Waterloo Region Record
WATERLOO — The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks have gone through their pre-flight checklist and are taking off for the University of Saskatchewan this week.
The football Hawks have accepted a pre-season date with the Saskatchewan Huskies, a nod to 10th anniversary of the teams’ Vanier Cup clash.
The two squads hook up on Friday at 8 p.m. (EDT) for an out-of-conference tune-up at Saskatoon’s 6,000-seat Griffiths Stadium.
Following Laurier’s first three days of training camp, 60 Hawk players, coaches and support staff have been selected by the team to attend.
“It’s roughly a 50-50 split of the (players and coaches) we are taking and of the guys who are staying behind,” said Hawks head coach Michael Faulds.
“I told the team that the guys staying are obviously disappointed but we will try to get (an out-of-conference pre-season game) every year.”
The list of 51 players to participate include returning Hawk starters: quarterback James Fracas, the Ontario conference’s reigning MVP; running back Dillon Campbell, and receivers Marcus Arkarakas and Greg Nyhof.
Hawk rookies selected to make the trip include: kicker Nathan Mesher (Sir John A. Macdonald); receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr. (Ottawa); linebacker Noah Usherwood (Vancouver); running back Osayi Iginuan (Hamilton); and defensive lineman Trevaughan James (Whitby).
Mark Surya, a former Laurier receiver and unit coach, is set to make his debut as the team’s new offensive co-ordinator in Saskatoon.
The game, a rematch 10 years in the making, will be streamed live on CanadaWest.tv.
The Huskies, Canada West conference semifinalists last season, feature hometown quarterback Drew Burko, listed second in TD passes in Canada last year with 21, and defensive leader Geoff Hughes at linebacker.
In 2005, the two teams convened at Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne Stadium for Laurier’s unforgettable come-from-behind 24-23 Vanier Cup victory.
The cost of sending the Hawks to Saskatoon for two days, about $50,000, will be shared by both football programs with Laurier receiving a cut of the gate receipts.
“This game will be a chance for our coaches to dissect at each position who their guys are. We’ve got some good battles at certain positions,” said Faulds.
The Hawks, 4-4 last season before bowing out to the Western Mustangs in an Ontario conference quarter-final, open their regular season on Aug. 30 in Toronto against the York Lions.