The Fratmen franchise in Windsor, Ontario is one of the oldest in CJFL history playing their first season in 1945 as the Windsor AKO Fratmen. At that time they played in the Western Ontario Junior Ontario Rugby Football Union and played just four games. Clearly that first year was an indication of how strong the Fratmen would become after finishing their inaugural year undefeated at 4-0.
In their 72 year history the Fratmen have compiled an incredible overall regular season record of 396-151-14, while they are 73-57-1 in the post season. They are also the last Ontario team to win the CJFL Canadian Bowl which was an exciting accomplishment in 1999 on their home field.
Back in 1945 the undefeated Fratmen only played in their own division and despite finishing 4-0; they didn’t play another game that year. The following season the Fratmen finished 7-1, tied atop the standings with the Assumption College Purple Raiders. The pair met in the West Division semi-final where the Raiders beat the Frat in the best of three series 2-0 outscoring them 42-8.
The next season (1947) was a strange one. The Fratmen again faced the Raiders in the semi-finals and again the Raiders won. However the Raiders then declined to play any more playoff games so the Fratmen by default took their place. They went on to beat the Petroria Hard Oils 10-5 and punched their ticket the Ontario final. The game was played on December 13, 1947 and the Fratmen claimed the victory 11-2 over the Hamilton Jr. Wildcats thus beginning the bitter rival between Windsor and Hamilton.
In 1952 the Fratmen had their best season to date. At that time there were eight divisions across the country in the CJFL with the Fratmen playing in the Junior Ontario Rugby Football Union. The club finished 6-0 outscoring their opponents 237-26 in the process. In the post season they would defeat the Toronto Parkdale Lions 22-16 and the Lakeshore Flyers 22-6 to win the right to host the Canadian championship game, at that time called the Leader Post Trophy, today we know it as the Canadian Bowl. In front of 4300 fans the Fratmen won their first national title after beating the Edmonton Wildcats 15-12.
The following season the defending Canadian champions again had a magical campaign going undefeated in the regular season. Their playoff run saw them breeze through with wins over the Sarnia Knights, Hamilton Jr. Tiger-Cats and a 25-17 victory over the Quebec champion Verdun Sham-Cats. The Fratmen again found themselves in the Leader-Post Trophy game, however this time traveled to Saskatoon to meet the powerhouse Hilltops who clubbed the Frat 34-6 to dethrone the champs.
The 1954 season saw a familiar path for the Fratmen who for the third straight year were right back in the national championship game. They hosted the Winnipeg Rods and beat them 13-9 for their second Leader-Post Trophy in three years.
It was déjà vu all over again in 1955 when the Fratmen and Rods again played for the national championship title. However this time it was the Rods that came out victorious with a 19-13 win.
The Fratmen didn’t get back to the big dance again until 1996 when they fell to the Hilltops. However three seasons later the Fratmen won back the national crown with a thrilling 32-29 victory at home over the Okanagan Sun.
In all, the Fratmen have three national championship titles to their credit along with an incredible 21 Conference championships and 29 first place finishes.
Following the 2019 CJFL season another exciting and historical moment in the Fratmen history took place when the organization was purchased by the St. Clair College Student Athletic Association. This year if the season is played the franchise is now the St. Clair Fratmen dropping the AKO moniker. They will play their home games at the brand new Acumen Stadium which was finished in 2020.
Throughout their history the Fratmen have had some outstanding players in their program. Tommy Grant was a 1955 Conference All-Star that went onto play in 14 CFL seasons reaching the Grey Cup nine times, winning four rings. He ended his career with 54 touchdowns, 6542 yards on 329 receptions. He was inducted into the CFL Hall of Fame in 1995. Jerry Kauric is also a former Fratmen that played on national stage in four seasons with the Edmonton Football Club. As a matter of fact he kicked a 49 yard field goal in the dying seconds of the 75th Grey Cup giving his Edmonton team a 38-36 win over Toronto in 1987. Three years later Kauric kicked for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL in 1990. They only won three games that season, two of them coming courtesy of a game winning kick by Kauric.
Today the Fratmen have two alumni on CFL active rosters including Dillon Grondin (LB) of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and Llevi Noel (WR) of the Toronto Argos.
In 2021 the Fratmen will again be led by long-time head coach Mike LaChance who enters his 18th season. This year however they will look a bit different in their new green and gold uniforms. The winner of the Ontario Conference this season will host the Canadian Bowl and the Fratmen and St. Clair College would like nothing more than to show off their new digs to the rest of the country in that game.
Quick Fratmen Facts:
Conference – Ontario Conference
Location – 2000 Talbot Rd, Windsor, ON
Head Coach – Mike LaChance
Stadium – Acumen Stadium
Social Handle - @stclairfratmen
Motto – Gold Standard
Primary Colours – Green & Gold
Photo courtesy of Louis Christ Photography
CJFL Commissioner Jim Pankovich has demonstrated an incredible amount of leadership during the COVID-19 crisis and has been named the 2020 CJFL Stewart MacDonald Executive Of The Year.
Starting from the very early days of the pandemic, Jim had envisioned the difficult path that was before us and began to strategize and approach to deal with the situation.
Jim’s calm, cool, and measured approach kept the Canadian Junior Football League on track to making a difficult decision based on a tremendous amount of information from multiple sources. The outcome ultimately wound up being the best decision one could make for the safety and well being for the athletes, coaches and entire CJFL.
The Commissioner spent hundreds of hours, talking with experts, politicians, doctors, CFL football executives and a multitude of CJFL members throughout the country in the early stages of the pandemic. Jim had developed a primary plan as well as many multi leveled and layered contingency plans and was able to present these to stakeholders in a matter that had led to the consistent buy in and ownership of all the parties involved.
His in-depth analysis and planning put the CJFL in a place where the league moved methodically forward while maintaining an optimistic view for what was to come. Timelines were developed for primary and secondary strategies, input was requested and documented and thoroughly discussed with all the key stakeholders allowing for educated thought through debates and decisions.
Although the cancellation of the 2020 season and the Canadian Bowl was not the desire of anyone, when it came time to make that decision everyone was confident that the league had viewed and analyzed all angles and the best decision for the safety of the whole was made. Despite the gravity of this decision the CJFL holds the belief that we are still in a strong position to succeed going forward and faith or optimism has not been lost for future seasons. This was accomplished only because Jim’s complete dedication and commitment to ensure no stone was left unturned before a decision was made. His desire and professional, positive attitude was the glue that held the CJFL executive together throughout this challenging time.
The CJFL did not react hastily nor erratically when it came time to cancel the 2020 season. Jim epitomized the old-World War II mantra of “stay calm and carry on.”
Jim has won this award previously in 2015, and it is a testament to his extreme ability to lead our league that he is awarded the Executive Of The Year five years later. Many have discussed that with Jim Pankovich at the vanguard of this crisis, we were never in a position of defeat but in a position of growth and evolution of the game of junior football in Canada.
What a year for sport in Canada in 1976 as Montreal became the first Canadian city to host the Olympic Games in July.
The year was a leap year, which began on a Thursday and the CJFL kicked off with four Conferences and 31 teams. The Ontario Conference itself had three divisions and 13 teams, the Manitoba Conference had four, the Alberta Junior Conference tallied eight and had teams from Saskatchewan and the BC Conference had six strong. It’s interesting to note only one team finished the season undefeated; the Ottawa Sooners were 8-0 but lost in the Conference semi-final.
In the “Year of the Dragon” the road to the Canadian Bowl featured four Conference champions:
Ontario Football Conference – Hamilton Hurricanes defeated the Verdun Maple Leafs in a best of three series.
Manitoba Junior Football Conference – St. Vital Mustangs also beat the Winnipeg Hawkeyes in a best of three series
Alberta Junior Football League – Regina Rams beat the Edmonton Wildcats 62-28
Big Four Football (BC Conference) – Vancouver Meralomas shutout the North Shore Cougars 24-0
During the 1976 playoffs the CJFL featured a pair of Inter-Conference semi-finals to determine who would play for the Armadale Cup (known today as the Canadian Bowl). The Ontario champion Hurricanes pounded the Manitoba champion Mustangs 23-8 to advance, then the Alberta champion Rams dominated the BC champion Meralomas 48-0 to set a date with the Hurricanes.
The national championship Armadale Cup was played on November 13, 1976 in front of an incredible 10,000 fans in Regina. The Rams used the big crowd energy to perfection and crushed the Hurricanes 45-23. The victory marked the second straight season defeating the Hurricanes in the national championship game. In four 1976 playoff games the Rams’ defence pitched a pair of shutouts.
Off the field in 1976 the Apple Computer Company was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The CN Tower in Toronto opened its doors in June and Rocky was the top grossing movie of the year, knocking out the competition with $55,900,000 earned at the box office.
The first laser printer was also introduced in 1976 by IBM and Wings had the top song on the Billboard Charts with “Silly Love Songs.”
Pierre Trudeau was the Prime Minister watching the Montreal Canadians sweep the Philadelphia Flyers in four games to win the Stanley Cup. The Toronto Blue Jays were created in ’76, then played their first game the following season.
Back on the gridiron it was a battle of the Roughriders in the 64th Grey Cup when the Ottawa Rough Riders defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders 23-20 in Toronto. Some experts still say this was the most thrilling Grey Cup. Meanwhile down south the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Super Bowl 10.
That was the year of 1976!