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.
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!
Photo courtesy of NixBPhotography
Last season the GTA Grizzlies won their final two games and snuck into the CJFL playoffs as the fourth seed in the Ontario Conference.
The regular season finale was an exciting one with a shutout 39-0 victory over the Ottawa Sooners to punch their ticket to the post season. They rushed for an incredible 413 yards on 51 carries and scored four touchdowns on the ground.
They will hope to keep that momentum going into this season despite a changing of the guard at the top. All their home games have been schedule for 1:00pm on Sunday afternoons at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke. They will open the season on the road when they travel to Windsor to face the AKO Fratmen on Saturday August 17th.
The biggest change for the Grizzlies will be at the top after head coach Mike Leonard announced he was stepping down. The Grizzlies have not named a replacement yet but do anticipate naming one soon. The Grizzlies are proud to have a new sponsor in Alterna Savings and will wear brand new away jerseys when playing on the road during the CJFL schedule.
Jacob Mandel was the Grizzlies’ best defensive player in 2018 compiling a team high 29 solo tackles, to compliment his two knockdowns, two forced fumble and three interceptions. He also had a fumble recovery and five assisted tackles.
What They Need:
Like most teams the Grizzlies are in need a quality offensive lineman. They also hope to sign a strong linebacker core to anchor their defence.
WR Isaiah Smalls: The Grizzlies will look for bigger things from Smalls in 2019. He recorded a major on a 38 yard touchdown reception in the final game of the regular season.
DB Isaiah Bonefent: He’s been outstanding on the defensive side during the last two seasons. Last year he made 26 tackles, had a blocked kick, two knockdowns, recovered three fumbles, forced one and had three assisted stops. Now in his third season the Grizzlies are hoping for even more.
LB Mark Straw: One of the areas the Grizzlies are hoping to improve upon this coming season is at the linebacker position. Shaw will be a rookie but the coaching staff is hoping for big things.