Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Quinte Skyhawks head coach Warren Goldie is looking at more than the final scores during his club’s inaugural Canadian Junior Football League season.
Take for instance a 49-0 loss on the road Saturday against the London Beefeaters. The score was closer at halftime as the Skyhawks wrapped up its regular season schedule.
“We limped into that game. I think we had 14 players scratched off the list and we didn’t have a lot of numbers to begin with,” Goldie, the former longtime coach at Queen’s University, said. “For our team to have scrapped and fought like they did to a 16-0 deficit at halftime was fantastic.”
The Skyhawks, which are on a bye this week, concluded its schedule with a 2-6 record. The game in London was typical of many others this season. The offence has struggled and turnovers have been costly, but improvements were once again shown on defence and special teams.
“Across the board on our defence we had a great heroic effort,” Goldie said, noting a lot of players were banged up. “Caleb Belfry, one of our really young defensive ends, was fighting what looked like a charley horse and then maybe separated or dislocated his finger and here he was all upset that he couldn’t get back in the game. You get that sort of grit across the board, you’ve got a chance to go out and do things.
“Everyone on our defence just played good, sound, hard physical football.”
For the team as a whole, Goldie and the rest of the coaching staff just want to see improvement from week to week. An example of a costly play Saturday was a pick-six interception that led to the floodgates opening offensively for London.
“That would be typical for our season, but there’s been so much progress,” Goldie said. “Everything has just gotten a lot better. There’s really good growth this year so we’re happy. Of course everyone wants to see results, the wins on the board, but we told the players this is about growing.”
Goldie points to a 21-7 loss to the Hamilton Hurricanes on Oct. 3 as one that potentially got away. The Skyhawks were down just 13-7 late, but a fumble cost them a scoring opportunity.
“In my own heart I thought if we could go three-and-five this year that would have been a great season for us, just an unbelievable start for the program,” Goldie said. “We went two-and-six with that close one that we lost and obviously we would have loved to have been a lot more competitive against the really good teams, but they’re established, they’re developed, they’re older.”
Quinte did win twice, though, against the GTA Grizzlies to secure a playoff spot in their first season. It will be another tough game against a top team, but certainly a great opportunity for the Skyhawks. They clinched a playoff spot with a 20-12 win over the Grizzlies on Oct. 17 at Loyalist College in Belleville.
“It was good for the players,” Goldie said. “When you fight that hard, you do want to come out the odd time and win a game. As a team we ride the highs and we ride the lows unfortunately and I keep trying to get them to stay neutral.
“All these opportunities are just going to help us down the road.”