Wind­sor AKO owner has much re­spect for Hill­tops

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - DAR­REN ZARY

Mike Moren­cie doesn’t mince words, only ex­pec­ta­tions.

Moren­cie, who is the oth­er­wise jovial team owner and de­fen­sive co-or­di­na­tor for the Wind­sor AKO Frat­men, sounds prac­ti­cally con­vinced that his team doesn’t have a chance head­ing into Satur­day’s Cana­dian Bowl against the reign­ing three-time cham­pion Saska­toon Hill­tops.

“As a coach­ing staff, and this isn’t coach-speak, we’re look­ing at them and say­ing, ‘We can’t win against these guys,’ ” the veteran foot­ball coach ad­mit­ted Thurs­day.

“We’re go­ing to try but, if we have any suc­cess, we’re go­ing to be very for­tu­nate. This (Hill­tops) de­fen­sive front, to me, is lights out.”

Moren­cie is do­ing his best to shine a light on Satur­day’s Cana­dian Bowl matchup. He knows what lies ahead. He was head coach of the Frat­men in the 1980s and 1990s.

“All the kids are ex­cited as hell, but they have no idea what they’ve got­ten them­selves into — but that’s OK, too,” he said, laugh­ing out loud.

“I’ve been call­ing them (Hill­tops) the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots of the CJFL. We’re go­ing to have to play very, very well.”

While both teams are steeped in ju­nior foot­ball tra­di­tion, the Hill­tops are cur­rently a jug­ger­naut with 10 na­tional ti­tles un­der Tom Sargeant and six in the last seven years.

Wind­sor last won the Cana­dian ti­tle in 1999 over the Okana­gan Sun.

This year, AKO fin­ished first in the CJFL’s On­tario Foot­ball Con­fer­ence with a 7-1-0 record fol­lowed by two straight wins in the OFC play­offs. Its only blem­ish was a sea­son-open­ing 30-7 loss to the Prairie Foot­ball Con­fer­ence’s Ed­mon­ton Huskies.

Wind­sor racked up 433 yards in of­fence that game but couldn’t con­vert them into points. Ed­mon­ton to­talled 397.

“We’re pretty dis­ap­pointed with the way we played,” ad­mits Moren­cie. “If you look at the yardage, you would have thought we won the game. We had five trips to the red zone in the first quar­ter and didn’t get a point. At least we got a taste of one of the better teams in the Prairie Foot­ball Con­fer­ence. That helps a lit­tle bit. We are quite aware that the Saska­toon Hill­tops are a dif­fer­ent an­i­mal all to­gether.”

Wind­sor’s wild king­dom fea­tures a nim­ble quar­ter­back, Bran­don Reaume, who rushed 47 times for 274 yards and seven touch­downs dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. Reaume also threw for 1,812 yards and a whop­ping 21 touch­downs with Devon Woods and Omar Hayes Willi­ams as prime tar­gets.

Dan­gelo Knox added 616 yards on 70 car­ries to lead the run­ning at­tack.

“We’ve ran the ball fairly suc­cess­fully this year (but) this will be the best de­fen­sive front we’re play­ing against by eons,” said Moren­cie. “The first day I watched their film — I was sit­ting in my of­fice at home, watch­ing — and my wife said, ‘How do they look like?’ I say, ‘Well, this is our op­po­nent and they’re re­ally good!’ ” He laughed.

“Our strength is we can chuck the ball. We’ve got a very dy­namic pass­ing group. Our quar­ter­back is a lit­tle like Rus­sell Wil­son, an NFL guy you can compare him with. He’s a kid who can run around and cre­ate some stuff. He can boot­leg it. We can roll him out. He’s got very good wheels so he can run it if he can get out in space.”

De­fen­sively, the Frat­men are led by de­fen­sive end Adam Slik boer, who has been prac­tis­ing with the CFL’s Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats.

Moren­cie ex­pects the Top­pers to pound the ball on the ground. He is not sure how to stop that, but he’s pre­pared to get quite cre­ative try­ing to do so.

“If we can’t stop the run, we’re go­ing to be in real big trou­ble,” said Moren­cie.

“We’re go­ing to do some schemes. I don’t be­lieve, in my heart as a long­time de­fen­sive guy, that we can just play them with our front seven. We won’t have a chance. I think we’ve got to add some bod­ies in the box, get some plus-one sit­u­a­tions, get a safety up there. I think, if we play seven-on-seven, we’re go­ing to get our asses knocked off.

“This is a pre­miere of­fence we’re fac­ing. Scheme-wise, we’ve got to do some dif­fer­ent things to get them off-bal­ance.”


The 110th Cana­dian Bowl will kick-off Satur­day at noon at Alumni Field in Wind­sor, Ont., be­tween the host Wind­sor AKO Frat­men and the reign­ing three-time cham­pion Saska­toon Hill­tops.

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