For the first time since the Orléans Star has been naming a Team of the Year, two teams get to share the distinction for 2022. The U12 Mosquito Cumberland Panthers and the St. Matthew Tigers varsity football both won a city championship this year and they both went on to post-season provincial title games.
The U12 Cumberland Panthers completed an undefeated National Capital Amateur Football Association season by beating the Nepean Eagles 54-14 in the A-Cup final.
It was a totally dominating performance over an opponent that had won four games in a row heading into the championship showdown.
In fact, the Panthers had dominated the rest of the league all season long, averaging 56 points a game, while allowing an average of just five points per game. They shut out their opponents four times and only allowed eight touchdowns in 10 games.
As the NCAFA champions, the Panthers faced the Ontario Fall Football League champion Vaughan Rebels in the Ontario Fall Cup on Nov. 19 and the outcome was never in doubt as they rolled to a 54-12 win playing on a snowy field at Carleton University.
A week earlier the St. Matthew Tigers varsity football team won the National Capital Secondary School Athletic Asso-ciation (NCSSAA) Tier 1 championship with a 20-13 win over the St. Joseph Jaguars.
The Tigers were led by their quarter-back Jackson Plante who completed 11 of 18 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball six times for 46 yards and another touchdown. Plante’s favourite target was Jahim Kabongo Kabongo who caught the ball four times for 128 yards including both touchdowns tosses.
Tigers running back, Hugo Djeumeni, also had a good game, carrying the ball 21 times for 129 yards, but it was just a warm-up for what was to come.
Two weeks later, he would almost single-handily defeat Northern Secondary School from Toronto in the National Capital Bowl played in Guelph.
Djeumeni ran the ball 30 times for 280 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers’ 24-15 defeat of the Red Knights. Plante also scored a touchdown running the ball and passed for another to Cristos Zigoumis.
It was only the second time that a team from Ottawa had won an OFSAA Bowl game since 2016, when the Tigers won the Metro Bowl for the first bowl win in the school’s history. It was also only the second time that a team from Ottawa had won the National Capital Bowl since the St. Peter Knights won it in 2009.
Honourable mentions for Team of the Year also go out to the Ottawa TFC U21 women’s team which won the Ontario Cup championship in August; the U12 and U19 Ottawa-Gloucester Devils which won re-spective provincial AA titles in March; and the St. Peter Knights senior girls soccer team which won the silver medal at the OFSAA ‘AAA’ championships in June. Kudos to all the teams for their incredible achievements.