The Huskies’ football season came to a close late last week, and for the first time in nearly a decade, the team made it all the way to the semi final for the Vanier Cup. With a 5-3 record in regular season, the team fought their way through playoffs to the Canada West final and became the 2018 winners of the Hardy Cup for the first time since 2006.
On Nov. 10, the team defeated the previously perfect-record-holding University of Calgary Dinos. They then faced the Western University Mustangs on Saturday, Nov. 17, as contenders for the Mitchell Bowl. Although both teams were tied at halftime at 17-17, the Huskies’ sole touchdown in the fourth quarter wasn’t enough to carry them to victory once again. The Mustangs will play Université Laval in Quebec on Saturday, Nov. 24.
The team’s success this year did not come as a stroke of luck and wasn’t the result of any major coaching changes. Head Coach Scott Flory says that the team benefitted from a particular practice methodology.
“Our off-season had a big part in it — when we get into January when the guys committed to improving — and other than that, we’re pretty consistent in our approach,” Flory said. “[Next season], we’re going to continue development and expand our off-season strength and conditioning program. We’re pretty lucky with our coach, Joel Lipinski, and the excellent work he does with our team.”
The head coach also says that the players’ behaviour and overall mood going into each game had a positive effect on the outcome of the season.
“I think guys were focused, energized and absolutely ready to play… We did our best job as coaches to prepare them, and they were focused and locked into the game,” Flory said. “There were plenty of moments throughout the season that were pretty indicative about our character. There were games against Regina and Calgary … where our guys got penalties and kept fighting back, both offensively and defensively.”
Although this year was an exciting one for fans, Flory says that each victory came with celebration and also a recognition of the next bigger game ahead of them.
“We enjoyed the moment but also didn’t get lost in it — we enjoyed and appreciated it but were also focused on the task at hand and knew what we had to do,” Flory said.
Many players, especially those who had been with the team for many years, had very successful seasons. Although some players stand out, like Kyle Siemens, who threw 256 yards in the final game, Coach Flory stresses the importance of recognizing the efforts put forth by the all senior players this season.
“There was sometime about halfway through the season — when we had the break, I challenged them to be our best players. And they absolutely responded, with their leadership and taking control, they definitely had a positive effect on the team,” Flory said. “They also inspired the other guys to do their best as well. Generally, in team sports, it’s leadership that brings you success, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The success the Huskies found this season seems to be a combination of hard work and commitment from the players paired with good, consistent coaching and an all-around well-tempered team. Although the season was cut shorter than the team would have liked, it was was definitely one to remember — and one that will hopefully serve as a benchmark for the team in years to come.
Photo: David Moll / Supplied