It’s tough to pick a season highlight for the London Junior Mustangs Atom team in 2017. The squad impressed on the field throughout the summer while traveling all over southwestern Ontario and the GTA competing against their OMFL opponents during the regular season. Meanwhile, they reached the semi-finals in postseason play, losing a tough overtime game. And in late August they got the opportunity to play on an NFL field. In other words, it was a season to remember for the Atoms.
“Our team never backed down,” said coach Bruno DeSando, who has been coaching football in London for 10 years. “Our players had a great attitude, and every single one of them developed into a better player by the end of the year.”
The Atoms had a roster of 26, with only six returnees – although most others had played in the London Minor Football Association (LMFA). But despite only a handful of players having competed together before, the team gelled quickly and it was evident on the field immediately.
“We were very well-rounded, with both a strong offensive and defensive line,” said DeSando. “We had great skill players on both sides of the ball, our quarterback and running backs were great athletes, and we were able to play defense.”
On August 25, that talented team traveled to Ford Field in Detroit and scrimmaged against a team from Grand Rapids, Michigan at halftime of an NFL exhibition game between the Detroit Lions and defending champion New England Patriots.
“All the players got to meet NFL players and play in front of thousands of NFL football fans,” DeSando said. “It was definitely a great opportunity.”
Contributions by Bruno DeSando and photo by London Junior Mustangs