Faulds lauded as top Canadian university football coach

Photo: Chad Leitch

Christine Rivet
Waterloo Region Record

Head coach Michael Faulds refuses to take credit for his Laurier Golden Hawks’ turnaround season — any of it.

“I’m the figurehead that gets to receive the award on the podium but if you think about it, our program is 125 people — players, coaches, scouts and staff.

“I’ve said it before. This is a staff award.”

Faulds was to be presented with the Frank Tindall Trophy as the coach of the year in U Sports football at a banquet in Hamilton Thursday night.

He shepherded the Hawks to a remarkable turnaround, going from a 1-7 (won-lost) season in 2013, his first at the helm, to this year’s impressive 7-1 campaign.

The Hawks dismissed both the McMaster Marauders and the mighty Western Mustangs in the playoffs to capture their first Yates Cup, the Ontario conference title, since 2005.

Laurier then absorbed a 36-6 body blow from the Laval Rouge et Or in a national semifinal on Saturday, but not before turning some heads.

Faulds becomes the fifth Golden Hawk coach in history to win the Tindall trophy, following in the footsteps of two-time winner Dave (Tuffy) Knight (1972, 1979) along with Rich Newbrough (1991), Rick Zmich (1995) and Gary Jeffries (2003).

This season, the Hawks set a school record for single-season touchdowns (43) and led the nation in rushing (281.4 yards per game). They were second in Canadian university football in scoring (42.6 points per game).

Faulds, 33, said the Hawks believed that if they put team goals like a Yates Cup championship ahead of individual ones, the awards would follow.

“They all took that message to heart and so they did things the right way.”

Following Laurier’s disappointing loss to Laval in the Uteck Bowl, Faulds said the Hawks had a wake-up call in Quebec City.

“This off-season, our players will work even harder. There is still a lot of work to be done.”

The Hawks are ready to follow their coach again, said Laurier’s linebacker Nakas Onyeka.

“The season didn’t go as planned. But knowing Coach Faulds, next season is going to be even better,” said Onyeka, one of four Hawks named all-Canadians on Thursday night.

“Coach Faulds is a young coach. I’m really grateful to have him as my coach. I feel like there is no one I’d rather have gone through my four years with.

“He’s one of my biggest inspirations. Although he is no longer a player, he is one of the guys. You could see that from your first meeting with him or if you knew him for years, he’s the kind of person that brings intensity.”

Faulds exited his university career in 2009 with the Western Mustangs as Canadian university football’s all-time passing leader with 10,811 airborne yards, a mark that stood until last season.

He is a two-time Yates Cup winner as a player. His first Ontario University Athletics coaching assignment was as the offensive co-ordinator for the York Lions from 2010 to 2012.

“Michael had all the tools to build a championship culture, including an educational philosophy that ensures student-athletes are developed academically, athletically and as leaders,” said Laurier’s athletics director Peter Baxter.

“He has surrounded himself with top coaching talent … recruited character student-athletes and set expectations that drive results.”

Other Canadian university football award winners announced Thursday night included: University of Regina quarterback Noah Picton, Hec Crighton Trophy (most valuable player); Manitoba linebacker D.J. Lalama, President’s Trophy (standup defensive player); Laval defensive end Mathieu Betts, J.P. Metras Trophy (outstanding down lineman); Mount Allison quarterback Jakob Loucks, Peter Gorman Trophy (top rookie); and Manitoba defensive back Cam Teschuk, Russ Jackson Award (outstanding academics, athletics and citizenship).

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