Hamilton Hurricanes storming to playoffs

When the Hamilton beat the eight-time defending Ontario Football Conference Champion St. Leonard Cougars 23-16 in Week 5, everyone called the Hurricanes lucky. And when the Canes went to London and defeated the winless Beefeaters, 36-6, everyone said it’s only London.

Many of those doubters were silenced on Saturday (Sept. 27) when the first place (5-1) Windsor AKO Fratmen fell 34-14 to the surging Hurricanes at Ivor Wynne Stadium for Hamilton’s third straight win.

Similar to the win over the Cougars, Saturday’s score was much more flattering than the game itself. Both Windsor touchdowns came on broken plays with defensive breakdowns late in the game. The ‘Canes also had two touchdowns called back. Windsor didn’t show any spark until the third quarter when Hamilton had built a 24-0 lead.

The victory also assured Hamilton of a spot in post-season play – not such a bad way to mark the team’s return to the OFC.

When Head Coach Hayes was hired about one year ago he told the ‘Canes executives that he had a three-year plan to develop the team into a top championship contender. He may have to revisit his drawing board as Hamilton goes after its fourth win on Oct. 11 at Ivor Wynne. Kickoff is 4 p.m. Hamilton has a bye this weekend.

Saturday, quarterback Brian Echlin had another great outing, throwing for 200 yards and three touchdowns. Windsor opted to give receiver receiver Mike DiCroce major coverage, likely because if his incredible game last week. But that left receiver Steve Hughes with single coverage for most of the game and he and Echlin took advantage. Hughes had six catches for 103 yards and two touchdowns.

With the extra coverage, DiCroce was held to just one catch for 5 yards – that one catch, however, was a touchdown. Running back Adrian Lewis had a strong game with 19 carries for 147 yards.

On defence, Aram Eisho was once again the leading player from either team statistically. Although the defence made a couple mistakes that led to the Windsor touchdowns (50 and 74 yards), they were absolutely incredible the rest of the day.

Going into that last regular season game, several Hurricanes will be challenging some statistical records. Hughes needs four catches to set a club record for receptions in a season.

That is mark is currently held by McMaster University Marauders’ receivers coach, Al Annonech (45 receptions). Hughes also needs two touchdown catches to set the club record for scoring catches in a season, 11, currently held by Keith Anderson.

Linebacker Aram Eisho will need a big game next week to set the club defensive points record. He has 150 defensive points on the season. The team record is 191 by Ron Zammit. So, Aram will need 42 points in the final game to set the record. Coincidentally, Eisho’s jersey number – 42.

From a business point of view, the club learned that it can finish no better than fourth place and will have to go on the road throughout the provincial playoffs. This will mean road expenses (buses, hotels, and meals) to possibly Windsor and Montreal. The club is looking for any quick fundraising plans to offset those major financial costs.