Even though autumn is a long ways away, Walsh Field was packed Saturday afternoon with high-school football. The Spring Jamboree put on by the Bonnyville Voyageurs played host to six other teams from across the Wheatland Football League and central Alberta.
The design of the tournament is to have players get early touches on the ball before the season begins. The field is split in half with two simulated “games” happening on either side of the field at once.
“It’s a controlled environment, and coaches get to be on the field,” said Bonnyville Voyageurs Coach, Larry Godziuk.
“We have the benefit of a coaching clinic that was held here in town, and we have officials out here learning as well, helping us learn the game better ourselves, so it’s a great experience for everyone.”
Each team runs ten plays in a row then switches from offence to defence, and vice-versa. This allows for more concentrated practise while maintaining a game-type situation. No one is supposed to keep score, but Godziuk says the team is looking good so far.
“We have a pretty veteran team, a lot of Grade 11’s going into Grade 12 and they played pretty well today. We got some of our young kids out on the field for the first time with the high-school team, they played exceptional as well.”
Teams from Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, and St. Albert Catholic High, made the trip to Bonnyville for the event, which gives the Voyageurs a chance to smack the pads against different faces. Local rivals, Cold Lake, St. Paul, Westlock, from the Wheatland Football League also took part.
Although the first game of the season isn’t until the last day of August, there is still a lot for these kids to play for – in many cases it’s a roster spot.
“Right now we’re dealing with a larger roster than usual, so we’re telling a lot of guys it’s competition time,” said Godziuk.
“They have to compete for a position because in some cases we only have two spots for seven guys. We have to decide who’s going to play there and it’s events like this, where in a controlled situation they can do their best – it can help us make some decisions for where to put guys.”
The Voyageurs practice for the next two weeks before going to the Ardrossan Jambouree on June 9.