Golden Hawks kick-off season against Lions

Photo: Thomas Kolodziej
Photo: Thomas Kolodziej

Jamie Howieson
Laurier Athletics

Game Date: Sunday, August 30, 2015 – 1 p.m.
Game Location: York Stadium, Toronto
Live Webcast/Stats: OUA.tv

THE SKINNY

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and the York Lions kick off their 2015 seasons at York Stadium on the campus of York University on Sunday afternoon.

NEED TO KNOW

–    Laurier will be looking for their 2nd consecutive victory over the Lions after earning a 27-10 win at University Stadium last season.
–    This marks the second time in five years that the Hawks and Lions have met in their season openers. Laurier won that last contest by a score of 46-7 back on September 5, 2011.
–    The Hawks have won 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two schools. York’s lone win during that stretch came back in 2013, a 33-20 victory on their home field.
–    Laurier opened their 2015 campaign with a 33-10 loss to the Saskatchewan Huskies in non-conference play on August 21.

ALL-TIME SERIES

Laurier owns an all-time record of 36-6-0 against the Lions dating back to 1969. In the Hawks last nine trips to York, they own a 7-2 record.

MEET THE TEAMS
Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (0-0)

The Golden Hawks are coming off a bounce back year in 2014 in which they posted a 4-4 record to qualify for the OUA Quarter-finals. Their record improved by three wins from 2013, the first year at the helm for head coach Michael Faulds. Laurier would eventually lose out 25-10 to the third-seeded Western Mustangs in the quarter-finals to end their season.

Despite the loss, the Hawks gained valuable postseason experience and will look to carry that forward into 2015. Nineteen of the 23 players who started in the loss to Western are back for this season as the purple and gold look to make another move up the OUA standings.

Leading the way for Laurier will be running back Dillon Campbell of Whitby, Ont. The reigning OUA MVP returns for his fifth and final season after being drafted, and subsequently released, by the Toronto Argonauts. A CIS First Team All-Canadian in 2014, Campbell is coming off a season in which he rushed for the sixth-most yards in Canadian University history with 1,458 and found the endzone 13 times, the most in the country a year ago.

Under centre, quarterback James Fracas of Waterloo, Ont., returns for his fourth year with the team. Last season, he became just the second pivot in school history to complete at least 60 percent of his passes in consecutive seasons as he threw for 1,574 yards and 13 touchdowns. However, Fracas is currently listed as day-to-day after getting banged up against the Huskies last week. If he’s unable to start, backup Eric Morelli of Burlington, Ont., who threw for 116 yards against Saskatchewan in three quarters of action, would be in line to make his first career start.

Defensively, the Hawks lost two key pieces in the offseason as both Chris Ackie and Ese Mrabure-Ajufo were drafted in first round of the CFL draft. Looking to step in a fill the void will be returning third year players Brandon Calver of London, Ont., Nakas Onyeka of Brampton, Ont., and Kwaku Boateng of Milton, Ont. Calver and Onyeka, both linebackers, finished second and third on the team in tackles last season with 41.5 and 38.5 respectively, while Boateng, a defensive lineman, finished second in the OUA in sacks with six.

York Lions (0-0)

After posting two-win seasons for three straight years, the Lions took a step backwards as a program in 2014 as they went 0-8 to finish last in the conference. York struggled offensively, managing to score just 63 points, while allowing 382, the second most in the league.

Quarterback Jahmari Bennett of Mississauga, Ont., is expected to get the start under centre for the Lions. Heading into his fourth season for York, he took over the starting job in Week 6 and finished the season completing 53 of 95 passes for 742 yards. His top target will be last year’s leading receiver Adam Adeboboye of Toronto.

York’s ground game took a hit in the offseason as their two leading rushers are not back in 2015. Instead, the duties will fall to incoming running back Adrian Dolley of Brampton, Ont., a former Golden Hawk who has made the transition from defensive back to running back.

Defensively, the Lions will be led by defensive back Josh Small of Pickering, Ont., who finished last season as York’s second leading tackler with 41.5 to go along with three sacks and three pass breakups.

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