Volume 94, Issue 39
Wednesday, November 8, 2000
Too bad it had to end like this
Is that really it? Is that really how it all ends?
After a season of Everest-like highs and horribly disheartening lows, the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks picked the 2000 edition of Mustang football apart with disturbing ease. The Mustang offense, at times one of the best in the country, was absolutely impotent. The defense, one that had held McMaster to a mere 8 points, unable to stop Laurier wide receiver/kick returner/speed demon Andre Talbot, as he almost single handedly carried the Golden Hawks to the Yates Cup.
Not one pundit saw this coming. After Western's last minute loss to Laurier earlier this year, this was supposed to be a good old fashioned barnburner. The London Free Press labelled it too close to call, while all the so-called experts saw this first round play-off matchup coming down to the last possession.
Instead of the closely contended slug fest everyone had hoped for, we were treated to a one-sided squash, which still, days after it happened, seems like a bad dream. Interceptions, fumbles, a defense powerless to stop Laurier's attack this was unlike anything Western had shown us before. Even in previous defeats to Queen's and Laurier, Western had at least been competitive. But Saturday, they seemed completely in over their heads, completely unable to compete with the elite of Ontario university football.
What could be worse than two of Western's greatest heroes, quarterback Mike O'Brien and runningback Fabian Rayne being rendered completely ineffective by a swarming Laurier defence? What could be worse than Western's latest graduating class being so unceremoniously dumped after five largely successful years?
What could possibly be more degrading? What could be worse than the awful on-field performance?
How about coach Larry Haylor charging Laurier with the stealing of signals and play calls? We can only hope Haylor has categorical proof of such allegations, otherwise the legendary field general may have only painted himself and his team as sore losers. To charge a team with cheating is a huge risk. If you're right, you're a martyr. If you're wrong, you're not just a losing football coach, you're a losing football coach making excuses.
Haylor also remained non-committal about his status as football coach for next year. Non-committal is also a perfect phrase to describe the entire football franchise after this year. Without the likes of O'Brien, Rayne, linebacker Mark Chortos and offensive lineman Mike Chuk what will of this team? What can we expect of next year's team without such stars?
The strong receiver crew will return and so will the heart of what was, at times, a dominating defensive unit. The young, inexperienced offensive line will be a year older and hopefully that much better, but it will also have to fill the massive hole left by the departure of Chuk.
But most disheartening, is the loss of O'Brien. Suddenly Western is need of a quarterback, a punter, a place-kicker and, most importantly, a leader. That might just be too many big shoes to fill.
The future seems clouded, if not stormy.
But right now any future seems better than the present.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000