Category: League News

2020 NFC Season Notice

April 19, 2020 

Tonight the Northern Football Conference held a Special Meeting of its entire membership to discuss the 2020 season. The nature of the NFC is that we operate at a semi-pro level football league which involves longer pre-season preparation times for marketing, player signing & training camp operations than varsity age groups.

As well, in order to avoid conflicts with OUA football, the NFC needs to wrap up its season by the third week of August. With many municipalities cancelling field access until July the NFC’s summer window to conduct a season has passed us by. As a result, the Northern Football Conference has, as of tonight, cancelled its 2020 season and clubs are planning for a strong comeback in 2021.

With that decision the NFC membership adds that the safety of its players, coaches & volunteers was also an important factor in making this decision, which is why the NFC waited until now to make that call. “Once it became evident that fields across the league would not be available until well into our summer season window we gathered the membership and together we made this decision. It was a hard one that nobody took lightly.” Said Marc Mathon secretary of the NFC. 

NFC clubs may hold football camps and inter team scrimmages later in the summer, if their local situation changes and makes fields available and intercity travel is deemed safe by the provincial government. We encourage players to stay in touch with their teams for updates on club driven events.

NFC COVID-19 UPDATE

Without question, this is an unprecedented period of difficulty for everyone inside and outside the sports world.

The health and safety of all NFC members, fans & family is our highest priority. With the start of the 2020 NFC season still more than 2 months away, the NFC has made no adjustments or changes to the schedule, but circumstances are changing daily.

The government has asked that we avoid gatherings of 50 or more and avoid gatherings if at all possible. All indoor practice facilities and school gyms have been closed for the rest of the month of March and are likely to extend further into April. The NFC Executive asks that all member clubs suspend football activities until April 15th to do our part in complying with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations and reduce the risk to NFC members contracting COVID-19.

The NFC will be monitoring events and government responses over the coming weeks. We will be considering all available options that will see the 2020 schedule get started. The NFC will provide another update on April 16th as circumstances will surely be different than they are today.

Please keep yourselves and your families safe and lets do our part to help reduce the spread of this virus so we all can get back to normal life sooner than later.

 

Patriots heading to NFC Championship with win over Sarnia

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Hamilton Today

Saturday night the Steel City Patriots punched their ticket to the 2019 Northern Football Conference Championship with a big 43-0 win over the Sarnia Imperials. The Patriots, on the road in Sarnia after a regular season loss to the Imperials, were looking to get revenge for that game and a loss to Sarnia in the 2018 NFC Semi-Final.

With a large crowd of travelling SCP fans cheering them on, the Hamilton defence took no time to set the tone of the game. Forcing multiple turnovers and not allowing the Sarnia offence get into rhythm, the Patriot defence continued their playoff shutout streak. Cornerback Tyler Bistrovich led the charge with 5 interceptions and Safety Ise Savory stripped the ball from Sarnia players to the tune of 2 fumble recoveries.

The Hamilton offense was again led by QB Graham Kelly who was 16 of 24 and 305 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 INT, and a rushing TD.

Patriot kicker Adam Pallet was 3 for 3 on field goals.

In the other NFC Semi, the GTA Allstars hosted the Ottawa Sooners with GTA coming away with a 35-13 win.

Stay tuned for 2019 NFC Championship details.

Source: Sam MacBeath

Short-handed Spartans no match for Sooners: Sudbury’s season ends in first-round defeat

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By Ben Leeson of the The Sudbury Star

Photo Credit: Ben Leeson

Erik Conrad could have spent the moments after his final football game of 2019 dwelling on the unfortunate, almost absurd set of circumstances that hampered his team’s efforts against the Ottawa Sooners on Saturday night.

He might have been forgiven for doing so, too, with not one, not two, but three quality quarterbacks watching the game in civilian clothes, the last one injured only days before the Northern Football Conference quarter-final, leaving the locals with only three practices to improvise an offence that had limited success in a 41-0 loss at James Jerome Sports Complex.

Instead, however, the all-star linebacker chose to focus on the effort itself, which he rated as high as any the Spartans put forth this season.

“Big shout-out to Riley Roy,” said Conrad of the defensive back-turned-QB, who had never taken an offensive snap prior to Saturday’s contest. “I mean, we lost an entire position group, the quarterbacks, and without hesitation, he steps up and, with confidence, plays the best he can. Three days, it’s hard to learn a whole offence for the playoffs, so a big shout-out to him and a lot of respect.”

Despite the score, Conrad was equally impressed with his comrades on defence, who dealt with poor field position throughout the evening, yet held the Sooners offence, led by former Spartans QB Travis Campbell, to just a pair of scores until things broke open late in the third quarter.

“This year was a lot of fun, playing with a lot of young guys like Ben Caccioti, Cole Kennedy, Victor Paajanen, I mean, those guys are 17 years old and playing with a bunch of men, and they balled,” Conrad said. “They made a lot of plays and I’m excited to watch them in high school, OUA, whatever direction they go. I’m just excited for them to come out, to learn at this level and play really well. There were some mistakes, but they’re ballers.”

That wasn’t enough to stop the Sooners, however, who had narrowly escaped Sudbury with a 25-28 victory just one week earlier, but returned with a larger, healthier lineup and renewed confidence to open the post-season.

Campbell got things started for the visitors with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Alex Gauthier, with 1:50 left in the opening quarter, then led another march down the field before Remy John Cimakinda scored on a five-yard run.

Brandon McDonald ran 47 yards to the end zone with 2:13 left in the third frame and Ottawa only picked things up from there. Dylan Hines capped a drive with a one-yard rush and a major with 14:35 to go in the fourth, then Campbell found Gauthier with back-to-back TD passes of 20 yards, with 8:29 remaining, and 38, with 3:06 left on the clock.

“It feels great,” Campbell said. “I was a little nervous last week, coming in and playing guys I know and played with for seven years, so there was a little bit of pressure on me to perform and to make sure I was doing my best. This week, coming into the playoffs, we had a lot of guys coming back who we didn’t have last week, so that was a huge help.

“It’s nice when you have your whole team, you’re not missing half of it due to injuries, travelling light. We didn’t have a bus last week or this week, so we were missing guys just for that purpose, but the guys who came out, they wanted to come and play, they drove down, spent their day coming all the way out here and put everything they had into the game, and it’s great.”

With the momentum gained from back-to-back wins over the Spartans, the Sooners could be primed for a playoff run — Ottawa is the only team to beat defending-champion GTA, its semifinal opponent, though the champs had their own QB woes at the time.

“We’re just taking it one game at a time, but we know we have a great team and we think we can compete with anybody,” Campbell said. “We have shown that, we beat GTA earlier in the year and we fought them real hard the next week, even though it didn’t turn out the same way. We have been competitive in every loss we have had, so we think we’ll give anybody a fight.”

The Spartans will have to wait a year before making another attempt to advance past the first round of the playoffs, something the team has not done since re-entering the NFC in 2011, following a four-year leave of absence.

Head coach Junior Labrosse knew his crew would be in tough on Saturday, following the loss of starting QB Hunter Holub earlier in the year, then receiver/pivot Nick Rideout, and finally rookie Adam Rocha in the regular-season finale. It didn’t help that standout running back Josh Cuomo, though back in the lineup, was far from 100 per cent and nearly a non-factor in his typical role.

Still, like Conrad, Labrosse made it a point to praise his team’s attitude and approach to what proved its last game of the season.

“The effort was there and it has been there all year,” Labrosse said. “You can’t fault the guys for the type of game they played. Special teams, offence, defence, they all gave it 100 per cent, we just didn’t get the outcome we were looking for.

“When you lose three quarterbacks, of course you’re going to get the what-ifs, the woulda, coulda, shoulda. After every season that ends, if it doesn’t end in a championship, coaches will always dwell on that stuff — what if we called this, what if we had done that — but that doesn’t change the outcome. Of course, if we take away the injuries, would the game have been more competitive, would we have been able to push that defence? For sure. But I’m not taking anything away from the 12 guys who battled and who, in three days, tried to put in an offensive system with a kid who has never played quarterback. Hats off to Riley Roy for stepping in, playing both sides, defence and offence, and doing everything he could to try to get us good field position. Hats off to the O-line, too, for trying to give some glimpses of holes, for giving Riley time to try to throw some passes. And our defence, when you’re getting bad field position, it’s easier for quarterbacks to take deep shots, and that’s what they did.”

Sudbury’s coach complimented the Sooners, too, for taking care of business.

“They played a very good game,” Labrosse said. “They were the better team tonight.”

Following a breakthrough year on the recruiting front, aided in part by the collapse of the Sudbury Gladiators varsity program, and the success of rookies at several positions, the Spartans could be well-positioned for future success. Labrosse hopes their experience has been positive and will encourage many to return in 2020.

“It’s hard to tell,” he said. “I have coached seasons where you have a player who’s got potential, but he doesn’t come back the following season, because of work, school or whatever reasons. Next year is next year and we’ll see, when January, February rolls around, we’ll start to communicate and we’ll see. What are we going to get from our feeder system? Right now, I’m not sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

And whether the source was post-game emotion, or a serious pondering of his football future, Labrosse wasn’t prepared to speak with certainty about his future status as bench boss.

“You finish second in the division, you finish 5-3, it’s an accomplishment compared to how we finished last year,” Labrosse said. “We hosted another playoff game, but this losing in the post-season, not being able to get to the second round, is getting very tiresome. I don’t know how much more I can take of that.”

Steelers blank Bulldogs

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By – Sault Star

Next stop, Stoney Creek, Ont.

Having finished the Northern Football Conference regular season with a 29-0 victory in North Bay on Saturday, the Sault Steelers must immediately shift their attention to the start of the playoffs.

Having finished with a 4-4, win-loss record, the Sault is slated to visit the 6-2 Steel City Patriots next Saturday in Stoney Creek. The Steelers were sixth in the nine-team loop while the Patriots wound up in third place.

“They’re a good passing team with a good quarterback and a couple of good receivers,” Steelers player/coach Brandon Lewis said of the Patriots. “They’re a big team and they’re on a roll.”

In fact, the Patriots have won three straight.

In order to be competitive in Round 1 of the playoffs, “we’ll have to put everything together this week in order to go down there and be successful,” Lewis added.

That means additional numbers for a Sault which dressed just 19 players in North Bay, due, Lewis explained, to both work and family commitments.

Alanzo Clarke had a big game for the winners, running for three touchdowns while Stevan Hiiemaa ran for the other.

While game statistics weren’t available on Sunday, offensive coordinator Paul Caldbick estimated Clarke’s runs covered 55, 60 and 45 yards. Hiiemaa scored on a five-yard carry. Brady Smith converted all four TDs.

“Considering we had only 19 guys, we definitely played well,” said Lewis, whose club dropped the Bulldogs to 0-8 on the season. “We were good with Alanzo and Stevan Hiiemaa in the backfield. We had some new guys on the offensive line, but I thought the offence did quite well.”

Lewis also credited the defence, noting the strong play of linebackers Ray Duplin and Justin Cond.

“They’re amazing linebackers and our defensive backs were also solid in coverage.”