It was a tough game to watch for the estimated 1,225 in attendance at Saturday’s Homecoming game, the first football game to be played at Terry Fox Field since the team started playing at Swangard Stadium.
With the exception of the Central Washington Wildcats fans who came in — who were likely unnerved by the sudden temperature drop that Fall has brought only a week in, magnified by the metal bleachers — there wasn’t much to cheer for.
SFU’s offence seemed non-existent, going scoreless in three quarters, and waiting until there was less than six minutes left in the final quarter to put up their only points, a single touchdown. Even then, the extra-point kick was blocked, leaving SFU with a 55–6 loss.
The Athletics department seemed to do a good job filling seats (despite scheduling the game at the same time as a BC Lions game), but the result — their fifth loss on the season, and their 18th straight loss — left much to be desired, to say the least.
“It was great to be up here on campus,” said head coach Kelly Bates. “Everyone just wishes that they would’ve put on a better show for everybody that was here.”
“I think in the greater picture of things, they did a really good job of homecoming. It was awesome to have so many people come out, and in the future that’s the kind of culture we’re trying to establish,” said running back Ante Litre. “As far as the game goes, it’s a tough one.”
There were few, if any, victories to be found in this one. SFU started on offence, but was unable to achieve even a first down in their first five drives.
Central Washington, on the other hand, was startlingly effective in their first few drives. Their first attempt on the offensive side of the ball was a successful 53 yard pass for a touchdown. Afterwards, the two-point conversion attempt failed as SFU’s Ben Minaker intercepted the ball. 6–0 Wildcats.
On their next drive, Central Washington’s Jesse Zalk ran it in 56 yards on the punt return for their second of seven touchdowns. Needless to say, they went with the extra point kick. They ended the quarter up 20–0, and add 14 points in both the second and third quarter.
Throughout the game, quarterback Miles Richardson did not seem to have much protection, and was often forced to scramble and made some questionable passes, though he did not throw a single interception. He threw for only 99 yards, and was sacked four times.
SFU’s only respite came in the fourth quarter when running back Jalen Jana ran 36 yards for SFU’s only touchdown. The team’s defence, despite letting 55 points, did have flashes of goodness, holding the Wildcats to only one touchdown in the quarter.
“It’s a maturing process. It’s going to take a long time. We have to be great teachers, we have to be patient with our kids.”
“I was really proud of the whole team because they didn’t quit at all, and we saw that in the fourth quarter when there was no chance of coming back,” said Litre, who played his first game after missing two weeks with a leg injury.
It wasn’t until deep in the fourth quarter that SFU’s offence was able to muster up anything, when Central Washington was undoubtedly giving a lesser effort, having put their backup quarterback in.
Heck, even SFU switched quarterbacks giving Richardson a rest. At the end of the third quarter, backup Mihai Lapuste went in, going seven for nine on passes, making 98 yards.
Unlike the Clan’s 21–21 fourth quarter against Azusa two weeks ago, this didn’t feel like something to build on so much as the exception to an otherwise just bad game.
However, it’s the one positive we can take out of this one.
“I think we’ll be able to pull something together, because there’s a lot of heart on this team. There’s glimpses all throughout the game. If we go back and watch the tape, we just got to figure out a way to put it all together,” said Litre, who put up 23 rushing yards.
The biggest problem is that the team is so young. Out of 72 players listed on the roster sheet, 36 players are listed as being in their first year of playing, and only six are listed as having redshirted previously — meaning that the vast majority of those are straight out high school. In an ideal scenario, a team would redshirt most of the players from high school, giving them time to adjust. There appears to be only two players currently redshirting, and one of them is because of injury.
“I understand why it’s happening, we all as a group — the men in that room — understand why it’s happening,” said Bates. “These are the trials and tribulations that we will face and so the process starts to take over. Like I said many times, it’s a two- to four-year process. It’s not fair to the seniors that are in there right now, I understand that, but their legacy will be the attitude that they leave this program.
“It’s a maturing process. It’s going to take a long time. We have to be great teachers, we have to be patient with our kids, and we have to create a positive atmosphere that allows them to grow. And it’s going to take time. That’s the bottom line, you’re not going to get results overnight.”
It’s going to be tough, both for the team and the fans. And the marketing department I imagine — it’s tough to sell a team that hasn’t won since 2014 and that’s best game this year was a 32 point loss.
But for now, all we can do is trust the process.
NEXT SATURDAY: SFU goes on the road to take on the Western Oregon Wolves in Monmouth, OR at 1 pm.
Western Oregon holds the second-worst overall record in the GNAC, going 2–3, but are 1–2 in GNAC competition, tied with Humboldt State. The Wolves are coming off a 31–2 loss to Azusa Pacific, in which they somehow managed to put up 424 yards of offence without achieving a single touchdown or field goal.
Wolves’ wide receiver Paul Revis leads the GNAC in all-purpose yards with 164.4 per game, as well as in receptions per game (6.2), and in punt return average (22.2 yards).