Like many, Shawn Lal experienced changes during the pandemic.
The 6-foot-6 quarterback from Abbotsford, B.C., joined the Guelph Gryphons, became their starter and also developed a funky delivery for his passes.
“I’ve been doing it since the pandemic,” he said Saturday evening at Alumni Stadium after the seventh-ranked Gryphons knocked off the top-ranked Western Mustangs 23-21 in OUA football play. “It just feels more natural and just gives me a quicker release. I’ll have to change it sooner or later.”
Lal’s delivery is a bit of a sidearm throw. He doesn’t reach too far back and he doesn’t hold on to the ball for long in his delivery.
“It is something new,” he said. “I’m trying to be a rotational thrower.”
He completed 14 of 28 pass attempts for 185 yards and a touchdown in the win.
“At first I was pretty nervous, I’m not going to lie,” Lal said. “I had to just go in there and get the nerves out by just taking hits and stuff like that. It’s pretty surreal at the moment, to be honest.”
Lal joined the Gryphons after a couple of seasons in the British Columbia Conference of the Canadian Junior Football League. In 2019 he was the conference’s top passer as he completed 51 per cent of his passes for 2,561 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Westshore Rebels. That came a season after he saw limited action with the Langley Rams.
“This is way different, way faster,” Lal said in comparing the OUA league the B.C. junior loop. “Beforehand you could just get a fast guy and chuck it up. Here you actually have to go through your progressions and make sure because everyone is good here.”
Kiondre Smith caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Lal while Deandre Rose, who came in as quarterback in plays near the Western end zone, ran in on a two-yard play. All the other points for Guelph came off the boot of Eric Stranz as he kicked three field goals (a 25-yarder and two from 45 yards) and two converts.
While the Gryphons had some success with the aerial game, the ground game was kept in check by Western.
“It’s just repetition,” Lal said of the key to get the running game going. “Obviously we have to do better throwing the ball to open that up then it’ll just take care of itself.
“We can get the job done, it’s just going to take some time.”
Next up for the Gryphs is a game against the Windsor Lancers at Windsor next Saturday.