The clock struck midnight last Saturday for the Huronia Stallions Varsity team’s quest for an Ontario Football Conference (OFC) championship and perfect season. The Stallions entered the game 10-0 on the season including playoff wins against Etobicoke and Cornwall but fell 25-10 to the Brantford Bisons in the Ontario Football Conference (OFC) final.
The scouting report on the Bisons was that they had an excellent offensive line and a skilled running back. On the third play from scrimmage the report became a grim reality for Huronia when the Bisons punched the Stallions in the mouth with a 65-yard Matt Clarke touchdown run. Jordan Travis blocked the extra point to make the score 6-0. The Stallions responded with an excellent kickoff return by Travis who took the ball to midfield. The momentum was short lived as the Stallions offence quickly punted after a two and out. The Huronia defence then responded with a stop that led to a Jordan Travis field goal after Michael Cassano ripped off an impressive 25-yard run. The field goal made the score 6-3 Bisons. Linebacker Owen Macleod then recovered a Stallions onside kick that had the potential to really shift the momentum in the game. Once again, the Bisons stepped up on defence and forced a punt after two quick plays. The Stallions defence played very well in the second quarter and managed to stop the Bisons after Huronia quarterback Justin Winn threw an interception. The resulting poor field position prompted Huronia to concede a safety to make the score 8-3 Bisons, which was the score going into the half. Huronia found themselves in a close game at halftime despite Winn completing just one of ten pass attempts in the first half.
In the third quarter, the Stallions started with the first possession but punted after a quick two and out. Brantford began to take control of the game after recovering their own fumble on a 50/50 ball that led to a field goal. On their next possession, Matt Clarke ran right through the heart of the Huronia defence to make the score 18-3. Clarke had close to 200 yards rushing on the day.
On their next possession with three minutes left in the third quarter, Huronia began to show some life as Winn completed three straight passes. The drive was continued after a successful fake punt and culminated in a 21-yard touchdown pass from Winn to X-receiver Will McCulloch with 8 minutes left in the game. The touchdown and convert made it a one-possession 18-10 game.
On Brantford’s next possession, the Huronia defence came up with a huge stop on a third down and 2 at Brantford’s 45-yard line. The Stallions could not do anything on their next possession with another two and out but did manage to pin Brantford deep at their ten-yard line with just over 5 minutes remaining in the game. On a 2nd down and 13, the Bisons completed a deep out to the wide side of the field for a big play that brought the ball to midfield. The Stallions defence did get a stop that led to possession at their own 35-yard line with 2:35 remaining.
The Stallions then looked to continue their fourth quarter magic this year and began marching down the field. Winn completed a pass to McCulloch who leapt over two Brantford defenders for a spectacular catch at midfield. The drive was suddenly snuffed out on the next play by Winn’s second interception of the game with 1:34 remaining. Brantford scored a back-breaking touchdown with just under a minute remaining for a 25-10 lead. On their next possession, Winn threw his third interception to end any chance for victory.
Winn finished the game with 9 completions on 24 attempts for 132 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. McCulloch was the top receiver and Cassano led the team in rushing. On defence, free safety Julian DiSabatino was the leading tackler and had a pass break up.
The Stallions would like to thank the players, coaches, support staff, and fans for a great season. A special thank you is extended to the program’s graduating players; several of whom played in the house league system. These athletes are better men than football players and the coaching staff is going to miss their presence and contributions. The following is the list of graduates with their years of service in parenthesis: Justin Janicki (11), Andy Shrubsole (11), Owen Macleod (11), Jonathan Van Shubert (10), Joshua Carr (8), Christian Maciag (7), Justin Winn (7), Jordan Travis (5), Zach Kean (4), TJ Pusey (3), Jeremy Hussey (2), Malcolm Maclachlan (1).
Written by: Jason Romisher
Photo by: Jason Romisher