2016 OFC Champions! Hamilton Hurricanes

By
Updated: November 8, 2016
2016-champs

Hamilton Spectator
Steve Milton

They were out there, working in anonymity, at the HAAA grounds day after day, week after week.

“Every night,” Jake Marquette beamed Sunday night after he had quarterbacked the Hamilton Hurricanes to a 52-21 rout of the Windsor AKO Fratmen in Sunday’s Ontario Football Conference championship game at Tim Hortons Field.

“We worked hard: for exactly this. It seemed like we couldn’t be stopped and we weren’t.”

The Hurricanes snapped the Fratmen’s OFC championship streak at three and won their first league title in five years.

Marquette, the former Cathedral and Cardinal Newman player who is only 19, didn’t sport gaudy statistics — going 15 for 19 for 199 passing yards with three interceptions and three touchdowns — but he was in complete control, particularly in the Canes’ dominant second and third quarters.

He hit primary target Zeph Fraser for a couple of wide-open touchdowns, and completed five passes to Angus Button for 97 yards.

It’s been a memorable few months for Marquette. He broke the OFC completion percentage record held by his current coach Jason Hayes, led his team to seven straight victories after throwing four second-quarter interceptions in an early-September loss to Windsor, worked full time at a moving company and became the father of Xayvion Marquette, who’s now five months old.

“Back in August,” he said with a grin “Nobody could have told me it would end like this.”

While the Canes stapled 52 points onto the scoreboard, this game turned distinctly on a defensive stand early in the second quarter. Windsor had a solid march going and was sitting first and goal from the five, trailing only 16-13, when the Hamilton tightened and AKO then missed a chip-shot field goal.

So much hard-earned yardage, for a morale-sapping single point. The score the rest of the way home was 36-7.

“I’m going to take that one and it’s going to sit with me all off-season,” said Windsor head coach Mike LaChance.

“We tried to tie it up on a field goal and obviously if I could do it again, we’d go for it.

“Sometimes there’s a swing moment: it was a coaching moment, and I got out-coached. Hamilton played well all game.”

With Hamilton up 22-14 in the second quarter, Tyler Swick blocked a punt deep in the Windsor zone and recovered the ball at the one-yard line, leading to Fraser’s second touchdown. That delivered the Hurricanes into the intermission with a 15-point lead and a very serious tailwind, and Windsor was never really in it again. They could not get their star running back Cody McCann (41 yards) untracked against the Hamilton front wall.

“Our defence pretty well stopped them,” said Fraser. “And we know what to do on offence. I’m glad we have Jake for a couple more years.”

The Hurricanes have now won seven Ontario titles, while Windsor stalled at nine. The league record is held by the Ottawa Sooners with 11 championships.

After a few years as an Under-24 league, the OFC capped its players age at Under-23 this season in preparation for next year when they will go back to Under-22 and qualify to play in the national junior championship against league winners from B.C. and the prairies.

“I think it’s good for the Canadian Junior Football League to have a true national championship,” Hayes said. “I’m sure us and Windsor will be at the top of the list in Ontario again next year.

“But let these guys enjoy this right now. To go on a seven game winning streak and go out like this against a great team … we just played that well today.”

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