The year was 2009, the final year of the decade and it started on a Thursday.
As the world prepared for a new decade the CJFL was three Conferences strong with a total of 19 teams, one of which seemed head and shoulders above everyone else.
The BC Conference was led by the dominating VI Raiders with Andrew Harris in the backfield. The Raiders went a perfect 10-0 in the regular season averaging over an incredible 50 points a game and gave up only 10. They would breeze through the playoffs beating the Okanagan Sun 25-16 and the South Surrey Big Kahaua Rams 49-14 to win the right to host the Canadian Bowl.
In the Prairie Conference that season the Saskatoon Hilltops finished first with a 7-1 record with the Edmonton Wildcats right behind them at 6-2. In the playoffs the Hilltops just got past the Regina Thunder 30-24 and the Wildcats beat the Calgary Colts 35-20. The Cats then went on the road and upset the favoured Hilltops in the Conference final 33-20 to win the right to play in the national semi-final game.
Their opponent in that game would be the Ottawa Sooners after they finished in first place with a 6-2 record in the Ontario Conference. The Sooners had the top defence holding teams to just 13 points a game. They would beat the London Beefeaters 24-10 and the St. Leonard Cougars 14-11 in the playoffs to win the Conference and the right to host the Wildcats in the national semi-final game.
The Wildcats defence was stifling in that contest holding the Sooners to just five first downs and 77 yards of total offense. The Cats went onto win 31-3 to set up a rematch of the 2006 Canadian Bowl with the Raiders in Nanaimo.
The night before the Canadian Bowl, Beefeaters head coach Brad Winder was named the CJFL Gordon Currie Coach of the Year, Harris was named the Outstanding Offensive Player of the Year while Aram Eisho of the Hamilton Hurricanes is named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season.
The next day in a classic Nanaimo afternoon in November which included rain throughout the game, the hometown Raiders blasted the Wildcats 51-14 in front of 1900 fans to win their second straight national title and third in four years. At the time the 51 points was the fourth most in Canadian Bowl history. Also at the time Raiders quarterback Jordan Yantz set a new Canadian Bowl record with five touchdown passes.
Off the field in 2009, the United States made history when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President, becoming the first African-American to hold the office. Meanwhile here in Canada Stephen Harper is Prime Minister.
This was also the year of the H1N1 or Swine Flu global pandemic which was deemed a pandemic in June. By September China becomes the first country to discover a vaccine.
In October, Microsoft released Windows 7 and the International Olympic Committee awarded Rio de Janeiro the right to host the 2016 Summer Games.
In sports, the Montreal Alouettes came back to beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders 28-27 on a last second field goal after the Riders were flagged for too many men on the field. Meanwhile in the Super Bowl the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in Tampa Bay. Speaking of Pittsburgh, in the NHL the Penguins get by the Detroit Red Wings in seven games to win the Stanley Cup and in baseball the New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series in six games.
At the box office the world is taken over by Avatar on December 18th which goes onto to become the highest-grossing movie at the time. However in the 2009 calendar year Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the top grossing movie raking in over $400M. In music the Black Eyed Peas finish at the top of the Billboard Chart with Boom Boom Pow.
That was the year of 2009.
One of the most dominating franchises in the Ontario Conference of the CJFL in the early part of the 2000s was the St. Leonard Cougars; the only team in Quebec and they were led by legendary coach Tony Iadeluca Jr.
He coached an even 10 seasons from 1999 – 2008 and the Cougars ruled the Ontario Conference. Under Iadeluca’s tenure the Cougars won eight straight Conference championship titles from 2000 – 2007. That first championship in 2000 was just the Cougars second in franchise history and first in six years.
The Cougars won an incredible 36 consecutive regular season games from 2004 -2008 and Iadeluca was named the CJFL Gordon Currie Coach of the Year twice during that span; 2004 and 2007.
During his time in Montreal, Iadeluca led the Cougars to three Canadian Bowl appearances. In 2002 they played the Saskatoon Hilltops strong losing by just two points 20-18 in front of 700 fans in Montreal. Then in 2005 they lost to the Edmonton Huskies 34-15 in Montreal with 900 fans in the stands, then two years later the Cougars fell 26-3 to the Hilltops in the last CJFL neutral site Canadian Bowl as the game was played in Winnipeg. On route to that 2007 national championship the Cougars beat the VI Raiders in the national semi-final; it’s the last time a team from the Ontario Conference has won a national game.
Over his decade on the sidelines with the Cougars, Iadeluca compiled an impressive overall record of 82-14. Of those 82 wins, 68 were in the regular season which is second most all-time in the Ontario Conference and eighth most in CJFL history.
Following his time in the CJFL, Iadeluca became the head coach at College Andre-Grasset, a Cegep school in Montreal that competes in a College football division 1 in Quebec, part of the RESQ Conference.
With his tremendous record in the Ontario Conference, Tony Iadeluca Jr is without a doubt a "CJFL Legendary Coach."
Photo courtesy of Adam Marchetti
The CJFL running backs week continues.
Scoring a touchdown in the CJFL can bring on several different emotions and in most cases its pure joy. Joy that you’ve put points on the board for your team, the joy of ending a long drive with six points or the joy of teammates huddling in the endzone with celebration on their mind.
Only one running back in the CJFL history has experienced more joy scoring rushing touchdowns in a season than any other back. Andrew Pocrnic, as a member of the Langley Rams in 2019, seemingly scored touchdowns at will and set a new CJFL single regular season record in the process with 26 rushing touchdowns. He averaged two scores each game helping the Rams to a Cullen Cup championship and a berth in the Canadian Bowl.
Pocrnic broke Tristan Jones’ mark of 25 that he had collected in 2006 with the Edmonton Wildcats. The record stood for 13 seasons. Prior to that Jones broke the mark which was held for 15 seasons. The single season rushing touchdown record is clearly not an easy record to break. Pocrnic’s new record of 26 is safe…for now but as they say, “records are meant to be broken.”
The top 5 leaders for rushing touchdowns in a single regular season in the CJFL are as follows:
1 – Andrew Pocrnic – 26 with the Langley Rams in 2019
2 – Tristan Jones – 25 with Edmonton Wildcats in 2006
3 – Andrew Harris – 20 with the VI Raiders in 2009
4 – Richard Boakye – 20 with the St. Hubert Rebelles in 1991
5 – Daryl Beswitherick – 20 with the Winnipeg Hawkeyes in 1989