As Hec Crighton winner Kyle Quinlan talked with reporters for one of the last times as quarterback of the McMaster Marauders earlier this week, his teammate, roommate and close friend Brad Fochesato stood a few feet away, taking it all in.
Fochesato then was asked if he remembered the first time the two Windsor, Ont. area natives met. Fochesato is from LaSalle, Quinlan was born in South Woodslee.
"It was on the field, I guess," said Fochesato, one of the Marauders go-to receivers. "We were playing pee-wee football against one another. I played some defensive line back then. He was even a tall lanky kid back then and he could sling it.
"We were only 10 or 11 then, and I knew our team was in trouble as soon as I saw him throw a pass. Who knew that all these years later he would become my best friend?"
There is a possibility Quinlan and Fochesato will continue to play together in the CFL one day, but considering they both went undrafted in their draft year last year the chances of that happening are slim.
So when the top-ranked Marauders attempt to successfully defend their Vanier Cup national championship against the No. 2 Laval Rouge et Or at Rogers Centre on Friday, it likely will be the final time we see a Quinlan-to-Fochesato completion.
"We've tried to keep this like a normal week," the fourth-year Fochesato said. "But I think it will really set in when that game is over and the weekend is over. Then we can sit back together and reminisce about all the great things we've accomplished together in our careers.
"If for some reason the partnership would extend into the CFL I would be more than ecstatic. Kyle may get an opportunity [he attended training camp of the Montreal Alouettes], but this is probably it for me. But we're not looking that far ahead with such a big game this week."
The first big game they played on the same side was later that summer they first met. Fochesato and Quinlan were named to their pee-wee league all-star team. With that honour came a trip to Pittsburgh for a game and Quinlan-to-Fochesato, quarterback-to-receiver connection was born.
Over the next few years, they spent summers as junior football teammates on the Essex Ravens and falls competing against one another on different high school teams. Quinlan suited up for Cardinal Carter. Fochesato, who is 10 months younger, went to Sandwich.
When it came time to go to university, Quinlan committed to McMaster, but his buddy intended on going to Western. Two weeks later that changed, when Quinlan cajoled Fochesato to at least join him on a visit to Hamilton to see McMaster.
"I hounded him," the 23-year-old Quinlan said. "I told him that he should take this next step in our football careers together."
So they did and they have spent so much time together ever since. They have even remained in Hamilton the past few summers in order to work out together in the gym and on the gridiron. They also live together in an off-campus house on Sterling Ave., just two blocks from McMaster with a couple other teammates.
McMaster has plenty of offensive weapons. That's one of the reasons why the Marauders have won a Canadian university record 21 in a row, that's why they are the defending champions after a memorable 41-38 double overtime win over Laval in the thrilling title game a year ago.
But there are sometimes Fochesato returns to the huddle and 6-foot-3, 210-pound Quinlan, an economics major, and his 6-foot-2, 205-pound receiver give each other a look, and something magical happens. Like last week, when they hooked up for a 61-yard, second-quarter score that busted the Mitchell Bowl against Calgary wide open.
"I think it's been beneficial we know each other so well," Fochesato, a political science student, said. "We feed off each other."
And Friday will be the closing act.
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