The Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) is elated to announce the expansion Quinte Skyhawks will begin play in the Ontario Conference in 2021.
The Skyhawks become the 18th team in the CJFL and sixth in the Ontario Conference.
“My goal and vision has always been to bring next level football to our region, being in a smaller market I wanted to give athletes opportunity to showcase the love they have for football,” says Skyhawks’ President Peter Gabriel. “Joining the CJFL was a natural progression giving athletes the opportunity to continue to play the sport they love after high school. For me it’s about creating opportunities for our youth. The CJFL provides for many athletes that think their football days are behind them, the opportunity to continue to live out their passion and dream of playing football at a higher level. Football is more than a game, it’s a life journey that mentors and guides young men preparing them for the next phase of their lives. That’s the CJFL factor!”
Players of the Skyhawks will not only come from Belleville, but the team plans to draw players and coaches from Kingston to Oshawa to Peterborough. This area of Ontario has an established flag football league, has strong high school programs and an extremely talented bantam league with nine teams in the Quinte Skyhawks Minor Football League.
“It’s a very exciting day for all of us in the CJFL,” says Commissioner Jim Pankovich. “With the cancellation of our 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a welcomed announcement. This shows the CJFL continues to head in the right direction and we believe Peter has the right people in place and the right plan to be a successful franchise for years to come.”
The Skyhawks will play out of Mary Ann Sills Park in Belleville, which is a field turf surface. It is a multi-use facility hosting the Ontario OFSAA Track and Field meet and the Junior Ultimate Frisbee Championships.
The club will have another major announcement on Wednesday, followed by the naming of the team’s first ever head coach on Friday.
Belleville Ontario is 188kms east of Toronto and 230kms west of Ottawa. The last census in 2016 counted 50,720 people living in the Belleville area which is home of the Bay of Quinte. Locals and visitors can enjoy world class wine and amazing farm to table restaurants.
Another strong region for the Skyhawks is Quinte West (formally known as Trenton) which has a population of 43,577 and is 25 minutes from Belleville. It is also the home of the National Air Force Museum of Canada.
The Calgary Colts were a dynamic force during the 1989 and 1990 seasons winning back to back Canadian Bowl titles behind head coach Keith Kendal.
In 1989, Kendal had the Colts hitting their stride at the perfect time heading into the playoffs. They were lucky enough to sneak into the post season finishing with a 3-3-2 record, good for fourth in the Prairie Conference. They matched up with the first place and top team in the country, the Regina Rams in the Conference semi-final and upset them 38-33. That set up a date with the second seeded Saskatoon Hilltops in the Conference final, a team they had tied in the regular season. This time they needed a last second field goal to upset the Hilltops 33-30 to win the right to host the Burlington Jr Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Bowl. In front of 1,375 fans at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, the Colts took down the Ti-Cats 23-6 to win their first ever national title.
“It was one of those things when all of a sudden everyone started to believe in one another,” said Kendal following the championship run. “Team effort came into it all the way down the line.”
Following the 1989 season Kendal was named the CJFL Gordon Currie Coach of the Year.
For an encore in 1990, the start of a new decade Kendal again working his Colts magic at the helm leading his club to a 6-2 record and seeded second heading into the playoffs. After taking down the Hilltops in overtime in the semis, they faced the top seeded Rams in the Conference final and for the second straight season sent them packing with a 45-14 victory.
In the national semi-final the Colts easily took down the BC Conference champion Surrey Rams 49-11, in BC before travelling to Windsor to face the AKO Fratmen for their second straight Canadian Bowl. They made quick work of the home side, stomping them 50-15 to retain the national title, making Kendal a back to back championship head coach.
In 2018 Kendal and those Colts teams were inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
After leaving the Colts in the early 90’s, he returned to the organization in 2006 and led them for another five seasons including 2011 when he was 72 years young. He was named the Prairie Conference Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
In all, Kendal coached the Colts for 11 seasons leading them to their only national titles. He is a CJFL Legendary Coach.
The CJFL is focused on returning to play in 2021 and continue to plan for a full season leading up to the Canadian Bowl National Championship.
The cancellation of the 2020 season affected all of our players but most significantly those athletes that are nearing the end of their eligibility. The decision has been made to extend the eligibility of those players 22 years of age in 2020 (born 1998) for one additional season in 2021. Furthermore for those players 21 years of age in 2020 (born 1999) they have been granted one additional year of eligibility as well for the 2022 season. The CJFL remains committed to players that have chosen the CJFL as their long-term development path. To be eligible for this extended eligibility, affected players must have been on a 2019 CJFL roster, or registered with the CJFL (including those signed to a letter of intent) prior to August 6, 2020.
The CJFL and our 18 member teams continue to work towards a successful 2021 season.
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