‘Canes cap season with national awards

Last week, the Vancouver Island Raiders defeated the Burlington Braves 35-8 to win the 2008 Canadian Bowl in Burlington.

During the weekend festivities, the Canadian Junior Football League handed out its hardware. Having done really well at the Ontario Conference level, several Hurricanes were up for their respective national awards.

The CJFL hands out five major awards every year – Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Executive of the Year. Three finalists in each category represent the conferences – Ontario, B.C., and the Prairies. And for the first time in CJFL history, one team had a finalist in every one of the five categories – the Hamilton Hurricanes.

Never before in the long history of the league has a team won more than two of the “Big Five” awards … that was until the Hurricanes came back this season. The Hurricanes became the first team to take home three of the five national honours.

The ‘Canes were also one of only six teams in Canada with multiple All-Canadian All-Star Selections.

Linebacker Aram Eisho who dominated the CJFL on defence this season was a unanimous selection (11 votes) as the country’s top defensive player.

Eisho was also awarded one of the 27 prestigious All Canadian Spots as the country’s top linebacker. This is in addition to the Ontario defensive player of the year and All Conference awards that he won a few weeks ago. Aram is the third Hurricane to ever win the CJFL Defensive Player of the Year trophy. Ron Zammit won it in 1981 and Larry Farrauto too it in 1988.

Receiver Steve Hughes, who was Ontario All Conference All-star and Ontario Offensive Player of the Year, received one of the All Canadian All-star spots. Hughes did not win the Canadian Offensive Player of the Year, however, That honour went to Winnipeg Rifles quarterback Khaleal Williams. Present Head Coach Jason Hayes remains the only Hamilton Hurricane (1993) to ever win the country’s top Offensive Player award.

Quarterback Brian Echlin, who was somehow bypassed for the Conference all star team even though he led the OFC in every major statistical category, was named the nation’s Rookie of the Year. Echlin was also awarded the Ontario Rookie of the year award a few weeks ago. He won the voting 10-1-0 over his opponents from the Western conferences and becomes the first Hurricane to ever win the Canadian Rookie of the Year award.

Hayes, winner of the Ontario Coach of the Year award in a unanimous vote, finished second in the national voting 6-5-0 for Canadian Coach of the Year. Calgary’s Keith Kendall won the award. A Hurricanes coach has never won the National honour.

And in the final major award, yours truly was awarded the CJFL Executive of the Year as president of the Hurricanes.

So, with the season now done, the club’s concentration turns to fundraising and recruiting.

At this time, the ‘Canes would like to thank all of its sponsors and volunteers who assisted in many different ways.

And, on a final note, the Hurricanes would like to thank and congratulate Richard Wood (our ONLY graduate) on a great season … Welcome to the alumni club.