With a win on Thursday, the Jacob Hespeler Hawks will advance to the CWOSSA Final
Football dynasties will collide on Thursday afternoon at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School.
The Hawks, who captured their ninth straight Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association last week with a win over Grand River Collegiate Institute, will host Owen Sound’s St. Mary’s High School for the right to play in the Central Western Ontario Secondary School Association final.
St. Mary’s comes into the contest riding a streak of their own. When they defeated Saugeen District 41-7 on Monday it marked their eighth straight Bluewater Athletic Association championship.
Hawks head coach Anthony Maggiacomo has been on the coaching staff for eleven seasons and has seen first-hand the evolution of the JHSS program.
“In 2010 we were excited about being competitive in the old B division,” Maggiacomo said.
“Through good fortune, talented students, and school culture our teams as of late have somewhat higher expectations. The kids have bought into our team goal, which is to compete at the provincial level.”
Higher expectations, indeed. It’s a culture that was fostered by former head coach Greg White and been passed down from class to class and upheld by Maggiacomo and his staff.
“A lot of that credit goes to our former coach Greg White, who has instilled a culture of hard work and humility,” he said.
“As we get a new crop of players each year from junior, they learn these traits from our older players, and that process essentially repeats itself. Our players learn from previous seniors the kind of effort that is expected from them and that has helped us maintain a level of effort that is necessary to be successful.”
Now they set their sights on keeping their season alive and playing for the next championship on the schedule, CWOSSA.
As experienced as the team and the program is, this year’s semi-final will provide a unique set of challenges Maggiacomo says.
“I think one thing in particular for this season that is unique for us, is because of the pandemic, we haven’t been able to compete at CWOSSA since 2019 so these are now novel experiences for our guys,” he said.
“They’re very excited about the opportunity to play past WCSSAA for the first time in their high school careers.”
Preparation for Thursday’s tilt is going well and the players are looking forward to kickoff, the coach says. Their current run of success has united not only the team, but the school and the community.
“It’s fun,” Maggiacomo said.
“We get great support from our school and Hespeler community. It’s always fun to see former students and players at our games. The kids are very excited to host the semi-final game at our field.”
With the pressure of winning often taking up most of the teams focus, Maggiacomo is trying to enjoy the ride.
“Rounds of success like this are cyclical, so I’m very much appreciative and grateful of the run we’ve had,” he said.
“They work very hard at practice everyday and have been steadily improving since our first practice in September.”