Coming off an impressive 2009 season that saw Laurier’s Golden Hawks finish second in OUA regular season play, the pressure is on for the Hawks to improve upon last year’s early playoff exit.
Head coach Gary Jeffries has high expectations for his Hawks, believing they have what it takes to capture a Yates Cup championship.
“It’s our goal every year, of course, and this year is no exception,” Jeffries says. “We think we have all the pieces needed, now it’s just a matter of putting those pieces together.”
One of the key components to last year’s successful regular season was a strong ground game, evidenced by Mike Montoya capturing the league’s rushing title. Jeffries believes the rushing attack will be key to the team’s success again.
“This is one of the best recruiting classes we’ve had in terms of the offensive line, in addition those returning,” says Jeffries. “In addition to our tailbacks, we are probably about as strong as we have been in years at the fullback position.”
To improve upon their semi-final exit to Western last season, the Hawks hope to have a strong year out of their quarterbacks again this time around.
“[Evan] Pawliuk worked extremely hard in the second-half of last season, and he also had a great off-season, as did Luke Thompson. We also brought in a new kid from the U.S., Shane Kelly. Those three all have a chance to start this season.”
Thompson began last season as the starter, before suffering a season-ending knee injury, giving up quarterback duties to Pawliuk. Kelly, a new addition to the team, has lots of American college ball experience. He started for the Ivy League Columbia Lions last season, and backed-up for the Atlantic 10’s Temple Owls in his freshman year.
Also expected to help out the offense is wide receiver Dillon Heap, who was a CIS first-team All-Canadian last year.
Laurier’s defense should not be underestimated either, coming off a year that saw them lead the league with the fewest points against.
Despite the potential for a strong season, Laurier will have to top the defending Vanier Cup champions in Queen’s, a team who has had their number over the past three years in Western, and a revamped team with what should be a punishing offense in Ottawa.
Laurier kicks off their season on September 1 at Western, in front of what will likely be a hostile crowd. Their home opener is against the Toronto Varsity Blues on September 11.