London Beefeaters 28 Windsor Fratmen 20
by Jim Parker
This was not the ending the Windsor Fratmen had envisioned and it’s one that won’t easily be forgotten.
Miscues and squandered chances dashed the top-seeded Fratmen’s hopes for an Ontario Football Conference title as the London Beefeater handed Windsor its first home loss of the season with a 28-20 win in Sunday’s final at Alumni Field.
“Frustration levels are high right now, but you just have to use it as motivation for next year,” Fratmen receiver Cody Holmes said. “It fuels me. I’m watching these guys celebrate on my field and I’m not taking it too well, but, next year, they’ve got to see me.”
The third-seeded Beefeaters upset Hamilton in the semis to advance to the final and came ready to play on Sunday after splitting two regular-season games with AKO.
“We worked really hard for this and prepared a lot,” said Beefeaters running back Danny Byrne, who is a L’Essor high school grad now at school in London. “It feels good to have it all pay off.”
Windsor’s talent flashed on occasion in the game, but the Fratmen simply weren’t consistent enough in all three phases against the Beefeaters.
“In order to win against a good football team like the Fratmen, you have to play good in all three phases,” said Byrne who is an Essex Ravens product.
“It’s really a team game and you have to play good in all three phases. We were just trying to be physical. We were trying to win the line of scrimmage. Win the point of attack.
“It’s the third time we’ve played them, we’ve gathered our information on them. We knew we had to be physical. They’re a physical football team and we had to be physical on offence and we executed well and it turned out well for us.”
In the end, it’s that battle to for physical supremacy that Fratmen head coach Mike LaChance said cost his team.
“They were more physical than we were and we talked about that all week being the more physical team,” LaChance said. “(In the final), we weren’t. They outphysicaled us at the point of attack, both offensively and defensively, and, quite frankly, on special teams, too. Generally speaking, in championship games, that’s who’s going to win is the team that’s more physical and they did a better job of it.”
But LaChance, who is in his 16th season with the club, wasn’t about to pin the loss on his players.
“We’ve lost a few championship games, but I’ve never lost one where I thought we had the better team and I think we had the better team today, which means it’s on me,” LaChance said. “We got outcoached.
“You can’t look at an 18-year-old and say he made a mistake or a young quarterback’s throw was a mistake. At this level, it comes down to coaching and I didn’t have our team prepared. It’s not just on the kids. We have a 50-man roster and a 12-man coaching staff and it’s on everyone.”
After Holmes opened the scoring, the Beefeaters responded with three-straight touchdowns. A Michael Ryan touchdown had the Fratmen to within 21-13 at the half.
Jared Hayes-Williams’ touchdown catch got the Fratmen to within eight points midway through the final quarter, but miscues proved costly down the stretch.
“We had over 400 yards offence,” LaChance said. “I think we moved the ball pretty cleanly. We still had chances to win the game in the end. We had four possessions in the last five minutes of the game and we just made silly mistakes.”
So, all the Fratmen could do was watch the Beefeaters savour the victory while looking at an off-season that Holmes hopes provides motivation.
“Tough man, it sucks,” Holmes said. “Tough L (loss), but it is what it is and lock and load and get ready for next year.
“Watch them celebrate. That’s all I can say. They’re celebrating on our field. (For me), second place is a fail. We didn’t win, that’s it. So, that’s motivation for us.”