Mustangs set to declaw Hawks
By Alex Chiang
If one word could sum up Wilfred Laurier's football team this season it's transition. Over the last two seasons, the Golden Hawks were the preseason favourites to win the Ontario University Athletic Association division, but entering the 1997 campaign, they're not even expected to make the playoffs.
Laurier head coach Rick Zmich has been given a daunting task to field a competitive team that has lost more than half of last season's starting lineup.
"Last year we certainly underachieved," he said. "Historically we've had some great match-ups with Western, but this year we're just not in the same position."
Last Saturday, the young and inexperienced Golden Hawks were pummelled by Waterloo 24-1, proving they're not the team that was once a legitimate threat in the OUAA.
"Last week was just a baptism under fire of sorts," Zmich said. "Sure we've had to change some of the spokes, it happens to all programs, maybe less so at Western, but we just have to rebuild."
The most important loss from last year's team may be the graduation of quarterback Kevin MacDonald. MacDonald led a Laurier offense that lived and died by the pass, throwing the ball over 90 per cent of the time.
Replacing MacDonald will be freshman Kevin Taylor. Initially slated as the second-string passer, Taylor started the second half against Waterloo when starter, Mark Lough went down with a concussion.
With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, the Hawks will run the ball more often than in previous years. Another consideration however, is that the team now boasts two strong running backs in Andy Bacon and rookie Chad Kennedy.
When the Hawks do throw the ball, they have an excellent pack of receivers led by Corey Grant and Zach Treanor, who always seem to play well against the purple and white.
Mustang head coach Larry Haylor insists that putting pressure on Taylor by way of blitzing more frequently is not in Western's game plan.
"The problem is that if he knows we're coming, he'll target one receiver because it'll be man-to-man coverage," Haylor said. "The best thing to do against a young quarterback is to create uncertainty by mixing our coverage and disguising our intentions."
In Haylor's opinion, Laurier does stack up well to Western and is an opponent that should not be taken lightly.
"They have a lot of talented athletes," he said. "When I look at Laurier, I see a big and young offensive line, a good receiving core, strong running backs and a very good kicking game."
As for Western's injury report, linebacker Derek Krete and fullback Jason McKibbon are both listed as day-to-day while tight end Mike Wilson, who hasn't practiced all week, is questionable.
The No.4 ranked Mustangs must win in order to keep pace with No.1 ranked Waterloo who will play a rather weak Windsor squad this week.
Tomorrow's kick-off is at 2 p.m. at J.W. Little Stadium.