‘Absolute grit’: Napanee Jr. Hawks finish second in Belleville Minor Football League

Napanee Junior Hawks minor tackle football

Adam Prudhomme

A small but determined group of minor football players from Napanee put the region on notice this spring.

Napanee’s Junior Hawks reached the ‘A’ finals of the Belleville Minor Football League on June 22, falling 32-6 to the Belleville West Chargers. While just short of a championship, the finish marked a major step forward for the team that went 4-3 in the regular season then posted a 32-0 win in the quarterfinals before besting the top ranked Bancroft T-Hawks 26-0 in the semifinals.

Napanee went into the finals with just 24 players, a huge disadvantage in itself with a short bench. Those that did show up played hard, but ultimately ran out of steam in the humidity.

“All 24 played with absolute grit,” said Junior Hawks coach Dave McRae. “Young coaches Zac Wood our D coordinator and Pat Betts our O coordinator and Don Consack our health and fitness coach and Ryan Dowling our team manager and assistant OC were committed to a small group of players through 26 practices, a scrimmage day and seven games… Our team MVP and league defensive player of the year was Eython Consack, definition of grit. Third year player Gabrial Antyi was constantly recognized by opponents and game officials as a top athlete.  Aaron Van Hoek plays as close to 100 per cent as our coaches have seen in years.”

McRae says they are already working on plans to improve the team for next spring.

Their second place finish is not only nice way to wrap up the spring tackle season, but bodes extremely well for Napanee’s high school program both immediately and down the road. Players on the Junior Hawks are in Grades 6 to 8 and the league gives them an introduction to tackle football with the intent of preparing them for high school level.

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