The Brantford Bisons are back in a big way.
After a pause in play during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bisons have six teams competing in the Ontario Summer Football League. It’s the first time since 2019 that Brantford has teams playing in the spring.
Brant and District Football Club president Jason Nagy said there was a “huge demand” among players.
“Registration at every age level was up,” said Nagy, noting the organization has two under-10 teams and single teams in under-12, under-14, under-16 and under-18 OSFL divisions. “I know for the under-16 and under-18 we actually had to make some cuts.
“The players are really happy to be back and the parents are happy that spring football is back.”
For the Bisons executive, this wasn’t their first kick at returning to play from the pandemic. Last fall, Brantford fielded several tackle teams that competed in league play, while also inviting players to try the new Under Armor flag football league.
When play started this spring, the Bisons found themselves in a new league. Prior to the pandemic, teams had different choices of leagues to play in. But Football Ontario decided when play resumed that it wanted everyone under the same umbrella so it introduced the OSFL.
Not all centers are created equal so AAA and AA divisions were created for the under-14, under-16 and under-18 teams with each organization deciding the level they would participate in.
Brantford chose to play AAA and it competes in the South Division along with five other centers. There is also a North Division and Greater Toronto Area Division.
“Our vice president of football, Kelly Ireland, and I decided that if we want to get better we have to compete with the best teams in the province,” Nagy said, noting the under-10 and under-12 teams aren’t tiered and just compete in East and West Divisions.
“We felt the AAA (tier) in the South Division gave us the best chance to do that.”
All of Brantford’s teams have been challenged and the Bisons premier team – under-18 – is 2-3 so far.
Each under-18 team plays a six-game regular season, although there were two developmental games to start the season. Results from the developmental games won’t be included in the regular standings but may be used to break ties at the end of the season.
“We’ve kind of been reasonably competitive,” Nagy said of the under-18 team, which he also coaches.
“Playing in that AAA division, we’re playing some of the best teams in the province. We’re hanging in every game and competing the best we can. ”
Brantford has three weeks left in the regular season before the playoffs begin.
The post-season will feature A, B, C and D brackets. The A bracket will include the top-two teams from the South, North and GTA Divisions, along with the next two teams with the best record from any of the three divisions.
The B bracket will be based solely on wins and losses. There will be eight teams in the bracket with the final two teams with the best records coming from AA. The C and D brackets will be filled out with the remainder of the AA teams.
Brantford will more than likely be in the B bracket and Nagy said at this point it doesn’t matter what the team is playing for, it just wants to play until the end.
“Any chance we get to win a championship or are in contention for a championship, whether it’s A or B, that’s a success for whatever team in our program is there,” he said.
In fact, like the players and parents, the Bisons executive is just happy to see kids back playing the game.
“We’re pretty ecstatic we’re back on the field, the kids are competing and they’re learning the game,” Nagy said.
“Anytime football is being played in Brantford, whether it’s the rep level or high school, that’s a great thing.”
Visit www.osfl.club for more information on any of the teams.
Brantford will compete with its younger teams this fall in the Ontario Fall Football League.
Following are next games for Brantford Bisons teams (all at Bisons Alumni North Park Sports Complex):
• Under-10 –– Bisons Black (3-2) vs. Guelph Jr. Gryphons, Sunday, 10 am; Bisons Red (2-3) vs. London Jr. Mustangs I, Sunday, noon.
• Under-12 –– Bisons (1-3) vs. Guelph Jr. Gryphons, Sunday, 2 pm,
• Under-14 –– Bisons (2-1) vs. Burlington Stampeders, Saturday, 11 am
• Under-16 –– Bisons (0-3) vs. Niagara Spears, Saturday, 2 pm
• Under-18 –– Bisons (1-2) vs. Niagara Spears, Saturday, 5 pm