A pair of familiar foes will meet again on Sunday in the Ontario Conference championship game.
The Windsor AKO Fratmen and the Hamilton Hurricanes will battle for the fifth time in the last seven seasons with the winner hosting the 110th Canadian Bowl. Oddly enough the last time the CJFL title game was in Ontario was in 2011 and it was the Hurricanes who hosted after their Conference win over the Fratmen.
For the most part these two teams know each other inside and out. Yes the personnel on the field has change and the athletes are different, but the one consent is at the head coaching role.
Mike LaChance has led the Fratmen for the past 14 seasons.
Since his first year the Fratmen have missed the playoffs just once. His CJFL playoff record is 13-9 overall with three Ontario Conference titles.
On the other side of the field Hurricanes head coach Jason Hayes is in his 10th season at the helm. Since he took over in 2008 the Hurricanes have won three Ontario Conference championships in six appearances, including last year’s win over Windsor. His overall CJFL playoff record is 9-8 and he will make his seventh trip to the Conference title game this season.
It is rare to see coaches in the CJFL at the helm for as long LaChance and Hayes have done it. The only tenure of a coach longer than either of these two is Tom Sargeant of the Saskatoon Hilltops.
If you ask any player in Windsor or Hamilton from the past or in the present they will more than likely tell you coaching was a majority determining factor on where they decided to play. Success on the field aside, it starts with the head coach.
When one looks across the CJFL, it appears longevity is the recipe for success and if one doesn’t believe that to be true just take a look at the Fratmen and Hurricanes sidelines on Sunday. One of these coaches will lead their team to victory and will represent the Ontario Conference in the Canadian Bowl and though they may never admit it, they will be happy for their counterpart.
Kick-off of the Ontario Conference title game is set for 2:00pm at Windsor’s Alumni Field.