There’s Always Next Year for the Laurier Football Team

– Kyle Denton, Sports Editor

In a season of ups and downs, Laurier could never gain enough momentum to keep the season on track.

The men’s football team was thought to be a force to be reckoned with when starting the season back in September, with the CIS ranking them tenth in the country.

After a convincing 41-7 win on the road against York to kick-off the year, spirits were running high.

Those high hopes began to fade a little bit quicker than the Golden Hawks would have liked, however.

The team’s momentum was crushed by Windsor in Laurier’s home opener with a 41-40 loss after surrendering the lead late in the 4th quarter. Losing a game like that seemingly left the team with little confidence, as they followed up with two more losses and after four games, carrying a very surprising 1-3 record.

Homecoming is all a team needs to turn things around and with a huge 51-16 win against the University of Ottawa and a 69-3 against Waterloo the next week, the Golden Hawks moved back up to .500 football.

But things began to stall after that.

“The highpoint [of the season] was Homecoming against Ottawa, but we couldn’t maintain that play all season,” head coach Gary Jefferies said.

That high level of football would not be seen again during the season. Laurier lost their next game in the incredibly windy conditions against McMaster 25-6 and barely limped into the playoffs after a 15-10 win against Guelph.

Laurier’s showing in their playoff game against Queen’s was frustrating, not only ending their eight-year streak of making it to the OUA playoff semi-finals, but also star receiver, Dillion Heap’s (and six other Laurier players’) five-year career as a Golden Hawk.

The low scoring 14-10 loss was marred by Golden Hawks turnovers. Quarterback Shane Kelly threw three interceptions and no touchdowns, while Queen’s quarterback Ryan Mitchell – who had never taken a snap as a starter – kept Queen’s in a position to win, throwing for 272 yards and no interceptions.

Jefferies agreed that not only were turnovers a key factor in the loss, but also physical and mental mistakes, leading to costly penalties.

“We thought we had the parts. When we got something going, we’d stab ourselves in the foot,” Jefferies said, disappointed.

This summed up everything that was the Laurier Golden Hawks’ 2011 men’s football season. There were some high points, highlighted by huge victories like their homecoming game, but also low points highlighted by key losses against Windsor, Western and McMaster.

And the team ultimately stabbed themselves in the foot one too many times, ending a football season earlier than anyone would have expected.

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