The Hamilton Wildcats got their Ontario Australian Football League 2011 season off to a positive start while maintaining their mastery over the Toronto Rebels.
Having beaten the Rebels in the last two encounters last season, the Wildcats were looking to put a third notch in their gun belts. And did they ever. By the time the dust had settled to launch the OAFL campaign, the Wildcats had posted a 118 (17 and 16) to 33 (5 and three) over the Rebels.
Due to permit issues with the City of Toronto, the game was hosted by the Guelph Gargoyles on their home ground, Margaret Greene Park. Since this was technically a road game for both teams, the clubs were looking to win over the Guelph crowd as neither team would have many of its own supporters in tow.
From the opening bounce, it was evident that all the hard yards the Wildcats have put in during the off-season had paid off. Every aspect of the ‘Cats attack seemed to be firing on all cylinders, despite the Rebels kicking the game’s first goal. Hamilton replied with a bang, as 6’5″, 320lb rookie full forward Stephen “Banga” Dostal quickly showed why the goal square is where he truly belongs. He snagged a great pass from Nick DiRago to pull the Yellow and Black even with the Rebels.
After putting a bite into the doughnut on the scoreboard, the flood gates quickly opened for Hamilton, as veterans Justin Johns and Mark Krikke, rookie Brendan Major and forward flank DiRago each added goals to put the Wildcats up by four goals as the opening quarter came to close.
After a brief scare to start the second quarter – the Rebels opened with two quick goals – Hamilton coach Matt lowry made a few quick changes on field, and the ‘Cats regained their composure. Blessed with a full compliment of players for Round 1, Hamilton used its reserves very astutely, giving all 24 dressed a chance to play in a couple different positions throughout the course of the game.
It was great to see many of the club’s rookies have a crack, and really take what they’ve learned over the winter at training sessions and apply it so well in game action. First-year players Justin Hyde, Gary “MCG” Hessmer, Alex Pawliwec and Dostal definitely did not seem out of place one bit, and look to be incredible additions to the Wildcats.
As the final siren sounded and Hamilton ran out winners, third-year player Kris McKillop earned “Hardhat” (Hardest Working Player) honours for his incredible efforts in the guts, while third-year Aussie Michael “Vissa” Visser took home the BOG (Best on Ground) for his performance in both ends of the oval and for keeping the Rebels big scorers at bay in Round #1.
Scoring for Hamilton were: Johns (3), Dostal (2), Visser (2), DiRago (2), B. Major (2), C. Thompson (1), B. Aiken (1), Krikke (1), E. DeBruin (1), P. Lawson (1), L. Lombardini (1)
The Wildcats will go after win No. 2 on Saturday (May 14) with the Etobicoke Kangaroos providing the opposition in a 9:30 a.m. start at Guelph’s Margaret Greene Park.
For more details on the Hamilton Wildcats AFC, visit http://www.hamiltonwildcatsafc.com/