Laurier men’s football team looking for third straight win in rematch against desperate Waterloo
The Golden Hawks and Warriors will meet for the second installment of the “Battle of Waterloo” this weekend, with massive playoff implications at stake in the regular-season finale this Saturday.
The two rivals are heading in opposite directions over the past three weeks with the #8 ranked Golden Hawks having all but clinched a playoff spot in the OUA West following two straight victories over McMaster and Windsor.
On the other hand, the Warriors who were ranked as high as fourth in the country following their victory over Laurier in week two, have been reeling, losing three straight contests and needing a victory this weekend in order to qualify for the OUA West playoffs.
“We know Waterloo is in desperation mode and that we are going to see everything from them. Trick plays, fakes, etc… and we’ll be ready for it,” Coach Michael Faulds said.
The Golden Hawks have been rolling on all three phases of the ball recently, putting forth another dominant victory this past weekend – 33-8 – over Windsor, honouring their 21-graduating seniors in the process. Laurier was able to hold their opponents off the scoreboard in the first half for the third consecutive game this past Saturday and have won their past two contests by a combined score of 55-8.
“We got to keep the momentum going. There’s a lot of talk out there about who’s in the playoffs, who’s not and what the different scenarios are. For us the ultimate goal is that every meeting, every practice, every opportunity that we have, we got to become a better football team,” Coach Faulds said.
The Warriors were able to defeat Laurier 36-12 earlier this year in the first meeting between the two city rivals. Waterloo was able to spoil Laurier’s annual homecoming game, recording over 550 yards on offense, 316 of them on the ground, while their defence was able to force five Laurier turnovers.
Superstar quarterback, Tre Ford had arguably his greatest game of the season against the Golden Hawks, accounting for nearly 400 total yards himself and scoring three touchdowns. The dynamic all-star used his legs all game and was able to connect with James Basalyga for a 76-yard touchdown pass just over a minute into the matchup, a play that still stands as the longest touchdown reception in the OUA this season.
“They came in here and they beat us in week two. We know that they still got arguably the most dominant player in the country in Tre Ford,” Coach Faulds said. “Any time he is on the field we got to be treating it with caution.”
Faulds has seen the brilliance of Ford first-hand over the past three seasons. Ford is currently third in the OUA in rushing yards and second in the league in passing yards to go along with his ten total touchdowns on the season. Faulds is focused on containing Ford’s scrambling ability from the pocket and limiting the mistakes on offense in the upcoming matchup this Saturday.
We’ve got to continue our work ethic and ride this wave of confidence, making sure we build upon that before our game this Saturday.Laurier Men’s Football coach Michael Faulds
“We’ve continued to grow every single week throughout this season. Do we believe we’re a better football team then we were back then? Most definitely so,” Coach Faulds said.
“Our recipe for success will be to limit the mistakes, execute well and contain Mr. Ford.”
Connor Carusello will start this upcoming week after missing the first contest due to a shoulder injury. The rookie quarterback, Taylor Elgersma started in his first career game back in week two and understandably struggled a bit with his reads, during what was a heavy downpour at University Stadium.
Elgersma like much of the team, has improved throughout the year and was a pivotal part of the team’s 33-8 victory this past Saturday, connecting with star receiver, Ente Eguavoen on a 48-yard touchdown pass to put the game away in the fourth quarter.
“Credit to Taylor. We’re really comfortable with him. Coach Galloway and I both have really good confidence in Elgersma,” Coach Faulds said.
“Connor Carusello continues to improve every week as well, so we are in a good position right now with our quarterbacks,” he continued.
Laurier will hope to continue the momentum that their offense has had in recent weeks. The rushing offense had one of their best games of the season last weekend, with three different running backs making an impact on the game. The passing offense saw their best performance on the season with Eguavoen coming off an OUA offensive player of the week award after recording 222 receiving yards against the Lancers. His performance good for the fourth highest total in OUA history and the second largest single-game total in Laurier football history.
“Waterloo is going to see our tape and they are going to realize that we are just not the same team,” Eguavoen said after Saturday’s game.
Tommy Bringi was also named OUA defensive player of the week after forcing a fumble and recording his league leading third interception of the year. The Golden Hawks defense remains one of the top units in the OUA and leads the entire country with an astounding 25 takeaways through just five games.
Coach Bertoia and the Warriors offense have scored a total of 36 points through their past three games and will need to see the unit improve this weekend as their only path to the playoffs involves a victory over Laurier.
The six-team OUA West division has been rather wild this year with each team having lost at least once and every team having won twice. The Western Mustangs are the only team who has officially guaranteed their spot in the playoffs thus far and no team has been eliminated.
While Laurier (3-2) will battle Waterloo (2-3) this weekend, the remaining OUA West games feature; Guelph (3-2) against McMaster (2-3) who is fighting for their playoff lives and Windsor (2-3) who needs a win against Western (4-1).
Based on the results this weekend, there amazingly can still be a five-way tie at 3-3 in the division. A Laurier loss to Waterloo combined with a McMaster win and a Windsor upset over Western would see this possibility become a reality and is the only way in which Laurier would miss the playoffs.
“We’re gaining more confidence with what we are able to do offensively. However, we are not satisfied, and we still got to keep going,” Coach Faulds said.
Having dominated the rivalry throughout the past two decades, the Golden Hawks have not lost at Waterloo’s home field since 2002. While the rivalry has became a lot closer in recent years, a Laurier win this weekend would go a long way towards their hopes of a home playoff game.
“It’s been a while since we’ve had a home playoff game here and that would be special,” Coach Faulds said.
Their last home playoff game and last playoff matchup overall was four years ago in 2017 when they beat McMaster before falling to the Mustangs in the 110th Yates Cup. Laurier who saw a rise in the national rankings this week, moving up one spot to #8, will be prepared for everything that Waterloo will throw at them in a pivotal season finale this weekend.
“Momentum and confidence are big in the world of sports. We’ve got to continue our work ethic and ride this wave of confidence, making sure we build upon that before our game this Saturday,” Coach Faulds said.
Laurier is hoping to ride that momentum, gain a home playoff game and shut the Warriors out of the post-season in the process. Kickoff between the two teams is set for 1PM EST this Saturday at Warriors Field and can be watched on OUA.tv.