It was a week of disappointment and finality for several local football teams, but for one the road took an unexpected turn for the better.
The bantam River Riders, Carlton Crusaders and Prince Albert Central Collegiate Golden Bears all had their seasons come to an end while the St. Mary Marauders won when it mattered most and will now play this week in the first round of the Saskatoon High School football playoffs.
Following is a round-up of what took place on the gridiron in the past seven days.
St. Mary Marauders/Carlton Crusaders
Having lost their last four games, the Marauders still had a chance to qualify for the post season if they beat the Carlton Crusaders in the inaugural Canadian Tire Classic on Friday at the newly minted Max Clunie Field in Prime Ministers’ Park.
They did what they had to do.
Bryant Sackney scored three touchdowns and George Leberio added a field goal as the Marauders defeated Carlton 24-14 to slip past the Crusaders into the final playoff spot and a date with Saskatoon’s Holy Cross in the opening round.
Jullian Bird and Devereau Gatin had Carlton’s majors, but despite having a better record than their cross-town rivals, their season is over. Carlton was 3-4 and St. Mary was 2-5, but it was their records against 4A opponents that mattered and the Marauders got the edge with Friday’s head-to-head victory.
“The wet and cold weather wasn’t the best conditions for us,” said Carlton head coach Rylan Michalchuk. “We dropped five balls that normally we would have caught and they capitalized on our mistakes.”
There were actually three teams battling for the final two playoff spots, but a complicated tie-breaking formula put Walter Murray from Saskatoon in seventh and St. Mary in eighth. Carlton was ninth, just ahead of Mount Royal, also from Saskatoon.
The playoff match between St. Mary and Holy Cross will be a rematch from last year’s semifinals which Holy Cross won 44-0. The two teams also met once this year, with Holy Cross once again dominating by a 61-8 count.
Bantam River Riders
The bantam River Riders couldn’t get their offense untracked when they needed it most and the result was a 24-0 loss to the Schoenhals Titans in semifinal action of the Saskatoon Kinsmen Minor Football League on Sunday.
The River Riders, who qualified for the playoffs for the first time ever, ended the season with three straight losses after opening the campaign with a 3-0-2 record.
A win over the Titans, who had beaten the River Riders 20-8 two weeks ago, would have put Prince Albert into the championship game next week. Schoenhals will now face the Tinkler Raiders to determine the champion.
PACI Golden Bears
A promising start came to an unceremonious conclusion on Thursday when the Golden Bears lost 72-19 to Rosthern in Fort Carleton Six-Man Football League action.
Wendell Halkett-Lafond had two touchdowns for the Golden Bears, who opened the season with three straight victories before losing their final three outings and ultimately missing the playoffs. Landon Lajeunesse also had a touchdown for the Gold Bears with Halkett-Lafond leading the defence with nine tackles.
Pee Wee River Riders
The pee wee River Riders were idle this week after going winless during eight starts in the regular season and they will finish up the year with a pair of mini “bowl” games on Wednesday in Saskatoon. They will play the Warman Wolverines at 6:15 p.m. and the Arns Falcons at 8 p.m. with both games to be played at TCU Field.