In 50 words or less: Can a team that is deep at nearly every position on either side of the ball find their starting QB and take down formidable foes in Western, Mac and Ottawa to capture their 8th Yates Cup?
Burning questions: Will Laurier finally beat Western?
Will they have, for the first time since Ryan Pyear, a QB who can lead the team?
Will the loss of Chima Ihekwoaba, Taurean Allen and Courtney Stephen devastate the defense?
How much of an impact will the additions of former Waterloo Warriors have on the season?
2009 recap: Expectations were sky high for the Hawks entering last season; their offense was expected to be explosive with arguably the best receivers in the OUA and a punishing backfield. But the loss of Luke Thompson early in the season all but dashed the high hopes for a Yates Cup. Evan Pawliuk stepped in behind centre and acquitted himself admirably. The undersized and awkward throwing pivot gave the Hawks just enough stability at his position to allow them to nearly run the table after a devastating loss to Western. The Hawks defeated their loathed neighbours from Guelph as well as the upstart Marauders from Hamilton, but fell victim to their QB's short stature losing to Ottawa by inches after a QB sneak on the goal line came up short on the final play of the game. However, a late season victory against the undefeated Queen's Golden Gaels bolstered the Hawks spirits, they would be the only team all season to defeat the eventual Vanier Cup champions. Inexplicably the Hawks found themselves as the second seed in the OUA and earned a week one bye, but the inevitable happened in week two. They lost to Western...again...again....again...ending their season.
Departures: DL Chime Ihekwoaba (NFL), CB Taurean Allen (CFL), FS Courtney Stephen (NCAA), OL Adam Bestard (CFL)
Arrivals: OL Ahmad Jaradat (UWO, eligible for 2011-2012 season), QB Shane Kelly (Columbia), OL Ben Davidson (SFU), DL David Montoya (WLU), LB Patrick McGarry (UW), FS Mitch Nicholson (UW), WR Dustin Zender (UW)
Keep an eye on: RB Julius Jones Carter / Rashad La Touche / Anton Bennett: The battle in the backfield will be the second most interesting of training camp, behind the other battle in the backfield (at QB). Will the Hawks want a big blocking back to protect Pawliuk? Will they want a quick slashing back for Luke Thompson to work with? Or will they go for a running back by committee plan?
OL Adam Hofstetter: A freshman last season, Hofstetter became a starter after transferring to Laurier from the U.S. With the loss of star lineman Adam Bestard, Hofstetter will be counted upon to anchor the line. And also watch WR Alex Anthony, one of the most recruited players in the country two seasons ago, who will be counted on to take some of the pressure of catching the deep ball away from Shamawd Chambers.
Coach & coordinators: The Golden Hawks' coaching staff has now become arguably one of the best and certainly the most bloated in the CIS--by which I mean to draw attention to the recent influx of coaching talent from the University of Waterloo. With the demise of the football program down the street, Carl Zender, UW's former receivers coach and an excellent recruiting tool, has signed on as a "quality control" coach for the Hawks and will be working under Ryan Pyear. And if the swirling rumours about the Throwin' Samoan possibly moving his office down the road come true (although for now Joe Paopao is only a guest observer during camp), Gary Jeffries, Ron VanMoerkerke and Pyear will have an excellent and experienced staff to work with.
Off-the-field factors: The on-going scandal surrounding football in southern Ontario undoubtedly is a distraction to all players, even if it is to a very small degree. All we can hope is that the testing is over and no more revelations about cheating players will come out. Players and coaches have moved on; let's hope the season moves on uninterrupted.
From last season's preview: "They might be a year away from a serious Yates run." - Neate Sager. How right you were Mr. Sager!
Stock up or stock down: Up. This might be the best opportunity the Hawks have at a Yates for a few seasons.
9/1/2010 at Western 7:00 PM
9/6/2010 at McMaster 1:00 PM
9/11/2010 vs. Toronto 7:00 PM
9/25/2010 vs. York 1:00 PM
10/2/2010 vs. Guelph 1:00 PM
10/9/2010 at Ottawa 1:00 PM
10/16/2010 vs. Queen's 1:00 PM
10/23/2010 at Windsor 1:00 PM