The Canadian version of football is far different from the American counterpart. The game is more entertaining, there is more scoring and it is more wide open.
That’s when there are 12 players on each side of the ball. Cut that number in half and all of the attributes that make the Canadian game unique are taken to a different level altogether.
“It is way more open,” says PACI Golden Bears head coach Graham McGregor. “It’s a little more obvious if you can’t tackle in this league, you are going to get scored on pretty much every possession.”
The Golden Bears, who work in a co-op arrangement with St. Louis High School to form a team, compete in the Fort Carleton Six-Man Football League. There are seven clubs in the league including Wakaw, Meath Park, Shellbrook, Birch Hills, Rosthern and Aberdeen along with the PACI squad.
The field is narrower and shorter to accommodate the fewer bodies on the field, but another attraction to the game played in this format is that players get to see the game from both sides of the ball.
“Typically, our guys will play more than one position,” says McGregor. “There is a lot of athleticism. Not to knock the 12-man game, but in that game if you are a left tackle, then that is where you play is left tackle. These guys love to play both sides of the ball.”
McGregor, who is being assisted by former Carlton Crusader head coach Troy Semenchuk, Brett Cornelson and Brennan McDonald, has the Golden Bears on the right track after they opened the season last week with a 34-32 win in Wakaw. Now they are preparing for what McGregor believes to be the first-ever six-man game to be played under the lights when they will host Meath Park on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Prime Ministers’ Park.
“It’s a unique opportunity for the kids,” says McGregor. “The kids from the big schools always get to play under the lights and now we get a chance.”
“To be perfectly honest, we like playing our games here,” added McGregor in reference to the field at PACI. “There is something about this place. There are cars driving down the street and when they see a game they stop and watch.”
But, the opportunity to play under the lights was an experience that couldn’t be passed up and to make it an even more special event, McGregor is asking for all alumni of PACI to come to the game on Friday wearing the colors of the Golden Bears.
“We want to pack the park,” says McGregor. “There is a competition between Meath Park, Birch Hills and PACI to see who can have the most fans. If you don’t have the school colors, call the school, we have lots of stuff to sell.”
The interest in football in Prince Albert continues to grow. In its hey day, football games attracted hundreds of fans and this version of the game might return Prince Albert to its gridiron glory.