(WINDSOR, ON) – AKO Windsor’s hopes for winning first national championship since 1999 were ripped apart with a 56-11 thrashing at the hands of the visiting Saskatoon Hiltops, at UWindsor’s Alumni Field.
“I’ll always bleed black and gold, and as a graduating senior we were very proud to bring ‘The Teddy’ back home,” said Fratmen QB Brandon Reaume.
After earning a bye into the national championship against Saskatoon, by handily defeating the Hamilton Hurricanes 34-20 to claim the Ted Morris Trophy and the OFC Championship on October 29, the Fratmen looked like a different team in their final game of the season.
The contest took place in front of 800 supportive AKO fans, which included several members from the 1999 squad, on Remembrance Day. With the memories of the ‘99 championship was still sweet in the minds of the Fratmen alumni, Saturday’s poor showing was a bitter pill to swallow.
“With the exception of Quarter Back Brandon Reaume, it’s like the entire Fratmen team didn’t really show up to play,” said Anthony Harris, a heralded receiver on the 1999 Fratmen. “It’s as though they consumed too much pre-game media about the Hilltops and conceded the game prior to the opening kick-off.”
His receiving battery-mate on that team, Jay Bosmier, agreed saying, “Our guys didn’t show any degree of passion or fight today.”
Both Harris and Bosmier were among several of their peers who gathered behind Assumption high school, over looking Alumni Field, to host a tailgate BBQ hours before the game started. They also retreated there at half time to lick their wounds after a very disappointing opening 30 minutes.
“We really, kind of beat ourselves,” said Reaume. “The very first play was and off side and the second the snap went right over my head, which they recovered on our 1 yard line before running it in for touchdown. From there, our lack of experience got the best of us.”
Reaume, who threw for a little over 100 yards and 1 TD in a sub-par performance, just couldn’t seem to marshal his receivers and running backs to compete at a higher level during this outing. Although Reaume set many club records, including total passing yards, pass percentage, and TDs, this year, he was overlooked for a league all star nod.
“It was a tough loss, but a great learning experience for us as a team,” Reaume said. “I didn’t have a great game and neither did the team. We were both talented teams, but we made more mistakes early and weren’t able to play from behind.”
Nonetheless, the 3rd-year QB intends to return next season, aiming for much redemption at the national level.
“Personally, it’s not the end for me I have some CIS coaches speaking with me.,” said Reaume. “I only have two years of eligibility playing in Canada now, because I’m 23 years old now. So, I’m looking for an opportunity to walk into a starting role.“
If redemption is to be had next year, Windsor AKO must especially shore up the running game, which managed sparse yardage compared to the Hilltops gains on the ground. The team must also fortify their air defense which allowed Saskatoon to pass at will on long- and short-yardage plays practically uncontested.
Although frustrated initially, AKO owner Mike Morencie conceded the lopsided loss to the prairie foes.
“We’re disappointed, of course, about such a tough finish, but with time the team is healing,” he said. “Yet, I am also very proud that this was our first year back to the Canadian Bowl in 18 years. Brandon Reaume, in particular, had a great break-out season for us this year, and really got screwed in not being a conference All -Star selection.”
Morencie also said that he spoke with the Hilltops president after the game and picked his brain for a half hour.
“Although, we couldn’t get it going in front of [Reaume] Saturday, Saskatoon made very few mental mistakes comparatively, as they are leaps and bounds, in terms of their mental preparedness,” Morencie said. “They are championship-calibre team that is very even keeled. We could never seem to exasperate them, even with our big runs. Heck, they have 20 national championships under their belt. Last four in a row.”
The Hilltops had only one turnover in comparison to 10 for Windsor. So, they have many team traits for AKO to emulate.
“But, we’re right back at it and we will be at WECSA final recruiting,” Morencie said in closing. “Even though we are returning 16-24 of starters next year, sadly Reaume won’t be one of them. But, we are looking forward to moving into a stadium at St Clair College.”
A permanent home will be a great recruitment tool for the Fratmen. It will allow them to send players to OUA and CFL programs physically ready and able.