Mustangs ride to OVFL championship
London Community News
By Jonathon Brodie/London Community News / Twitter: @jonathonbrodie
The London Junior Mustangs’ Varsity squad completed a perfect Ontario Varsity Football League season, capping their inaugural year with a 42-28 win over the Myers Riders in the championship game in Oshawa on Saturday (Aug. 18).
“For football, this is huge for us and huge for our program,” said Bill Tsioros, Mustangs’ vice-president of football operations.
If London thought they were going to run through their opponents from Ottawa in the final game like they’ve done to pretty much every team all season, they had another thing coming with Myers rolling into the championship by avenging two regular season losses to the Metro Toronto Wildcats and the Toronto Thunder.
The Mustangs stumbled out of the gates early and trailed 10-0 after the first quarter—the only time London fell behind a team on the scoreboard all season.
Despite it being the first sign of trouble on the year for the white and purple, Tsioros said his team wasn’t sweating it.
“The depth we have on our team and the adjustments we made, we broke them,” he said. “As the third quarter went on they couldn’t stop our offence.”
With a big help from Isaiah Mels, who finished the day with almost 200 yards on 20 carries, London managed to cut the deficit to 17-14 at halftime and had their first lead of the game when Brendon Ryckman caught a pass in the end zone to head to the fourth quarter up 21-20.
From there the Mustangs began to stampede, scoring back-to-back touchdowns in about five minutes, but the second TD was the backbreaker when Malcolm Brown ran back a missed field goal for 125 yards to put his team up 35-20.
“I’d call that the TSN tuning point,” Tsioros said.
This is the first year for the varsity Mustangs squad in the OVFL, after taking over the Falcons, who went 3-5 last season.
Both Mels and Brown were named MVP of the championship game, while Ryckman was awarded as his team’s MVP.
To really finish off the 11-0 season, London led the league in all-star nods with seven.
“We knew that we had a team of all-stars and there’s probably guys who should have been on that team even more,” Tsioros said. “You don’t put up 40 points a game and not have an offensive lineman on the all star team.”
Receiving the all-star recognition are head coach Chris Bertoia, running back Dwaine Stewart, punter/kicker Spencer Bollman, wide receivers Nathaniel Behar and Colin Drennan and defensive linemen Rupert Butcher and Zack Mallough.
When asked who’s the best player on London’s championship crew, Tsioros had trouble giving his answer and listed just about every Mustang on the roster, on and off the sidelines, mentioning a standout feature for each on why they could get the top honour.
“We didn’t have the top quaterback, we didn’t have the top running back and it’s because we balanced our team,” he said. “With us, you talk to Hamilton or Essex (the two teams London beat to get to the final), to play us they had to practice completely.”