Photo courtesy of _nixbphotos
The Hamilton Hurricanes are the defending Ontario Conference champs following a perfect regular season in 2018. Their only loss came in the CJFL National Semi-Final game in Langley, BC.
Their offence was extremely potent scoring 42.5 points a game while their defence allowed just seven. In the Ontario Conference post season the Hurricanes outscored their opposition 77-23 in their two wins.
The most noticeable change for the Hurricanes is on top as long-time head coach Jason Hayes stepped down. In 11 seasons with him at the helm the Hurricanes never missed the playoffs, won four Ontario titles and he was named Coach of the Year three times. He amassed a record of 80-30 and is second all-time in wins in Ontario and sixth all-time in CJFL history. Brian Duguay slides into the vacant position and will have big shoes to fill. He’s no stranger to the Hurricanes having been involved for many years.
QB Jake Marquette could be the biggest loss to any team across the CJFL. Last season he was named the CJFL Outstanding Offensive Player after an incredible campaign completing 67% of his passes for 1760 yards and 28 touchdowns.
WR Angus Button was one of Marquette’s favourite targets and one of the most dangerous in 2018. He hauled in 25 receptions for 543 yards and scored eight touchdowns.
OL Kyle Maertens was an absolute force on the line last season. He was named the Conference’s most Outstanding Offensive Lineman and was one of the reasons why Marquette was able to stay in the pocket and survey the field looking for the best option.
What They Need:
Following the graduation of the best offensive player in the CJFL, the Hurricanes are in need of a quarterback. They will hand the starting role over to Ethan Belbeck who was last year’s back-up, learning from Marquette. They are expecting big things from him and are hopeful their offence doesn’t miss much of a beat.
WR Keyshaun Jordan is the reigning CJFL Rookie of the Year and the Hurricanes will look for even more from the sophomore. Last season he made 33 receptions for 753 yards and caught 15 touchdown passes, leading all Ontario receivers.
QB Ethan Belbeck didn’t play much last year backing up Marquette. He is expected to win the starting position coming out of camp and will try and fill up the stats sheet like Marquette before him.
OL James Sides will be counted on to hold the pocket and give Belbeck time to throw the ball down the field.
The Hurricanes will open their title defence on August 17th when they welcome the Ottawa Sooners to Tim Hortons Field.
The Winnipeg Rifles again last season finished fourth in the Prairie Conference and were forced to travel to Saskatoon to face the Hilltops in a post season semi-final.
Overall the Rifles finished 3-5 despite only scoring an average of 19.7 points a game. With another year of experience under their belt the Rifles are looking for bigger things here in 2019. They will open the season against the five-time champion Hilltops on August 18th at home.
DB Andrew Ricard departs after an outstanding season last year with 23 tackles, two fumble recoveries and four interceptions.
LB Donovan Hillary was a beast for the Rifles last season. He had a team high 31 tackles along with a sack and a half, forced a fumble and recovered one for a touchdown.
OL Brody Jones will be a big loss for the Rifles on the offensive line in a Conference that prides itself on a running attack.
What They Need:
The Rifles would like to see more depth at the quarterback position. They really like their starter Riley Naujoks however a viable back-up is something they are searching for when camp rolls around. Head coach Geordie Wilson believes this is the best team they have had with real competition at every position.
QB Riley Naujoks: With another year of experience the Rifles are hoping for big things from their pivot. Last season he threw for 667 yards on 53 competitions and had seven touchdowns.
LB Cole Sneesby: He attended the Winnipeg Blue Bombers camp and collected a defensive tackle in a pre-season game against the Edmonton Eskimos. Last year he had 23 tackles, a sack and a half and recovered a fumble.
DB Troy Wilson: He also attended Bomber camp and dressed from the pre-season game against the Eskimos. He finished with a defensive tackle. Last year with the Rifles he played in all eight games, made nine tackles, had a sack and forced a fumble.
RB Brandon Urcioluli: He was part of the Bombers’ camp as well and got two carries during the pre-season game with the Esks. During the regular campaign last year he carried 54 times for 267 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
The Rifles have trained hard all winter, had a great spring camp and knocked off Augsburg College; a NCAA Division 3 school in a spring tune up game. They embrace the opportunity to open the season against the five-time National Champion Saskatoon Hilltops August 18. They respect them, but they do not fear them and will be ready and prepared.
Photo courtesy of the London Beefeaters
Last season the London Beefeaters had a solid campaign finishing third with a 5-3 record and amassed three shutouts in the Ontario Conference.
Quarterback Clarke McCallum showed tremendous growth completing 91 passes for 1275 yards and seven touchdowns. His top two targets were Cody Young and Spencer Foster who combined for 43 receptions 545 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Due to the Beefeaters success head coach Chris Marshall has been given an opportunity to coach at Western University in U-Sports. The move opens the door for a number of other opportunities and the Beefs are hoping they pay off.
Following the departure of Coach Marshall, London native Jesse Maddox becomes the new head coach. For the past 11 years Maddox has been coaching football in Alberta and has just recently moved back to Ontario. In Alberta he coached the Fort McMurray Monarchs to their second Canadian Major Football League title in 2018. He also coached the Fort McMurray Ravens midget team, and was guest coach with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and at a number of high school camps.
This season the Beefeaters will wear red jerseys, adding a strong bold clean cut and clear statement of how they would like to look on the field.
They are also changing the culture and vision. They will showcase a strong attention to on and off the field environments and the direction of the Board and Coach Maddox. They are looking to create a fun and very competitive environment for their players on and off the field to be successful in the pursuit of their goals/aspirations of school, work and football.
LB Oscar Reddecop was the Beeefeaters best defender last season and was named an Ontario Conference All-Star. He tallied at team high 28 solo tackles and was a nuisance in the opposition’s backfield adding pressure more often than not and recorded a pair of sacks, had a blocked kick and recovered a fumble.
DL Brendan Hepburn was named an Ontario Conference All-Star following an outstanding season. He led the Beefeaters with four sacks to complement his 14 tackles, one blocked kick and two forced fumbles.
OL Austin Lowe was a rock on the offensive line and was named an Ontario Conference All-Star. He was one of the main reasons for the success of quarterback Clarke McCallum
What They Need:
The Beefeaters need to bulk up their defensive ends. Players with experience at this position are hard to come by much like on the offensive line. Currently they have a great crop of players but time will tell where they stand making the jump from high school to the CJFL.
QBs Clarke McCallum and Jake Pow: McCallum returns for his third season while Pow enters his first in the CJFL after earning a roster spot with the Western Mustangs for the previous two seasons. They are super excited to have two starting calibre leaders under center coming into the year and are looking forward to seeing what both can do starting against the Niagara Regional Raiders in their opener on August 18th.
OL Matt Bettencourt started on the offensive line at Western in 2017 and won a Vanier Cup. He is a big, strong, nasty and someone every team wants protecting their quarterback. The Beefeaters believe he is the best offensive lineman in the country at this level, and are excited to have him be a leader up front.
DB Jacob Mandel has come to London via the GTA Grizzlies last year. He was named an Ontario Conference All-Star after leading the Grizz with 29 tackles, while adding two knockdowns, two forced fumbles and three interceptions.
As the Beefeaters prepare for the 2019 season they have had a huge influx of new players in the last 2-3 months seeing 50-60 new players on top of 30 plus veterans returning. They are very much looking forward to changing this program around and too hit the ground running. Underdog mentality!