Pair of local football programs revel in OFSAA bowl experience

By Mark Pare

Jacob Hespeler head coach Anthony Maggiacomo may have said it best.

“Any time we get to play on the last day of the season, we're doing some things right,” the first-year coach said.

The Cambridge-based Hawks did exactly that, making an OFSAA bowl game late last month after a 12-0 year, another WCSSAA title and a CWOSSA (Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Association) championship.

It was the school's first time at the OFSAA bowl since winning the Central Bowl in 2018.

Only this time, they finally met their match in a 52-14 loss to the Sault Ste. Marie-based Korah Colts in the Northern Bowl. But Maggiacomo isn't letting that get his team down after the year they had.

The team they beat to capture the CWOSSA title, Kitchener's Resurrection Phoenix, didn't do too badly for themselves either. 

The Hawks took down the Phoenix in the CWOSSA final 55-35.

Guys like quarterback Jacob Bouck and running back Quinten Springer led the charge.

But it was the Phoenix rising at the provincial level, capturing the Metro Bowl after a 56-14 win over Toronto's Chaminade Gryphons. It's their first Metro Bowl since 2015.

“It was a fantastic season,” said Phoenix head coach Matt Gallagher.

Both local schools made it to the last games of the year because CWOSSA was the host region for the OFSAA bowl series, held this year at Guelph's Alumni Stadium.

The Phoenix coach touted the talents of quarterback Cole Henry, who also played as a defensive back when needed. There was running back Raygan Schwindt, who nabbed nine post-season touchdowns.

And how about Tyson Pahl, the Division 8 MVP wide receiver.

“We became balanced,” he said of the team's offensive attack. “Our running game really got going late in the year, especially as the weather gets colder.”

But like many championship teams, it was a full team effort for Gallagher's squad.

From the offensive line creating space, to the defensive efforts against some strong teams along the way.

“Our D was dominant throughout the entire season and postseason,” he said. “Even though Jacob scored 49 points (on offense) in the CWOSSA final, the defence made key stops in that game and got the offence the ball back. (Their) last TD was a pick six.”

In the end, both schools took home hardware. And there's potential for more hardware to come in 2023.

“Three or four (players) are graduating,” said Gallagher. “The rest are predominantly Grade 12. A major core of the team could come back next year.”

As for the Hawks, still considered one of the better sides in the province despite the OFSAA loss?

“We've got lots of good talent still,” said Maggiacomo. “High quality Grade 11 kids.

“We're already very excited for next year.”

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