Tough 21-7 loss final game for St. Thomas coaches Jakobi and MacQueen
November 9, 2023
By Rob J. Ross
LONDON, Ont. - St. Thomas Hawks coaches John Jakobi and George MacQueen came close to finishing their careers with a story book ending.
The long time friends and football coaches retiring at the end of this season, guided the St. Thomas Hawks in to the London Minor U10 final against the undefeated Hammers.
The Hammers had only allowed one touchdown all season, but at half, it was 14-7 Hammers, with Hudson Unger scoring a TD for the Hawks.
St. Thomas pushed for a second score, but couldn't produce the equalizer. The Hammers responded with a third TD for a 21-7 win, completing an unbeaten season.
"We battled hard," Jakobi said. "We missed a few tackles that hurt us. But he was a tough runner, their 13 (3 TDs). A tough guy to bring down. We were in the right spots but didn't make the tackles."
The Hawks finished fourth in the U10 standings, at 5-2, extending the final season for Jacobi and defensive coordinator MacQueen, before upending the second place Rams in the semifinals.
For both coaches it's been about watching the players grow, not only during U10, the first years of minor football, but the players' entire careers.
"It's been fun," said Jakobi, who has been coaching for 23 years. "It's interesting for me to see the kids grow. To see what they do in peewee, high school, or to see them now. The kids I coached early on have full time jobs. I coached one kid who I also coached his dad."
Jakobi first joined the Hawks during the late 2000s when the U10/tyke program first kicked off, invited to join the staff by Ken Couchman.
"I actually thought on the first day I was going out to coach the receivers at peewee and Moe (Brennan) said, we really need you down at tyke. They were short coaches starting the tyke program," Jakobi recalled. "Me and Rick Prestage coached together. His son Ricky, who coaches with the Cobras now, was with me my first year. That was when we had 12 or 13 guys in the program."
Then MacQueen joined forces with Jakobi.
"The two of us have been doing this together for a long time," Jakobi said.
MacQueen has a lengthy resume of coaching from the Hawks (15 years) to the Parkside Stampeders high school team to the Forest City Thunderbirds, a summer varsity team.
"It's the kids and developing the game. The part of seeing them grow," MacQueen said. "That's what I find with Johnny. That's why we've stuck together for so long. We don't care abo ut the wins. We care about developing the kids."
Victories have been there for the coaching duo, including a few appearances in the U10/tyke final and a peewee/U14 championship.
The year the Hawks won the peewee title, MacQueen and Jakobi guided the London All-Stars to their first ever win against the Windsor All-Stars.
But the memories that stand out are about the players.
"Seeing them develop. That's the real highlight," MacQueen said. "Seeing the kids out here, growing from little kids to big kids. Then seeing them out in the working world or with bigger teams like in the CFL or NFL or university."
Sydney and Chase Brown, draft picks this year by the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively, Craig Coleman, now with the Western Mustangs, George Dennis, with the London Beefeaters, just a few players coached early in their careers by MacQueen.
Jakobi and MacQueen have coached many youth but never their own children.
"Actually my first year he (John) wouldn't let me coach," laughed MacQueen. "My kids were playing. I went up to atom to coach and then we stuck together."
MacQueen does leave the door open for a possible return to coaching.
"Hopefully, maybe in seven years I'll be back with my grandson," a smiling MacQueen said.
For now the Jakobi and MacQueen will be spending more time with a more relaxing, quiet sport and no kids.
"We will be playing a lot more golf now," MacQueen said.
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