Pictured is Kevin Aleinik making a touchdown catch. Kevin has committed to play football at McMaster University. Photo by Joel D. Herrington.
A long time has passed since my Dad walked off the St. Lawrence High School football field (now La Citadelle) and onto the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Big East. Other great players would keep playing in the Quebec League for the Emards and a few more would play in the CFL. That era demanded the sport and the game was solid and well attended. Last fall a reunion was held at the Parkway, where Andy Petepiece drew 200 old footballers together to reminisce and tell a few lies. They are set to do it again this July.
But throughout the mid eighties and the nineties, the interest for the sport dropped off and like many things, football seemed to be going in a different direction. Then, some dedicated people with a direction, allowed football to make some noise again. About ten years ago, Cogeco started to cover the high school games and the power house Raiders teams from CCVS coached by the late Barry Smith and Bill Swinden got the game back in the spotlight.
Beyond the resurgence of Smith’s Raiders, the Wildcats program seemed to be a steady constant.
The most noticeable growth has come in the spring leagues, both Ontario Varsity Football League OVFL (ages 16-19) and Seaway Valley House League. The Seaway Valley Spring League is running with 230+ kids playing, ranging from 7-19 years old. With the OVFL this puts area football registration at close to 300 total participants in the spring season. There are also another 400+ kids from Tagwi, Russell and Alexandria that participate in this spring league. 120 kids played indoor football from January to March, and the
Fall season will bring another 135 athletes that compete in the NCAFA (Ottawa) league.
The CMFA has been experiencing non-stop growth for the last 5 years, every year the numbers rise. The key was a marriage between high school football development, and a realization that helping and supporting each other would go a long way. Many of the coaches are high school coaches and vice versa.
Unlike the areas with yearly progressive growth of the game, kids who played in this area rarely got noticed. Case in point is in the numbers;
Before the OVFL program there were only three CIS players from this area. CCVS grad Kyle Handy (Bishops), St Joe's grad Pat Coristine (St FX) & Holy Trinity grad Taylor Servais (UOttawa). Kyle Handy was recently named to the All-Star CIS East West Bowl roster and is eligible for the 2012 CFL draft.
Then the OVFL dream materialized and it was full steam ahead. The people behind this effort knew the talent existed and needed a way to showcase it. It was their way of helping local football players play in the best league in Ontario, while giving the kids a stage to be noticed by the Canadian Colleges. Prior to Cornwall entering the OVFL, it was very rare for a Canadian university to come to Cornwall or Eastern Ontario for that matter. How big has it become, scouts are a regular occurrence at Wildcats practices and games. If you need convincing, the Wildcats went 1-7 in their first season in the OVFL. The following seven Cornwall Wildcats OVFL players have gone, or have committed to CIS programs after just one season.
2010 Jesse McPhail (Concordia) 2010 Alex Ciampaglia (Concordia) 2010 Greg Mellios (Concordia)
2011 Alex Labonte (UOttawa) 2011 Jason Seguin (Concordia) 2011 Sean Smith (McMaster)
2011 Kevin Aleinik (McMaster)
The Wildcats just wrapped up training camp for 2011 and have 55 players signed. For more information visit www.cornwallwildcats.ca
2011 Schedule - All games 3:30pm kick-off at home.
May 28th @ Myers Riders (away)
June 4th vs Kingston Grenadiers (home)
June 11th @ Cumberland (away)
June 18th vs Newmarket Storm (home)
June 25th BYE Week
July 2nd @ Guelph Bears (away)
July 9th @ Oshawa Hawkeyes (away)
July 16th vs Toronto Thunder (home)
July 23rd vs Markham Raiders (home)