Without passing or kicking a football, the Hamilton Panthers have started their 2010 Ontario Football Conference Varsity season with the announcement of its coaching staffs.
The Senior Varsity Panthers will be led by head coach and former Canadian Football League player Paul Hitchcock. Coach “Hitch” played his high school football in Hamilton with the Glendale Bears. After a successful high school career, Hitchcock went east to play at Acadia University for four years. In 1990, he was drafted by the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
In 2005, Hitchcock was honoured with his selection to the Acadia University all decade team of the 1980s.
After concluding his CFL playing days, he returned to Hamilton and began a successful high school coaching career with Delta and Sir Winston Churchill high schools. In 1996 Paul was appointed the head coach of the Canadian Junior Football League Burlington Braves, holding that position until the 2000 season. Hitchcock currently coaches the highly successful Sir Allan MacNab Senior high school team.
He brings to the Panthers a stellar coaching staff that includes Ron Lancaster Jr., Paul Cook, Paul Masotti, and Canadian Football Hall of Fame legends Ben Zambiazi and Less Browne. Combined, the Panther Senior Varsity coaching staff boasts 14 Grey Cup rings amongst them.
The Panthers enter their second season playing in the OFC Varsity Division as an affiliate team of the CJFL’s Hamilton Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the Junior Varsity Panthers announced that head coach Chris Watson and staff are returning for a third consecutive year of leading the Panther’s.
Coach Watson is a born and bred Panther having begun his football playing career with the Hamilton Wentworth Minor Football Association. Chris showed great promise as a minor football player and continued to impress throughout his minor and high school careers. His level of play and reputation was so highly sought after that Chris transferred to Altoona Area High School in Pennsylvania. That, in turn, opened the door for a four-year National Collegiate Athletic Association scholarship to California University of Pennsylvania where Chris was the starting fullback for four years.
Watson majored in Sports Management while at California University. Watson will lead a Panther team that was a championship finalist in 2009, its first year with the OFC Varsity league.
Rounding out the Varsity Division for the Panthers is first-year Varsity Bantam head coach Dave Kirk.
He played his high school football in Southern Ontario and continued his playing career into the Northern Football Conference playing for the Brampton Bears in the mid ’80s.
Dave began his coaching career seven years ago in the Cambridge area and spent two years in Brantford before finding a new home with the Bantam Panthers. Over the past six years, Kirk has been involved with the Panther association as a coach in the spring program and in 2009 he coached the Panther Peewee White team to the semi finals of the Southwestern Ontario Football Association of Leagues’ playoffs.
With multiple coaching disciplines – hockey, martial arts and football – Kirk brings a new perspective to the Panther program. For the 2010 season, he is looking to build the foundations of a solid bantam program that will carry through the entire Varsity program. With a solid coaching staff and a competitive football program, the Bantam Panthers will set the stage for future success.
The Panther Bantam Program (formally Peewee) enters its second year with the OFC Varsity League.