, including 293 in a record-breaking game against Toronto.
Quarterback James Fracas has been the picture of consistency at the quarterback position and has thrown 548 yards in the first two games.
He sports a 77.8 per cent pass completion percentage, trailing behind only Will Finch of the Western Mustangs at 84%.
Defensively, the team leads Ontario University Athletics in sacks with eight, four of which came in one game from one player: defensive end Kwaku Boateng.
Ese Mrabure-Ajufo and Chris Ackie have also shown off the speed of Laurier’s defense so far this season.
Ajufo has recorded two tackles this season, and both of them have been sacks, resulting in a total of 13 yards lost for the opposing teams.
In Windsor, Ackie used his speed to recover an on side kick, and set the Golden Hawks up for their second touch down one minute.
Kicker Ronnie Pfeffer is also leading OUA in the farthest average punt distance with 45.7.
He also is second in the OUA in number of field goals made, making six of his seven attempts., including a kick from 49 yards out.
However, there are still some kinks to work out for the club, according to Faulds.
“We have to be more consistent on both sides of the ball,” he said, following the loss to Windsor.
“We can play better football and we are going to learn from this.”
The Hawks had a tough time containing fifth-year Windsor quarterback Austin Kennedy on Saturday, and had a massive breakdown in coverage that lead to the game-winning score.
The club also felt a little banged up after the loss, making staying healthy a priority.one of the team’s priorities fir the week.
Campbell was forced to leave the game for a couple of plays after taking a hard hit.
Kick returner, Will Pitt-Doe was hit hard and forced out of the game in the first half, forcing Marcus Arkarakas to come in as a replacement returner.
Additionally, Kwaku Boateng suffered a hip pointer, despite playing for most of the game.
“It was a really physical game… at least now we have a full week of prep,” Faulds said.
“We’ll be healthy come next Saturday.”
What is left to be determined now is how the team will deal with the adversity of the tough loss, especially as their next three games are against the three lowest ranked teams in the OUA.
They face the University of Waterloo on Sept. 13, followed by a bye week.
They then take on Carleton University for Homecoming on Sept. 27 and York University, come to town on Oct. 4.
Fracas believes the next few weeks are going to be about staying strong mentally.
“We’re ready. Pretty much all we need to do is keep our heads clear,” he said.
Faulds believes playing Waterloo will be good for the team going forward.
“I think it is going to motivate our guys more. We need the best week of practice coming up. Waterloo is our cross town rival, and they are going to be excited to play us,” he said.