North Bay player in NFC hall of fame

By DAVE DALE, NORTH BAY NUGGET
Original Article Here

North Bay Bulldogs’ all-time top scorer, Ricky Thompson, was honoured Saturday during the NFC semi-pro contest against the visiting Sudbury Spartans, Saturday.

Sudbury withstood a late push by the Bulldogs to sweep the three-game series between the clubs with a 16-8 victory. Each team now moves on to the playoffs with opponents and schedules to be confirmed.

Thompson, a prolific kicker, punter and slot back 1993 to 2008, earned an induction into the Northern Football Conference Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place at half-time with both teams creating a half-circle facing several hundred fans at the Steve Omischl Sports Fields Complex.

Thompson and his wife, Melissa, a former Bulldogs trainer, traveled from their home in Welland, ON for the event.

“It was a great honour and a shock, actually,” Thompson said at the tail end of the game, referring to when Bulldogs coach and president Marc Mathon told him.

The 1995 and 2005 NFC all-star said he wasn’t aware of all the statistics he compiled over 15 years.

He said it’s hard to watch the Bulldogs play without wanting to get back in there, especially with several of his former teammates still taking part.

“Even now you still have the itch to play but you know your body can’t handle it, so that’s one of things right? But it’s a great atmosphere and I miss it,” he said.

The Widdifield Secondary School graduate is second all-time in the 65-year-old NFC league’s field goal department, hitting 38 with his longest field goal from 45 yards out, which won a game in the last second.

He is third all-time in converts hitting 189 of 194 (five blocked, none missed).

Thompson leads the league in single point rouges with eight coming off field goal attempts and 14 scored on punts.

As a receiver, he caught 105 passes for 1,226 yards and found paydirt eight times.

As a ball carrier, he averaged 7.23 yards on 39 rushes gaining 282 yards and scored two touchdowns.

He sits ninth all-time in the NFC scoring with 387 points, the most ever by a Bulldogs player.

Thompson was named to the NFC all-star team twice, the first in 1995 and second in 2005.

As for punting, his average was in the 40-yard range over 15 years.

The Bulldogs introduction to Thompson captured the value of the player and depth of his character.

“Ricky’s team attitude is second to none as he was always first to welcome new players onto the team … He’s always ready to spend some time teaching young players how to be competitive as receivers, kickers or punters,” those in attendance were told.

“He was the calming voice on and off the field. Ricky’s character stands for all that is good in a man and football player.

“He is exactly the type of player that is becoming of an NFC Hall of Famer.”

Mathon said Thompson was committed to excellence.

“Ricky was a terrific teammate as well as an awesome player to coach. He met his wife Melissa within the Bulldogs family and is an example of all that is good about football and the relationships fostered within the sports,” he said.

“Great friend, great football player … great person.”

Thompson’s former teammates still suiting up as Bulldogs include Ron Penasse, Russ Burns, Josh Ricker, Randy Nodder, Dan Routley, Sterliing Bilz, Tyler Croghan, Jack Ramsey, John Smales and Brian Samson. Coaches and executive include fellow NFC hall of famer running back Mick Bilz, Jason Pichette, Eric Morgan and Adam McLaren.

Congratulations to the 2017 NFC Champions

For the GTA Allstars it was a perfect season. It all began on May 27th 2017 with a 14-0 victory over a game-ready Ottawa team. As the weeks went on the questions about the abilities of the GTA AllStar team to live up to their 2016 season fell to the side as did their opponents. The coaching and the players refined their skills and played great football. As the season moved forward it became obvious that the GTA Allstars were excellent on all sides of the ball. They could stonewall and shut down any offence and then unleash it’s high-powered offence to march down the field.

All of the gears and cogs moved in alignment to earn the GTA Allstars a perfect regular season posting 8 wins and 0 losses with 307 points for and only relinquishing 71 to all of their opponents. The GTA Allstars earned the first place berth in the NFC Championship. The first to fall was the returning North Bay Bulldogs who put up a valiant effort in their game against the defending champions but the score of 34- 0 sent them home. The Sarnia Imperials stepped up to the challenge after winning an exciting contest against the Ottawa Invaders. The GTA All Stars overcame the Sarnia team to advance to the finals 35-0.

The challengers in the finals, the Tri-City Outlaws, were a formidable force and the 2nd ranked team in the regular season with an impressive 6-2 record. It took the Dan Diagle lead offence to finally put points against the Allstars for the first time in the 2017 tournament. The Outlaws looked strong and ready. Then the tide shifted to the number one seed. The GTA Allstars then unleashed it’s offence to take advantage of the few minor mistakes made by the Outlaws to put up 29 points via touchdowns by play makers: Phil Dixon, Jahmeek Murray, Kevin Walsh and Quincy Van De Cruize. The GTA kicker Ovi Coca added four converts and a rouge to the point total. In the end the powerhouse Outlaw team couldn’t dethrone the champions. The GTA All Stars took home the title over a tough Outlaw team.

Congratulations to our 2017 NFC Champions the GTA Allstars. The dynasty continues as they reign once again holding the throne they first took in 2015, defended in 2016 and clutch with an iron grip in the 2017 season.

Outlaws eyeing fourth NFC Title

Article by  Josh Brown jbrown@therecord.com , Twitter: @BrownRecord at the Waterloo Region Record.
Original: https://www.therecord.com/sports-story/7504185-outlaws-eyeing-fourth-nfc-title/

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WATERLOO REGION — Chris Newsome remembers the work ethic.

Oh, the Tri-City Outlaws had all-stars the last time the club made the Northern Football Conference championship six years back, but there was no attitude on the field.

“The whole atmosphere was that we just picked up our lunch pails and went to work,” said the team’s defensive co-ordinator and assistant coach.

Newsome, who coached that 2011 winning squad, sees similarities this time around as the Outlaws get set to return to the final against the GTA All-Stars Saturday at Brampton’s Chinguacousy Park at 6 p.m.

“It’s the same kind of attitude that we had back then,” he said. “We have stars but everyone is equal and there is a family environment.”

The Outlaws will need every advantage they can get if they plan to knock off the mighty All-Stars as the GTA bunch has yet to lose this season.

The team went 8-0 in regular season action, outscored opponents 307 to 41 and has added a pair of wins in the playoffs, including a 35-0 pasting of the Sarnia Imperials to reach the title game.

Tri-City is 8-2 so far and advanced to the championship thanks to a one-sided 42-23 semifinal victory against the Oakville Longhorns this past weekend at Rogers Field.

“It’s pretty huge,” said Newsome. “For some of our guys this is unchartered territory.”

The Outlaws were crowned NFC champs in 2005, 2008 and 2011. The last run saw the club add its only national title in franchise history after the lads beat the Calgary Wolfpack 31-14 in the Canadian Major Football League final.

That championship squad graduated most of its top players, and the team has been rebuilding ever since.

“For the most part there are only one or two guys that are still around from 2011 and know what it has been like,” said Newsome.

The Outlaws and All-Stars did not clash during the regular season, making scouting tough.

“It’s difficult because you don’t know what to expect,” said Newsome. “What I’ve heard is that they are very aggressive. The defence has been their driver all season long.”

But GTA is also in the dark.

And Newsome is hoping he can work that to the team’s advantage.

“On the one hand you don’t know what to expect from them, but they don’t know what to expect from us,” he said.

One thing is clear — the Outlaws are improving.

The second-place club has been getting stronger every game since dropping their final tilt of the regular season and has progressed through the playoffs relatively injury-free.

That gives Newsome hope.

“We’re finally at the point where we have all the right bodies in at the right places and we can finally do the things we want offensively and defensively that we’ve been working on all season long.”

 

Beckford and Ashe back together again with the Outlaws

Photo Details: Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks alumni and best friends Jahmeeks Beckford, left, and Shawn Ashe have reunited on the football field with the Tri City Outlaws men’s team. The two were part of WLU’s last Vanier Cup-winning team. – David Bebee,Record staff

Here is a link to the original article: https://www.therecord.com/sports-story/7343981-beckford-and-ashe-back-together-again-with-the-outlaws/ Please, like and share it to give the writers your support.

WATERLOO REGION — They’re best friends.

They won a Vanier Cup with Wilfrid Laurier University on a cold day in Hamilton back in 2005.

Later in life they stood side by side as the best man at each other’s wedding.

Now Kitchener’s Jahmeeks Beckford and Shawn Ashe have reunited on the football field with the Tri-City Outlaws.

Beckford is the team’s assistant defensive coach while Ashe is making his return as a slot receiver after lengthy hiatus due to a concussion.

“I’m a big fan of his,” said Beckford, 36. “It’s fantastic to see him out there comfortable and excited.”

Their football story goes back more than two decades.

The duo met when they were about 12 years old.

“We dated the same girl … not at the same time,” said Beckford with a laugh. “She brought him to the neighbourhood and we connected.”

The pair bonded over a mutual fondness for football and used to walk to Eastwood Collegiate Institute together and then back home again after pigskin practice.

They’ve been teammates ever since — from the youth league Vipers to the high school Rebels to the university Golden Hawks and, lastly, the Outlaws on the senior men’s circuit.

“I couldn’t ask for a better best friend,” said Ashe, 36. “He’s one of the most genuine, fun loving and kind people that you’ll meet. He’s been with me through a lot of tough things and vice versa.”

One of them included a severe concussion that knocked Ashe off the gridiron about three years back.

Ashe was playing safety for the Outlaws at the time when he collided with an Ottawa player in the opening week of the 2014 season.

“We just went bucket to bucket,” he said. “He got the best of me at 240 pounds, while I was 190. It was a pretty rude awakening.”

The hit sent Ashe to the sidelines for five weeks. He pushed through the rest of the campaign before realizing he needed a longer layoff and spent the next two-plus years getting healthy before feeling the itch to return.

“I had no intention of playing,” he said. “I thought I had hung up the cleats. But being around the Outlaws last year and the game … you just get this urge. It’s hard to describe.”

The Outlaws kicked off their season this past weekend with a 38-19 victory over the Steel City Patriots in Hamilton.

The squad, which plays in the nine-team Northern Football Conference, hosts the Oakville Longhorns in their home opener Saturday at Rogers Field in Cambridge, at 7 p.m.

Ashe felt great in the team’s debut and caught six passes for 98 yards with a fourth-quarter touchdown.

“He looked right back in his element,” said Beckford, who retired from playing after rupturing his Achilles in 2008. “He’s an incredible competitor.”

More importantly, it just feels nice to have his old pal back with the Outlaws.

“It’s a place we’ve been,” he said. “We grew as football players and best friends there. So being back together on the field in this capacity is just fantastic.”

jbrown@therecord.com ,

Twitter: @BrownRecord

City School Teacher Mixes Passing Grades and Passing Plays

By Troy Shantz (Original Article: http://thesarniajournal.ca/city-schoolteacher-mixes-passing-grades-and-passing-plays/ ) Remember to like and share the original article to support NFC football and local media.

A teacher at Queen Elizabeth II School has his own way of dealing with stress outside the classroom.

“I love hitting guys, I love getting hit … I think it’s a really good outlet,” Ryan Lounsbury, who is a member of the Sarnia Imperials football team.

The six-foot-one, 195 lb. wide receiver has been an Imperial for nine years and was recruited by Jake Cherski, who still manages the team today.

Many players on the semi-pro football team also have nine-to-five jobs, and Lounsbury is no exception. He teaches Ojibwe at Queen E.

“You walk into work with a limp sometimes but it’s totally worth it,” he said.

Lounsbury got his start at the age of eight playing Sarnia Minor Athletics Association football. Though hockey dominated his adolescent years he also donned the blue and white football jersey for SCITS.

Lounsbury had a short stint with the Lambton Lions, and after finishing an environmental science degree at Windsor University, followed by teacher’s college, found his way back to the field and joined the Imperials.

It was culture shock at first, he said.

“Coming out here and playing against men? Totally different experience,” he recalled.

“I’ve been hit hard a few times, I’ll tell you that. But it’s an adjustment. After you play a couple years you take those hits, you learn to deal with it, it almost gets you fired up after that.”

The Imperials are one of nine teams in the Northern Football Conference representing cities between Sudbury and Ottawa.

Lounsbury has experienced the lows and highs of the franchise, including last season’s exciting trip to the finals. He feels good about the current season as well, he said.

“Nothing is ever out of reach. We have some great athletes.”

The league uses a fusion of NFL and CFL rules, and the level of play is fairly high, Lounsbury said. Several Imperials have had tryouts with CFL clubs and the league is a hotbed for nurturing talent for the professional league.

Lounsbury also heads the basketball and touch football programs at Queen Elizabeth, and coaches the Jr. Sting AAA hockey team in winter.

The skills he’s learned have translated over to his time on the gridiron, he added.

“A couple years ago I stepped up. I feel like I’ve become a leader too.”

For details on Sarnia Imperials schedule and roster, visit www.nfcfootball.ca/team/sarnia-imperials