Laurier to battle Waterloo in homecoming matchup featuring two top ten teams in the country

Photo fo a Laurier flag with a crowd visible in the foregrond.
Photo by Darien Funk

Eighteen months removed from their last matchup; the battle of Waterloo will resume this weekend as the Golden Hawks football team will look to start their season 2-0 against their city rivals.

The Battle of Waterloo is held between the Golden Hawks and Warriors each year across all of their varsity sports teams. Since March 2020 and the cancellation of university sport last season, the two schools have not faced off in over a year.  

That will change this weekend when Coach Faulds and his eight-ranked Laurier football team will match up against Coach Bertoia and the fifth-ranked team in the country, the Waterloo Warriors. 

Both the Golden Hawks and Warriors are 1-0 after dominant week one victories against York and Windsor, respectively last weekend.

Laurier’s defense and special teams led the team to a commanding 37-6 victory in their first game back, while the Warriors used an impressive performance by quarterback Tre Ford and their defense to beat the Lancers 42-14 on Saturday night. 

“I was impressed with the energy last week,” Faulds said. 

“There is still lots to clean up, but we were able to play really well in all three phases,” he continued. 

With changes to the OUA structure and schedule, resulting in a shortened OUA season and an ultra-talented OUA west division, both Faulds and Bertoia know that this game is pivotal to where the teams end up in the standings. 

The Homecoming match up this weekend will be the first of two games between the teams this season, as they are set to meet again in the final game of the year which may carry serious playoff implications. 

The Battle of Waterloo has seen some incredible games throughout the past several years and should be no different this year with each team carrying high expectations into the season, especially given their week one victories. 

Faulds is 6-1 against the cross-city rivals since joining the team in 2013 and will hope that he can bring that win total to seven this upcoming weekend. 

The last football matchup between the two teams was in October of 2019 where Laurier was able to defeat Waterloo 53-50 in triple overtime.

The game which turned out to be an instant classic, featured over 1,000 yards between the two teams and 12 combined touchdowns. The Golden Hawks were able to rush for nearly 400 yards, while Warriors quarterback Tre Ford had five touchdowns and nearly 500 yards. 

It’s great for the community. Although it won’t quite be like the homecoming of years past, it will still be an exciting environment on Saturday.

Michawl Faulds, WLU Football coach

“Coach Bertoia is going to have them ready, and they will be excited. We have had some great games against them over the past several years,” Faulds said. 

Ford is one of the top players in all of Canada. The dynamic quarterback is best with the ball in his hands, forcing defenses to account for his talent in both the pass and run game. Ford was ranked ninth in the fall CFL scouting bureau and is the heavy favourite to win MVP in the OUA conference this year. 

Ford began his season last week with nearly 300 combined yards and three touchdowns, two of them rushing. Coach Faulds and his defense, who recorded two safeties and four interceptions last week, will have their hands filled this Saturday when Ford enters University Stadium. 

“Obviously they are led by their quarterback Tre Ford who is a dynamite player that we have a lot of respect for,” Faulds said. 

The Warriors entered this season as championship contenders and were ranked in the top five of the country on Tuesday after USPORTS released their weekly rankings. On the other hand, Laurier had also entered their season with high expectations and ranked in the top ten (#8) after their dominant victory last Saturday at home. 

The Golden Hawks saw impressive performances on all three levels of their defense last week and will need to continue that this upcoming weekend. Defensive back, Shomari Hutchinson, was named OUA special teams’ player of the week after blocking two kicks and recording an interception along with nine tackles. 

Linebacker and team leader, Tommy Bringi, picked up where he left off in 2019 as an OUA all-star. He recorded an incredible interception and delivered on several big hits last week, while defensive lineman John O’Reilly recovered two fumbles. 

One of the biggest questions facing Faulds and his team this week is the availability of veteran quarterback, Connor Carusello. Carusello left the opening game in the first quarter last week after a shoulder injury. He remains “day to day,” with Faulds uncertain if he will be able to play this weekend. 

“He’s seeing our trainer every single day. We won’t get ahead of ourselves and will have a better indication later in the week,” Faulds said of Carusello. 

If Carusello is not able to play, second-year quarterback Taylor Elgersma will earn his first career OUA start. Elgersma played incredibly well in his first OUA matchup last week, throwing for over 100 yards and a touchdown through three quarters of play off the bench. 

The two teams will reignite their rivalry this weekend with high stakes on the line. Laurier will be at home for their annual homecoming matchup as one of the two teams will suffer their first loss of the season. On the other hand, the winner will be in great shape with two wins in their first two games of a shortened six-game OUA season. 

“They have quite a few marquee players, we know we’re going to have to execute well,” Faulds said. 

“It’s great for the community. Although it won’t quite be like the homecoming of years past, it will still be an exciting environment on Saturday,” he continued. 

Kickoff between the Golden Hawks and Warriors is set for 1:00 PM on Saturday and Laurier fans can purchase tickets until kickoff, through the athletics website.

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