St. Paul Bengals coach Todd Tanasichuk may be a pessimist about most things, but when it comes to football he’s an optimist through and through.
The Bengals have already registered 38 kids for the bantam football season this spring, and Tanasichuk says they still have room for more, as long as those kids are in Grades 7, 8, and 9.
“We’ve capped it off as far as the Grade 6s, we have a lot of Grade 6s already. And that comes with concerns about playing time plus I’m like ‘Oh boy, I don’t know if I’ve got enough small equipment,’” said Tanasichuk.
The St. Paul Bengals did play a shortened touch football season last fall because of the COVID-19 protocols, but at this point they are planning for full contact play in the spring. According to Tanasichuk, the Wheatland Bantam Football League, which also includes Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Wainwright, and Lloydminster has a five-game season planned starting May 1.
“We’ll each get two home games and two away games, and then a play off. So we’ll be done by June 19 at the latest is the plan,” said Tanasichuk noting there are no plans for provincials this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the province’s current stage two re-opening guidelines demand a maximum of 10 people per cohort for youth sports, physical distancing during practice, and prohibit games between groups Tanasichuk said the local league and Football Alberta are hopeful stage three will include new parameters including larger cohorts and permission for games.
“If everything went well I believe it’s mid-April when we’d hit stage four. Everything would have to hit well and be allowed in that way, but in the fall we were allowed to play games within our cohorts,” said Tanasichuk. He said the discussions they’ve had are hopeful things will be similar to what was in place in the fall before the second wave by spring. In the fall, they were able to have some spectators at the outdoor games.
“We’ll have to see what it all means as far as us being able to be in the clubhouse. It might be we have to have the kids coming to practice dressed. We’re flying by the seat of our pants and we’ll adjust as needed but we’re quite excited about it,” said Tanasichuk.
The Bengals are scheduled to kick off their season against Bonnyville on May 1 at 1 p.m. They will be at home against Cold Lake the evening of May 21, and against Wainwright in the evening May 28.
“We haven’t confirmed the exact time yet, but they’ve both said they want to play on the Friday nights,” said Tanasichuk.