When the Gryphons last faced the Golden Hawks in the 2013 season opener, Laurier Head Coach Michael Faulds was making his coaching debut. Now finishing up his second season Faulds has a 5-10 record but he’s got things trending the right way. Last year’s 1-7 season has given way to 4-3 and a likely playoff spot. [Laurier earns a playoff spot in 14 of the 16 scenarios listed here.] Mind you, after a 4-1 start reality is catching up to the Hawks. Still, it’s a big improvement over last year and it gives them something to try to sell recruits.
Laurier’s losses all came against teams with better records than their own – Mac [7-0], Western [5-2] & Windsor [5-2]. Their wins are over UofT [2-6], Waterloo [0-7], York [0-7] & Carleton [4-3]. While Laurier is a young team, they do have some very talented players. RB Dillon Campbell may well be the OUA’s Player of the Year. DB Chris Ackie is a CFL prospect. DEs Kwaku Boateng and Ese Mrabure-Ajufo are 2nd and 3rd in the OUA in sacks.
A person could argue that Laurier has more to play for this week than Guelph since the Gryphons have already secured a first-round bye – win or lose. The WLU Sports Info people tell us that their team looks to lock up a playoff spot vs Guelph:
For fans of the purple and gold, the Hawks enter the matchup with the No. 4 Gryphons with a chance to finish anywhere from fourth in the OUA standings, and hosting a playoff game, to seventh and out of the playoffs.
In order to finish fourth, the Hawks need a win against Guelph plus some help from other teams in the conference. The only scenario in which Laurier misses the playoffs is if they lose to the Gryphons and both Carleton and Ottawa win their respective games. With plenty on the line, the Hawks should be expected to give their best effort of the season as they look to secure a spot in the postseason.
I like that Guelph coaches don’t appear to be downplaying this game, not according to this tweet anyways:
I still believe that several starters who could play if this was a playoff game, will sit out to better heal injuries. But the Gryphons won’t engage in the sort of wide-spread substitution that Western did at Queen’s a few years back. It seems to me that Stu Lang believes that momentum plays an important role in a successful season. And, if you’re not gaining or maintaining momentum you’re losing it. It’s not something you can turn off and on.
My Take: Laurier is almost exactly where I thought they would be. From 1-7 to 4-4 is a nice improvement but they’re near their peak until they improve their recruiting. I honestly don’t give them much chance on Saturday. I hope it’s not as close as their game this past week at McMaster [27-10]. I also don’t expect that the Gryphons will pound them as badly as Western did [64-3]. I do expect the Gryphons to revert to a more balanced attack on offense. Perhaps even giving extra emphasis to the running game that was under-utilized last week.
If Gryphon players seem to be lacking in motivation I’d show them the video from the Spring scrimmage with Laurier. Particularly, some of the arrogant and disrespectful antics of Laurier players. I hope none of the players forget that the WLU QB, while wearing a non-contact jersey, continued to run for 20 yards after the whistle was blown, then celebrated a touchdown. And he topped that off when he ran past the Guelph bench with his middle finger extended and yelled obscenities at Gryphon players. Forget about whether this game means anything in the standings, I hope players haven’t forgotten moments like that from the spring.
Bottomline: this is, and should be, played like a rivalry game regardless of the standings.
Recent series history: There have been a lot of close games in this series recently. But the Gryphons now have a chance to build a little winning streak versus the Golden Hawks. That would be nice to see after the Hawks held the upper hand for the decade prior to that.
2013 – 21-7 Guelph
2012 – 22-19 Guelph
2011 – 15-10 WLU
2010 – WLU wins Q-final
2010 – 36-2 WLU
2009 – 21-14 WLU
2008 – 15-13 WLU
2007 – 38-31 Guelph wins OUA semi-final
2007 – 37-27 WLU
Broadcast: Watch on OUA.tv or possibly listen on-line via Radio Laurier – rl.streamon.fm