At the beginning of the 1987 season, there were 29 teams across five different Conferences in the CJFL.
Incredibly of those 29 teams, seven of them finished with just one loss. It showed just how well balanced the CJFL was in the “Year of the Rabbit.”
The road to the Canadian Bowl started with the Conference winners, who were:
BCFC – Okanagan Sun
PFC – Regina Rams
MJFC – St. Vital Mustangs
OFC – Windsor AKO Fratmen
QMJFC – North Shore Broncos
To determine the final two teams to play for national gold, three Inter-Conference playoff games need to be played. The Rams were the first team to punch their ticket to the Canadian Bowl, which they would host after a 45-23 win over the Sun.
Meanwhile the Ontario champion Fratmen disposed of the Quebec champion Broncos 24-6, but then were pounded by the Manitoba champion Mustangs 52-14. That victory advanced the Mustangs to face the Rams in the national championship game.
In 1987 the CJFL trophy was called the Armadale Cup, which was played in Regina on November 15th in front of 7,492 screaming fans. The Rams made sure they would continue to scream with a 31-23 victory to claim the national title on home soil. It was the Rams second straight championship and fourth of the decade.
The night before the big game the CJFL handed out some hardware at the Banquet of Champions. David Wheeler of the Winnipeg Hawkeyes was named the Offensive Player of the Year while Ian Gordon of Victoria Payless was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Off the field in 1987, Three Men and a Baby was the top grossing movie at the box office collecting $167,780,960. It starred Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg. Meanwhile The Bangles, Walk Like an Egyptian was at the top of the Billboard Charts. Speaking of music, U2 released Joshua Tree while Michael Jackson released “Bad” and Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
In the 75th Grey Cup in Vancouver, Edmonton scored 17-fourth quarter points and beat Toronto 38-36. As a matter of fact the City of Edmonton celebrated another sports championship in ‘87 when the Oilers beat the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games to win the Stanley Cup. Down south the New York Giants took down the Denver Broncos 39-20 in Super Bowl 21.
Finally, there was an animated television showed that made its debut as a short on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, and you may recognize this show as it still airs new episodes here in 2020; The Simpsons.
That was the year of 1987!
One of the most memorable Canadian Bowl games in the 2000’s came in Nanaimo, BC in 2006 when the VI Raiders hoisted their first national title with an exciting 27-26 final beating the Edmonton Wildcats.
The game was played on Remembrance Day in front of 2600 fans, mostly cheering for the BC Conference champion Raiders. These fans were used to seeing the Raiders win after finishing the regular season 10-0 that season and breezing through the playoffs.
That said the Wildcats were no stranger to winning either, finishing the regular season 8-0, dumping the Regina Thunder and Edmonton Huskies in the Prairie Conference playoffs, then dismantling the St. Leonard Cougars 52-13 in the national semi-final game.
In the Canadian Bowl the Raiders led 10-3 after the first quarter, then 17-13 at the half as the game went back and forth. In the third quarter the teams traded touchdowns setting up a thrilling fourth quarter. The Wildcats outscored the Raiders in the final frame, but a short field goal off the foot of kicker Scott Dixon for the home side would seal the victory.
The game featured two tremendous offensive threats. Future CFLer Andrew Harris led the Raiders with 52 yards on the ground on four carries and had four receptions for 81 yards and a touchdown. But it was on special teams that gave us a preview of his CFL potential returning three kicks for 113 yards including a 90 yard return for a touchdown. Ricky Clarke also caught three passes for 42 yards and a score.
Quarterback Tyler Kerpan threw both touchdowns and completed 11 passes overall for 225 yards.
Over on the defence Lucas Desmet had a game high 10 tackles, the only player to hit the double-digit plateau.
For the Wildcats their offensive punch came from running back Tristan Jones who was yard for yard with Harris. He carried the rock an incredible 30 times for 173 yards and a touchdown. He also came out of the backfield for three receptions and another 36 yards.
Meanwhile quarterback Brandan Maher finished with 15 completions, 186 yards and threw a 21 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Kehr. He also found Kevin Wuthrich four times for 44 yards and Mike Whattam three more times for 47 yards. Kicker Ryan Elaschuk was a perfect 4-4 in field goals.
Defensively Wildcat Jean-Marc Jones had the game’s lone turnover, intercepting a pass.
For the Raiders it was the beginning of dominance in the BC Conference that saw them win three Canadian Bowl titles in four seasons. They would go on the road to beat the Burlington Braves in 2008, 35-8 and again the Wildcats in Nanaimo in 2009, 51-14 behind another stellar performance by Harris in his final CJFL season. The only year in this run the Raiders did not complete for the Canadian Bowl was in 2007 when they lost to the Cougars in the national semi-final 27-24.
Most experts around the CJFL agree the 2006 Canadian Bowl was a Classic.
It’s a CJFL Way Back Wednesday! Each week we will dial it back and look at the highlights both on and off the field from the year.
The CJFL was five Conferences strong in ‘92 featuring the BC Conference (BCFC), Prairie Conference (PFC), Manitoba Junior Conference (MJFC), Ontario Conference (OFC) and the Quebec Major Junior Conference (QMJFC).
The road to the Canadian Bowl started with the Conference winners:
BCFC – Surrey Rams
PFC – Regina Rams
MJFC – St. Vital Mustangs
OFC – Ottawa Sooners
QMJFC – West Island Broncos
With five Conferences, three Inter-Conference Finals needed to be played to determine which two teams would battle for the national crown.
In the first game Surrey defeated Regina in a battle of two teams nicknamed the Rams; 21-10 which automatically gave Surrey a berth in the Canadian Bowl.
The Ontario champion Sooners beat the Quebec champion Broncos 34-10, then went onto stomp the Manitoba champion Mustangs 39-6 to set up a date with the Rams for the national title.
The Sooners continued to roll and smacked the Rams 35-18 in Ottawa in front of 3700 fans to win their fifth Canadian Bowl championship since 1908.
Rams’ head coach Nick Kawaza was named the Gordon Currie CJFL Coach of the Year, while Jermaine Haley of the Rams won the Defensive Player of the Year award. Simon Beckow of Victoria Payless was named the Offensive Player of the Year.
Off the field, 1992 was a leap year, Brian Mulroney was the Canadian Prime Minister and Batman Returns raked in $162,831,698 as the top grossing movie of the year. Boyz II Men took home the song of the year with End of the Road.
Meanwhile the Toronto Blue Jays won their first of two World Series getting past the Atlanta Braves and the Calgary Stampeders captured the Grey Cup with a 24-10 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Believe it or not, it was the first Stamps Grey Cup win in 21 years.
That was the year of 1992!