In a loss 25-8 to McMaster, Laurier Football wrapped up their first year under new head coach Michael Faulds. On the surface it appears that Laurier had a disappointing season with a 1-7 record, but if you were to look deeper you would see that this program has a lot of potential in the upcoming future.
Coach Faulds has a history with offense and, more specifically, the quarterback position, and in his first year the offense took a while to gain some consistency. Losses to the University of Guelph, Toronto, and York showed that issue early on. The offense would play great for short periods of time, but were unable to play a full sixty minutes at that level.
This led to a quarterback change mid-way through the year from Julien John to James Fracas. “We just needed a change and nothing against Julien, he’s a hard working player and a good quarterback, but the team needed a spark and Fracas gave us that spark. He does a good job of taking care of the ball and managing the offense,” Coach Faulds said when talking about the switch.
In Fracas’ first start, he was able to lead the Golden Hawks to 41-10 win under the winless W
aterloo Warriors. Although the strength of the offense that day came from the running game under Dillon Campbell, who gained 180 yards on the ground to his 25 carries. The Golden Hawks were able to feed their running game and own 31 minutes of the clock that day. That was the lone bright spot for the Golden Hawks from a win/loss perspective.
The Golden Hawks played a lot of close games this year, losing to Windsor by one on homecoming in overtime, leading the first place Western Mustangs at half time, and losing to Queens by four as well. For a young team this a good sign.
“The experience we gained playing in tight games, losing in overtime, is great experience for our guys. We only graduate two players where most teams lose 10-12 players, our guys are going to get stronger in the weight room and understand the system better. They are already excited talking about 2014,” Coach Faulds said about his team and the future for next year.
A one win season is nothing to be proud of by any means, but the experience that the players gained by having so many close games is something that should not be ignored, especially looking towards next year. The biggest key for this team moving forward is making sure that they focus on playing a full sixty minutes every game and, like Coach Faulds said, making sure they execute in all three aspects of the game.
Growing the team doesn’t happen overnight. There has to be a lot of hard work put into the weight room in order to grow as a team, and Coach Faulds is excited about what changes are ahead for his team. “I am excited to see the change physically with our players. They are about to enter into an off season strength and conditioning program that they have never seen before and I think we are going to change physically as well.”
Recruiting is in full force as well. Laurier has already signed six new recruits and they are hoping to sign 20-25 recruits in total. Depending on how each of them develop as players, the future is uncertain but could be very bright since typically recruits don’t make a difference until their second or third year in the program.
A full offseason for the players to develop physically is a great place to start, but the main difference will come with the players knowing the system that they are going to play in. When players have to think less and react more and let instincts take over, the better they become as a team because it allows each player to play fast, something Coach Faulds’ system on offense is supposed to do. They never huddle before the snap and like to push the tempo in the game.
For a team that is rebuilding, wins are very rare to come by, especially in a coach’s first year. Normally times are rough before they get better, but the team is headed in a great direction. The offensive system is something that is run at the Canadian Football League level, and this can help players transition to that game and the full effect comes in attracting new recruits to the program.