Another porous football season came to a close as the Warriors dropped their season finale 43-15 to the Carleton Ravens on Oct. 22, finishing the campaign with a disappointing 0-8 record.
After what was being called a rebuilding season in 2015, Waterloo had greater expectations heading into this year with second year head coach Chris Bertoia at the helm. The Carleton loss means Bertoia is going to have to wait almost a full calendar year to try to claim that first victory with the Warriors.
Bertoia’s goal was to be more competitive this season. Before a Sept. 17 showdown with McMaster, Bertoia was quoted saying, “Closing the gap in the scores is definitely going to help people understand, yes, we are making progress.”
The second half of the season was far more competitive than the first three games, but the Warriors were never close to victory. After losing their opening three matches by an average of 56 points a game, the Warriors lost their final five fixtures by 38 points per game.
Waterloo scored a measly 77 points this season, by far the worst in the league. Toronto was second-to-last with 155 points.
Three different quarterbacks played for the Warriors against Carleton and the group as a whole found success against the Ravens secondary.
Quarterback Lucas McConnell passed for 129 yards and AJ Stewart added 59 yards and a touchdown to receiver Richmond Nketiah.
As has been the Warriors problem all season, Waterloo struggled to get anything going on the ground as McConnell and Dion Pellerin co-led the team with 18 yards rushing each. The Warriors were bottom of the OUA in rushing this year, averaging only 87 yards per game.
There was much excitement when McConnell signed on to play with the Warriors beginning in the 2014 season. The Warriors have now burned three years of his eligibility and have one win to show for it, a 2014 game against York started by then-quarterback Jamie Cook.
In his two seasons at the helm, McConnell has consistently been one of the most-sacked and hit quarterbacks in the league. Much has been made of his toughness, but he missed some time this season due to an injury suffered in the middle of the season.
For a team that hasn’t won a home game since 2012, the Warriors need to bolster the offensive line to protect McConnell, and took a step towards doing so earlier this month.
Among their 2017 recruits is offensive lineman Riley VanDeHogen, a local native out of St. David Catholic Secondary School and the Twin-City Predators. Listed at 6’7” and 320 lbs, VanDeHogen had interest from over 20 CIS schools and even drew intrigue from NCAA Division I Schools. Ultimately, he decided to stay close to home to try to improve the Warriors blocking woes.
After consecutive 0-8 seasons, the Warriors are going to need a strong offseason if they want to earn their first playoff berth since 2003.