Early season play can be a little scrambly at the best of times, and reducing the number of returning players to the bantam ranks created a little more havoc than usual — the league is also lowering the age limit by one year.
That said, the season is still young, with plenty of time for skills to be polished before the league finals roll around on Oct. 20.
A familiar face within the league coaching ranks since the league was revived in 1993, Randy Stevens had his Hurricanes looking better than most, posting a season-opening 31-6 win over the Raiders.
The tone was set early when Joe Cormack returned a punt 74 yards just 2:15 into the contest, though the 'Canes were unable to convert any of their scores. The missed point after was offset early in quarter two when Travis Lester, playing his first official football game, sailed a punt 55 yards into the Pirates end zone, earning his team another point via the rouge.
The Hurricanes increased their lead to 13-0 before the half as quarterback Adam Denomme connected with Landon Witrak on a 25 yard touchdown. The teams traded first half turnovers, with Caleb Minor (Pirates) and Andrew Landriault (Hurricanes) both recording interceptions.
The Pirates looked to make a game of it early in the second half as pivot Noah Giommi spotted wide receiver Alain Huneault for a 75-yard touchdown pass — one of five times the pair combined on a pass and run play.
The momentum was somewhat short-lived as Cormack restored the two-score advantage, hauling in a 17-yard touchdown pass that was tipped by the Pirates' defender. After throwing for a pair of majors, Denomme opted to call his own number early in quarter four, rolling outside from the eight-yard line as the Hurricanes' lead increased to 25-6.
The scoring was capped in the final minutes as Lester bounced off a tackle or two, rambling in from the 17 and the Hurricanes rewarded their long-time coach with a victory to kickoff the 2012 campaign.
As might be expected in game one, offensive miscues were evident through all four quarters as Ryan Tassé and Witrak added interceptions for the winners, with Evan Lanthier nabbing a pick of his own in a losing cause.
With numbers down slightly, a handful of players on each and every team saw action on both sides of the ball, including Lester, who did a little bit of everything for the Hurricanes.
"I like being the punter," said the St. Charles College newcomer, who begins Grade 9 this week. "I really like kicking it and then chasing after the kid."
The remaining Bantam game would see the Devils stop the Mustangs 42-6, while the Tyke encounters provided quite the contrast. The Demons doubled the Colts 62-31 in a wide open affair, while the Pirates blanked the Storm 8-0 in a much more defensively-oriented battle.
All eight teams, along with the Mini-Macs, are back in action at James Jerome next Saturday, with play continuing weekly through to late October.