Whether you know them as the AKO, the Fratman or the Saints, the Windsor football team has been the perennial powerhouse in the Ontario Conference for several years.
The St. Clair Saints have currently won 29 straight regular season games not having lost since September 7, 2019 in London. Their home winning streak is even longer, not losing a home regular season game since August 18, 2018.
They have built their program on a rich winning tradition with a pair or Mikes the heartbeat of the team. Head Coach Mike LaChance doubles as the team’s offensive coordinator and is the second longest serving head coach in the CJFL, behind only Tom Sargeant of the Saskatoon Hilltops. Mike Morencie is the team’s General Manager and defensive coordinator and was a major driving force in starting a relationship with St. Clair College in Windsor.
On the field the Saints have won back-to-back Conference championships and will be looking for a three-peat in 2024. This upcoming season is particularly important with the Conference winner hosting the Canadian Bowl in November.
The Saints/Fratmen are one of the oldest teams in the CJFL with roots dating back to their first game in 1945. They won their first national crown in 1952 after finishing the season 6-0 and outscoring the opposition 237-26. They would host the game that season and beat the Edmonton Wildcats 15-12 to claim the title.
In their 72-year history they have compiled an eye-popping regular season record of 396-151-14 and have won three national championships along with 24 Conference titles. They are the last team from the Ontario Conference to win the Canadian Bowl, something they will try and duplicate in 2024. The last two seasons they have come within one win of playing in the national championship game.
The franchise has been honoured in the CFL Hall of Fame as well. They became the first CJFL team to be honoured as one of the longest running junior football programs in the country and are featured in the “Museum’s Locker Room” exhibit.
In 2004, the Windsor Essex County Sports Hall of Fame awarded the franchise with a special award recognition becoming one of only nine area teams to be given this honour.
Twenty years later the Saints are preparing for the new CJFL season and will no doubt be one of the favourites in the Ontario Conference this year. With the added excitement of the Canadan Bowl hosted in Ontario, the Saints will no doubt be hyper focused. They last hosted the national championship in 2017 when the Hilltops came to town in a match-up of the two longest serving head coaches in the CJFL, much like last season’s national semi-final in Saskatoon.
The Ontario Conference schedule has yet to be determined for 2024 but when the Saints take to the field in late summer, they will put their 29-game regular season winning streak on the line. That streak maybe important but the Saints have bigger aspirations this upcoming season and that’s to be marching into the Canadian Bowl on November 9, 2024!