There is still a lot that has to be decided as the high school football season enters the final week of the regular schedule.
Carlton Crusaders, despite having a far better record overall than the St. Mary Marauders, must still win this Friday’s Canadian Tire Classic in the battle of Prince Albert’s 4A football teams in order to qualify for the playoffs.
Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Gold Bears, who had a bye last week, will be in Rosthern on Thursday with a victory in that game going a long way in where they will be seeded when the Fort Carleton Six Man Football League playoffs begin next week.
Following is summary of how the local teams – high school and minor league - did last week and a brief look at what lies ahead.
The Crusaders got rushing touchdowns from Jullian Bird and Dustin Shier and a two-point convert from Scott Pichula en route to a 14-11 triumph over Marion Graham on a cold and rainy Friday night at Prime Ministers’ Park.
The win improves the Crusaders’ record to 3-3, but with just games against 4A opponents counting in the standings to determine the eight playoff combatants, Carlton has but a single victory, a 41-7 triumph over Mount Royal.
That means that the game on Friday against St. Mary is for the final playoff berth and even though the Marauders have two fewer wins, they can still advance with a win in the head-to-head match-up.
“It’s a great experience for the kids to play in a game of that atmosphere,” says Carlton head coach Rylan Michalchuk. “We’re getting better each week and we’ve had quite a few injuries, but we’re getting healthy at the right time.”
“It’s really exciting that the community is rallying around football,” added Michalchuk in reference to ceremonies scheduled for Friday to commemorate the Friday Night Lights project that put lighting in place so that night games could be played in the city. “It puts us on a bigger stage and let’s people see how good our kids are. More kids might want to come out and play in the future too.”
St. Mary Marauders
St. Mary lost for the fourth straight time when Aden Bowman recorded an 18-2 triumph in Saskatoon last Thursday.
Bryant Sackney paced the Marauders’ offense with 10 carries for 53 yards and the versatile back also hauled in a pair of tosses for 13 more yards. Cody Sjogren led the St. Mary defence with six tackles and August Skrudland completed 10 passes for 77 yards, but he also threw a pair of interceptions.
St. Mary’s lone victory this year – their record is 1-5 overall - was against North Battleford so as it stands they have no points in the 4A standings. However, a win against Carlton would leapfrog them past the Crusaders as they would have the edge in the first tie-breaker, results from head-to-head meetings.
Bantam River Riders
Destiny was in their hands, but twice they let it slip away as the bantam River Riders dropped a pair of games this week to fall out of the race for first place in the overall standings.
On Wednesday in Saskatoon, the River Riders faced the top-ranked Schoenhals Titans, but a 20-8 setback left the River Riders with second place as their best possible result. That, too, evaporated when the Tinkler Raiders jumped to a 28-1 lead at half time and then hung on for a 35-19 victory on the final day of the regular schedule on Sunday at Prime Ministers’ Park.
The results leave the River Riders with a 4-2-2 record and will qualify the local club for the post season for the first time ever, but they will have to go through the top two teams to extend their season.
Schoenhals finished the season in first place followed by Tinkler and the River Riders could claim third place, but one final game between the Ledingham Steelers and Arns Falcons must be played before the final two spots are settled. The River Riders, who can finish no worse than fourth, have beaten the Steelers and tied the Falcons during the regular season. If they finish fourth, they will meet Schoenhals on Sunday and if they finish third, they will take on Tinkler, also on Sunday. Either match-up will be played in Saskatoon.
Jordan Solomon scored all the points for the River Riders in the loss to Schoenhals on Wednesday and on Sunday, the River Riders got touchdowns from Ethan Pederson and Shelton Paul. Landon Aimoe had a two-point convert and got the remaining points on punt singles.
Pee Wee River Riders
The regular season came to an end for the pee wee River Riders when they lost 40-0 to the Tinkler Raiders on Sunday at Prime Ministers’ Park.
Despite going winless in seven starts, River Riders coach Wendell Whitter says the team accomplished what it set out to do.
“We’re a young team and they are only going to get better,” said Whitter. “In pee wee if we win a game it is gravy. We enjoy seeing the kids on the bantam team come through the pee wee division and there are a lot of kids on high school teams that played here too.”
“It’s all about skill development at this level,” says Whitter.
The pee wee River Riders will compete in relegation bowl games to complete the season. With nine teams in the division, the three teams with the lowest records will play a series of mini games while the higher-ranked clubs will vie for the championship. The River Riders will meet the Arns Falcons and one other club yet to be determined with the wind-up games scheduled for Saskatoon beginning next weekend.