© Herald Photo by Dave Leaderhouse
Prince Albert will have five players trying out for the provincial under-18 football team this weekend with three of those coming from St. Mary High School. Justin Meltingtallow, left, Evan Parchomchuk, centre, and Luke Tkatchuk, along with Carlton's Ryland Gibb and Tanner Pedersen, will all be trying to gain a spot on the final roster for the top provincial team that will compete at the national championship in Saskatoon in early July.
History could be in the making if everything works out the way it is hoped for this weekend when Football Saskatchewan selects its final roster for the upcoming national under-18 championships to be played in Saskatoon in early July.
Prince Albert has had individual players on the provincial squad in previous years, but five locals are in Regina this weekend for one final audition to make the team and all have a realistic shot at securing one of the 40 spots.
“It’s a pretty big thing for these guys,” says St. Mary Marauder head coach Curt Hundeby. “To have three offensive players (from St. Mary) it speaks very well of all the hard work they have put in.”
“That should shed some light on the kind of team we will have next year,” added Hundeby.
Looking to make that final step onto the provincial roster are receiver Evan Parchomchuk and offensive linemen Luke Tkatchuk and Justin Meltintallow from St. Mary while defensive lineman Ryland Gibb and linebacker Tanner Pedersen from the Carlton Crusaders are also in the running for a spot on the team. Pedersen’s status is uncertain as a foot injury earlier this spring has limited his training time, but he is one of the premiere defensive players in the province and should get plenty of attention if he is healthy.
Parchomchuk is the youngest of the group as he will be just going into his Grade 11 year in the fall meaning he still has another shot at the team next year. What makes his rise to the top even more impressive is he just completed his first season of football – at any level – and was the Marauders’ leading receiver.
“I always used to play at Holy Cross in the field and I loved it, but I only went to spring camp at the end of Grade 9 and played last year,” says Parchomchuk, who also mixes volleyball and basketball into his busy schedule.
At the other end of the spectrum is Tkatchuk, who started playing football with the pee wee River Riders and has progressed through the system to gain six years of experience leading up to his senior year in the fall.
“I tried out last year (for the provincial team) and I made it to the second camp, but I hurt my knee and never made the team,” explains Tkatchuk. “It’s sort of a redemption thing I guess.”
Meltingtallow is in the middle with three years of game action under his belt and he feels he is ready for this weekend.
“I’ve been training real hard here in the off-season,” noted Meltingtallow. “I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
All of the local players appear to be physically ready for the challenge of making the team and Parchomchuk notes there are other factors that weigh in on the outcome of the selection camp.
“I think it is huge for my career as a player,” says Parchomchuk, who admits football has bitten him and is his favourite of all his sporting activities. “This gives me a chance to get my name out there.”
Parchomchuk, Tkatchuk, Meltingtallow and Gibb were all participants in the recent Roughrider Bowl held in Regina and from that game were selected to attend the final training camp for the provincial team. Pedersen was also eligible to compete in the elite game, but has just recently gotten the cast removed from his foot.
While seeing their name on the final roster is important, it won’t be the end of the line should they fail this weekend as Saskatchewan will have two teams entered in the national championship since they are the host province.
“Those who don’t make it this weekend will get invited (to tryout) for the other team,” says Tkatchuk.
The national championship will run from July 2-12 at Griffiths Stadium in Saskatoon. There is a real good chance that Prince Albert could play a big part in that event, something that isn’t lost on the local players as they realize Saskatoon and Regina generally dominate the provincial squad.