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Varsity Grenadiers resume play after pesky bye week

July 11, 2014

By CLAUDE SCILLEY

Summer vacations are fine, Warren Goldie says. They’re just not meant for football players.

“Hate it,” Goldie, offensive co-ordinator of the varsity Kingston Grenadiers, said after practice Thursday night when asked what he thought of having a mid-season break in the schedule.

The Grenadiers are coming off a bye week in their Ontario Varsity Football League campaign. They’ll end a two-week hiatus Saturday afternoon against the Oshawa Hawkeyes at Loyalist Collegiate.

“Football is a sport where it’s a short, condensed season and you play and you play and you play,” Goldie said. “When you give kids a week off, it’s like the season ended. It’s not even rust. It’s just like it’s over.

“When you give them time off, they take it.”

Goldie still has nightmares about 2008, when he was the offensive co-ordinator of a Queen’s Golden Gaels team that was undefeated in the regular season, earned a first-round bye, and then was beaten in the semifinals the following week by Ottawa.

“We thought the time off would be good because of injuries,” Goldie said. “It just wasn’t. Every kid dropped a level instead of going ahead. We didn’t play anywhere near the level we played the weeks before.”

The Grenadiers, 4-2 and winners of three of their last four games, have not played since beating York-Simcoe 42-0 June 28. In the time since players Dylan Bell and Cam Hebert have recovered from injuries to the point where they can return to the lineup but that’s still not enough to make Goldie fall in love with the bye.

“I never worry about injuries, because that’s adversity, and adversity builds champions,” he said. “At first when kids miss practice and you have injuries it means kids have to learn other positions and it helps you down the road.

“(At this point) it’s difficult because you’ve started to meld together as a unit and now new pieces come out. We welcome them back because they’re talented kids but now you’ve got to find out where they fit.”

To help his players rediscover the competitive edge, Goldie ran the Grenadiers through a grueling exercise at the end of practice Thursday night.

“It was in part because we play a team that we think we should walk over, on paper,” he said of the Hawkeyes, 2-5 and the last-place team in the Wettges East division, “and you want to make sure that they go into (the game) for the right reasons, to get better as a team instead of just trying to beat your opponent.

“Also,” he said, “it’s to keep their minds focused on the fact it’s going to take effort to win.”

The Hawkeyes’ two wins have come against Markham and York-Simcoe, two teams the Grenadiers defeated handily. The other common opponents are Ottawa and Cornwall — they both lost to each — as well as Pickering and Cumberland, two teams that Kingston beat but against which Oshawa lost.

After giving up 51 points in their season-opening loss to Ottawa, the Grens have allowed just 39 points in five games, during which time the defence has scored four touchdowns of its own.

Oshawa, meanwhile, has struggled to score, with just 61 points in five games before exploding for 42 last week against Markham, a team that has allowed an average of more than 50 points per game.

Saturday afternoon’s varsity contest, scheduled for a 3:30 start, will be the third game of a tripleheader with Oshawa that will start with a bantam match at 11 a.m. The bantam Grenadiers are 3-3 after having won their last three games in a row, most recently 22-20 over the Toronto Thunder last weekend. The bantam Hawkeyes are 1-5, having given up 206 points in their last three games.

The junior varsity Grenadiers, 2-4, will play at 1 o’clock. They’re coming off a 43-7 defeat against Toronto  last week, a game that, thanks to turnovers and big plays, they found themselves trailing 21-0 after six minutes. They’ll be hosting an Oshawa club that is 0-6 and has scored just 15 points all season.

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