The Wheatland Bantam Football League kicked off the season with the annual Jamboree hosted by the Bonnyville Bandits. All five teams, Cold Lake, St. Paul, two teams from Lloydminster and Bonnyville, met at Walsh Field on Saturday August 29th.
“It’s jamboree style,” coach of the Bandits, Dan Jubinville explains, “you play half-field – half-field. So one team takes from the 40 to the goal line and the other team takes the other direction 40 to the field line. You play two sets of offensive plays and two sets of defensive plays.” Coach Jubinville says he was pleased with the Bandits performance opening weekend, “the boys did very well. We completed lots of passes and lots of runs.”
Last season the Bandits went to the semi-finals and unfortunately lost, Coach Jubinville says there was a number of factors involved in the loss, “we had a lot of key injuries late in the season.” Despite the loss, Jubinville was happy with the results last season and says there’s 16 returning players to the squad this year.
The jamboree served as a perfect opportunity for Coach Jubinville to scope out the competition and says there’s one team, other than the Bandits, that are looking very good this season, “the Lloyd Chargers had one of the stronger teams.” The strength has a lot to do with the population differences between the two communities, Lloyd is able to draw in more players, in fact they have two teams in the league.
Bonnyville started a Peewee squad last season, the Renegades, which has helped the Bandits. Players are able to gain a foundation at the Peewee level and when they move onto the Bantams they already have the fundamentals, explains Jubinville. “When you go from Peewee to Bantam to High School, it’s all different types of football. The speed and the accuracy of the game chances lots. There’s a definate difference from Peewee to Bantam and a little bit of a difference from Bantam to High School.”
“In Peewee they’re learning the game, just getting introduce into it. It’s not as robust of a game,” Jubinville describes the differences between each level, “whereas when you get into Bantams, that’s when you’re really getting into seeing the plays. Guys really have to do their jobs, not everybody else’s jobs. So it’s really a higher level than Peewee.” This is where the Bandits are at an advantage having the Peewee Renegades, says Jubinville, “getting them from the Renegades, they have the basic part of the game, then we just have to make them better. Teach them a faster paced game.”
The Jamboree opens up the regular season, for The Wheatland Bantam Football League, with regular games being played out this upcoming weekend. However, the Bandits have their by this weekend and will play their season and home opener on the 12th at Walsh Field in Bonnyville at 1:00pm verses the Lloydminster Chargers. You can follow the team along on their Facebook page, Bonnyville Bandits.