Peterborough junior varsity Wolverines made history on Saturday.
The JV’s captured the first Ontario Football Conference championship in the organization’s seven-year history and did it on home field no less. They capped a perfect 9-0 season by becoming the first Ramsay Conference team to win an OFC title and it was in thrilling down-to-the-last-minute fashion in a 43-35 win at Thomas A. Stewart Athletic Field. It was one of three OFC championship games hosted by the Wolverines on OFC Champs Day. In the senior varsity final the Wolverines fell 42-22 to the Toronto Jr. Argos. The Chatham-Kent Cougars won the bantam title 34-20 over the Vaughan Rebels.
It was the sixth time a Wolverines team reached the final, the varsity Wolverines made it seven, and JV coach Ken Butcher’s fourth trip.
“It’s nice to get over the hump especially with this group of kids,” Butcher said. “They deserved the win. Winning it in front of our fans on our home field and being the first northern team to win it is great.”
Trailing by 21 points Brantford scored touchdowns with 2:04 and 45 seconds left to draw within eight points. With 45 seconds left Mack McFarlane recovered Brantford’s on-side kick and carried it to the 11-yard line and a penalty advanced it to the one. Blaine Stevenson scored on a quarterback keep to make it 43-29 but Connor Walsh took the kick-off return 85 yards to the house on the game’s final play as Brantford played right to the buzzer.
“It was maybe a little too close for my liking,” said Wolverines’ defender Isaac Clark, “but it was a good ending.
“This means a lot to win for our pride.”
Wolverines centre Dawson Overwijk had tasted defeat in two finals.
“It feels great. I felt really proud seeing the clock hit zero,” Overwijk said. “It’s a great group of guys. It’s 10 times better to win it on home field.”
McFarlane got the Wolverines on the board first with a two-yard plunge and a Spencer Vesnaver convert made it 7-0 midway through the first quarter. Brantford replied on the next series as quarterback Justin Riley scrambled 28 yards for a score converted by Tucker Almert.
Matt Emerich scored a 55-yard rouge with 12:25 left in the first half making it 8-7. McFarlane scored on a 10-yard run, set up by Stevenson’s 17-yard scramble, to make it 15-7 at half-time.
Almert kicked a rouge to start the second half but McFarlane scored on another 10-yard scamper to make it 22-7.
Tyson Ayotte intercepted a Riley pass and ran 40 yards to get the ball to the Bisons’ 14-yard line. Stevenson scored on a 14-yard run after taking a hand-off making it 28-8.
A 27-yard run by Kyle Milburn set up Max Levasseur’s seven-yard TD run making it 35-8 with 10:59 left.
Almert kicked a rouge and Walsh ran in from seven yards to get Brantford within 35-15 with 8:38 left. Emerich added another rouge 1:15 later. A 70-yard pass and run play from Riley to Dylan Szczur cut the lead to 36-22 with 2:04 left. The Bisons recovered an on-side kick and Riley fired a 35-yard pass to Walsh to get Brantford to the Wolverines five. Walsh took a pitch from Riley in to make it 37-29 with 45 seconds left.
Brantford might have won if not for two Walsh touchdowns that were called back by Bisons’ penalties.
“It was a tough loss,” said Bisons’ coach Norm Kelly. “It was a great effort and great comeback by the boys to make it tight at the end. That one on-side kick didn’t work out for us. That was a big difference in the game. We started late. We kind of figured things out a little later than we should have. Peterborough is a great team. You can see why they were undefeated.”
Kelly says the two penalties to quash touchdowns were hard to take.
“We always kind of think the penalties aren’t there. Who knows? The refs made the calls; what can we do about it? You just have to try to fight through that adversity.”
Original Article By: Mike Davies, Peterborough Examiner
Photo By: Clifford Skarstedt