Hawks crush Blues in season opener

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks football team opened their season with a 36-0 victory over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Labour Day Monday.

Fourth-year running back, Mike Montoya led the way for the Hawks, running over the Blues’ defence all night, on his way to 160 yards and three touchdowns.

“If you run with your heart and run hard, good things are going to happen,” said Montoya. “But it’s really our line up front that’s going to carry our offence. Right off the bat we pushed with the o-line and with those guys making holes it’s pretty easy to get going.”

With the graduation of former all-star, Ryan Lynch, Montoya comes into this season as the starting running back for the first time in his Laurier career. The Burlington native went to incredible lengths to prepare for his first season as a starter, spending the summer in Arizona training with NFL players including Arizona Cardinals’ running back Tim Hightower.

“I wanted to take my game to the highest level, and that was a great experience and a huge help,” said Montoya.

The Hawks were also dominant on the defensive side of the ball, not only shutting out the Blues, but also holding them to just 159 yards of total offence.

“I thought we dominated on both sides of the ball,” said manager of football operations and head coach Gary Jeffries. “Our defence was outstanding tonight. We’ve got kids who just fly to the ball and make plays.”

Second-year linebacker Mitchell Bosch led the defence with five tackles, an interception and a sack.

“It feels awesome,” said Bosch of the shut-out. “Our defence is always working hard, every play we strive for perfection.”

Despite the impressive win, the Hawks had some struggles in the passing game. Third-year Quarterback Luke Thompson had difficulty getting into a rhythm with his receivers, leading to numerous over-throws and dropped passes.

“I think we need to be a bit better mentally,” said Thompson. “Physically we’ve got a lot of talent but we busted too many plays, and we’ve really got to clean it up.”

Even with his early problems, Thompson managed to throw for 184 yards and his first touchdown of the season, a 37-yard strike to Dillon Heap early in the third quarter. Fourth-year wide receiver, Josh Bishop, was the only consistent performer in the passing game, catching five passes for a career-high 134 yards before he was forced to leave the game with an injury late in the first half.

The Hawks continue their season on Saturday, in London against last year’s provincial champions, the Western Mustangs, and will be looking for a much more complete effort.

“We made a lot of mistakes, we had way too many penalties, but I guarantee we’ll be better next week,” said Jeffries. “It’ always fun playing Western and it’s really fun going down to their place and knocking them off, and that’s our intention.”