Volume 96, Issue 10
Friday September 13, 2002

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Western and Laurier - Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

Niru Somayajula/Gazette

GET THE @^&%^ OUTTA MY WAY! Defensive backs Greg Henderson (32) and Chris McElroy (36) look to romp through the Laurier line the way they did against York.

By Jordan Bell
Gazette Staff

One team is enjoying the sweet fruits of success, while the other team is beggin' for scraps.

The Western Mustangs and the Laurier Golden Hawks are two teams at exact opposite ends of the spectrum and tonight they will toss on their helmets and battle in Waterloo.

The Mustangs are coming off back-to-back victories against Windsor and York, the former a 52-5 pasting and the latter a 16-11 victory. The victories not only boosted the Mustangs to a perfect 2-0 record and a share for first place in the Ontario University Athletics conference, but also uncovered an immensely improved and revitalized roster.

Quarterback Chris Hessel continues to polish his game in the pocket, rookie receiver Andy Fantuz has exploded on the scene with back-to-back 100 yard receiving games and consistent running back Drew Soleyn has done what was expected of him this season – rack up yards and lots of 'em.

Add a stout defense that has only allowed one touchdown on the season and the Mustangs look quite impressive. Head coach Larry Haylor, however, said the victories don't reveal everything.

"We're a very young team," Haylor said. "On all phases of our game, we're still far from where we want to be."

On the other hand, the Golden Hawks have experienced a nightmarish opening to the 2002 campaign. In their season opener, dubbed the "Battle of Waterloo," the Golden Hawks lost 18-16 on a 35 yard "hail mary" pass to Waterloo receiver Ian Forde with six seconds left in the game.

"It's the old cliché – 'If only this happened on this play'," said Golden Hawks head coach Rick Zmich. "But, we've remained very positive [this week]. You can only control certain things to a certain extent."

Looks can be immensely deceiving, however, in regards to the Golden Hawks. If there is one player who can make or break a team in the OUA (other than possibly Kojo Aidoo of McMaster), it's Golden Hawks quarterback Ryan Pyear, an immensely gifted passer and athlete. Pyear missed the Windsor game due to a concussion and Haylor emphatically stated that if the Mustangs take the Golden Hawks lightly, it will be to their detriment.

"If we are [complacent], we're very foolish," Haylor said.

Pyear will be flanked by an impressive offensive line that includes OUA first-team centre Jeff Melis. Receivers Joel Wright and Mike Maurice will provide targets for Pyear's gun of an arm.

On the defensive end, defensive back David Agro and insanely athletic Rohan Thompson fuel a core that returned nine of 12 starters this season.

"They have size and lots of it," said defensive lineman Adam DiCola. "We always get a big game from Laurier and we expect no different on Friday night."

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