Following a 14-year absence from the Ontario Football Conference, the Hamilton Hurricanes made an emotional return to the gridiron on Saturday night. And they made their debut against the No. 1 ranked team in the country, and last year’s Canadian Bowl finalists, the St. Leonard Cougars.
While it may not have been a successful return on on the scoreboard – the Hurricanes fell 27-19 – for team president Brian Copeland and treasurer Mike Samuel along with coaches Scott Campbell, Harold Harris and head coach Jason Hayes, it was a night they will probably never forget as their ‘Canes had finally returned.
Hamilton lit the board first, just five minutes into the game with a beautiful fade pass to the back of the end zone from quarterback Chris Johnston to receiver Steven Hughes. Later, Chad Borden picked up a blocked punt for the team’s other major score. Sezar Hasan provided two extra point conversions and a 16-yard field goal on his only attempt.
The Cougars scored three touchdowns of over 50 yards, including an 80-yard pass play and a 79-yard run play. On all three scores, the ‘Canes defence showed its youth and inexperience making small mistakes that turned into major scores. Other than those three critical plays, the Hurricanes defence played a great game against the Cougars outstanding offence.
The Hurricanes are a very young group. For their trip to Montreal, the team carried only four players who are in their final year of eligibility. The majority of the team are 19 and 20 and several have recently graduated from the local Ontario Varsity Football League clubs – the Niagara Spears, Steel City Ironmen and Brantford Bisons.
After the game, the Cougars personnel commended Coach Hayes’ ability to get 45 rookies ready to go on the road and play the champs in their house. Cougars’ coach Tony Iadeluca said it was the best contest anyone has given the Cougars at home in 10 years. The Cougars’ coaches also saluted the entire ‘Canes coaching staff, calling them an outstanding group that were well prepared to play.
Not too bad for a team with only nine workouts to prepare for this major contest due to a late scheduling change.
This week, the Hurricanes will revive one of the league’s biggest rivalries when they travel to Burlington to play the Braves. Game time at Nelson Stadium will be 7p.m. on Friday night (Aug. 15). The team hopes that as many former Hurricanes as possible can attend the game cheer on this new team.
|Ontario Football Conference Players of the Week
Outstanding Defensive Player
Aram led all OFC defenders on opening day with 21 defensive points in the Hurricanes hard fought 27-19 loss to the St Leonard Cougars. He was credited with 7 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles and a blocked kick.
Outstanding Special Team Player
Robin led the OFC on special teams returning 6 punts in the Braves 50-0 victory over the London Beefeaters. His returns accounted for 224 yards, the longest a 122 yarder for a TD. As a receiver he caught 6 passes for another 165 yards and 2 more touchdowns.
Outstanding Offensive Player
Beni led the Cougars in the season opener to a hard fought 27-19 victory over the visiting Hamilton Hurricanes. He carried the ball 15 times for a whopping 197 yards. His longest romp was 79 yards. With a 13.1 yards per carry the St Leonard runner scored two touchdowns.