Highlands football players help make history
By Darren Lum
Published August 15, 2017
Four local teens with a passion for football will never forget the record setting season they shared with their Peterborough Wolverines junior varsity teammates this year.
Aiden Coles, Owen Craftchick, Carson Sisson and Connor Spence are proud of being part of the team that captured the club’s first Ontario Football Conference championship title with a 43-35 win over the Brantford Bisons on Saturday, Aug. 5 in Peterborough.
All of the boys joined the team in the spring after two tryouts to earn their roster spots.They were all members of the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Red Hawks junior team last year. Every week, the group travelled twice a week for practices and games to Peterborough, including a trip as far as Sault Ste. Marie.
Craftchick had never played in a championship game and was a little nervous going in.
However it didn’t affect him playing on the offensive line. He said the experience reinforced the importance of hard work.
“It was a big accomplishment, but it definitely made you see that all the hard work you put in practising was worth it,” the 16-year-old said.
The championship title came in a year when the Wolverines dominated, finishing with a 9-0 overall record. The Wolverines also became the first Ramsay Conference team to ever win an OFC title. En route, the junior varsity team beat the Huronia Stallions to earn their berth to the OFC final.
The junior varsity game was part of an OFC championship triple-header hosted by the Wolverines at TASS. Peterborough’s Mayor Daryl Bennett declared it Football Day. The day included an OFC championship game with the Wolverines’ senior varsity team who lost 42-22 to the Toronto Jr. Argos while in the bantam final, the Chatham-Kent Cougars defeated the Vaughan Rebels 34-20.
The senior Wolverines roster also included local talent with the Highlands’ Sage Christiano, Trevor Turner and Chris Thompson.
When Craftchick played for the Hawks he played at the tackle positions on both sides of the ball. For the Wolverines, he said, he was a starter on the offensive line as centre or guard. The transition to the new positions was manageable because of the strong calibre of coaching, he said.
Craftchick joined the team because of friend Trevor Turner, who played on the senior varsity Wolverines team. He intends to play in Peterborough next year.
Craftchick and Sisson both love football, but are not thinking beyond high school.
Sisson was still on a high after his first year with the Wolverines and the championship game experience. He took satisfaction from his involvement in virtually every scoring play as a full back, which he assumed when the starter was injured during the last few games of the year.
Although he played much of the regular season as a “role player,” filling in on the offensive line, he ended up at the fullback position in the last two games of the regular season and the entire playoff run. The new role provided an opportunity for affirmation of his success.
“When you make a big block you can hear everybody on the sideline. Everybody cheering your name,” he said.
For the first six games, the team was dominating their opponents, which allowed him to play in the second half of games and gain invaluable playing time.
“I would play like the whole second half of a game so I was pretty prepared for the playoff games,” he said.
Moving off the line to be the fullback wasn’t too much of a challenge mentally. Sisson said the coach made it clear from the start that he might be called upon in the season to fill in where needed.
The experience of winning and the added playing time is going to help the Hawks, he said.
Sisson believes he and his teammates, including the senior players who will return to play in Haliburton can only help strengthen the program.
“We can bring what we’ve learned back to the team to help out this season,” he said.