In the last week of the regular season, both teams faced important games. In Ottawa, Guelph got was defeated by the Gee-Gees to finish the year with a 4-4 regular season record. Meanwhile the Hawks travelled to Windsor in a must-win situation to secure a playoff berth. Beating out the Lancers gave the Hawks a 4-4 record on the season and their home playoff date was in the hands of the Gryphons.
In the tie breaker, Laurier earned the last playoff home game available for the quarterfinals and Guelph would have to travel to Waterloo.
The two teams met in week six of the regular season. On October 2, the Gryphons took on the Hawks in a game that Guelph would like to forget. Laurier held Guelph to just two points and scored 36 of their own.
At the time, both teams were still in the midst of deciding who their starting quarterback would be.
Laurier’s Evan Pawluik (Kingston, Ont.) played the game for the Hawks and Guelph’s Luke Nangle (London, Ont.) started for the Gryphons. Pawluik hasn’t seen the field in a couple of games as Shane Kelly (Basking Ridge, NJ) has assumed the starting role for the Hawks.
“The last two and a half games Shane has assumed the number one role and he has gotten better as he has more experience and snaps,” said Golden Hawks head coach Gary Jeffries. “He’s done a good job for us so we’ll continue with him as our number one guy as we go forward but we have no reservations with either quarterback.”
For the Gryphons, Chris Rossetti (Mississauga, Ont.) has taken control of the quarterback position. Rossetti has made 99 completions on 170 attempts and has ten touchdowns under his belt this season. In practice the second-year has taken the most amount of reps this week and will start for the Gryphons over Nangle.
The Gryphons have the best pass defence in OUA. Last week we saw the Ottawa Gee-Gees take advantage of Guelph’s seventh ranked rushing defence by keeping the ball on the ground.
This week however, Laurier’s rushing game is ranked a lowly sixth in the league. Clearly, quarterbacks Kelly and Pawluik like to keep the ball in the air, but this may pose a problem when facing Guelph. Running back Anton Bennett (Toronto) leads the Hawks in rushing with 419 yards and five touchdowns. Perhaps he will be more relied upon when facing a strong pass defence team like Guelph.
“I think it’s important that we continue to build on what we’ve been doing. We are who we are and we’ve developed an offensive personality,” said Jeffries. “We feel it’s important to run a little bit in order to be successful in throwing it too.”
The Guelph offence might be in trouble as well. The Gryphons are a much better rushing team than passing team on paper and look to running back Nick FitzGibbon (Puslinch, Ont.) as a backbone to their rushing game. Unfortunately, the Gryphons may run into problems. Laurier has the third best rushing defence next to Western and Ottawa. Laurier’s Mitchell Bosch (Langley, B.C.) has 35 solo tackles and is a leader on the Hawks defensive structure. Receiver Jedd Gardner (Niagara Falls, Ont.) will counteract FitzGibbon on Gryphons offence.
“Two of our best players are Nick and Jedd and we obviously want a balanced attack to get both involved,” said Guelph head coach Stu Lang. “If one is stopped we’ll have to move to the other. We want to develop a flexible strategy.”
Watch as Laurier hosts the Gryphons this Saturday in the OUA football quarterfinals, live on The Score or streamed live on thescore.com. A live blog is also posted during the game at blogs.thescore.com.
In other quarterfinal action the Queen’s Gaels head to Hamilton in hopes of knocking off the McMaster Marauders.
GUELPH STATS LEADERS
Chris Rossetti (Mississauga, Ont.)
99 completions, 170 attempts, 1447 yards, 10 touchdowns
Nick Fitzgibbon (Puslinch, Ont.)
806 yards, 2 touchdowns
Jedd Gardner (Niagara Falls, Ont.)
512 yards, 30 receptions, 5 touchdowns
Adam Dunk (Guelph, Ont.)
42 solo tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Jordan Duncan (Grimsby, Ont.)
34 solo tackles, 5 interceptions
Matt Rossetti (Mississauga, Ont.)
28 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble
LAURIER STATS LEADERS
Shane Kelly (Basking Ridge, NJ)
86 completions, 149 attempts, 1095 yards, 6 touchdowns
Anton Bennett (Toronto)
419 yards, 5 touchdowns
Dillon Heap (Waterloo, Ont.)
466 yards, 41 receptions, 5 touchdowns
Mitchell Bosch (Langley, B.C.)
35 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Giancarlo Rapanaro (Niagara Falls, Ont.)
23 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
Daniel Bishop (Mississauga, Ont.)
20 solo tackles, 1 forced fumble
- Source: OUA –