Bonnyville – Cold Lake showdown keeps the rivalry alive
The Cold Lake Bantam Royals welcomes the Bonnyville Bandits to Soholt Field on Saturday afternoon for a classic rivalry game. Head Coach of the Bonnyville Bandits, Mickey Fagnan, says he knew Cold Lake’s football club was in a rebuilding stage and decided to play his second string right off the start. It proved successful with the Bandits walking away with a 46-6 win.
“We started our non-starters.” Fagnan explains the second and third string kids started the game and played the whole third quarter before he made any subs. “It was a good opportunity for them to come to the plate and know that they’re up off the initial whistle.” The coach really wanted to see what the team could do without building up points from the first string off the start. “They have to come out swinging. They were pretty excited about getting there.”
The mentality of the Bonnyville Amateur Football Association is to build up the entire organization, which starts at Peewee and carries onto Bantams and then High School. “You don’t want to have those drop offs that you see in Cold Lake. They’re going into their third year of [rebuilding], they bottomed out a few years ago and haven’t been able to rebuild yet. We really try to avoid that.” There’s a lot of factors involved, says the coach, fundamentals are one; which the Renegades help build in the younger players. Cold Lake does not have a peewee team.
It’s really key in practices to make sure all the kids are prepared, should they need to go on the field or if the coach decides to play a second string kid. “When you look at it, we have six hours of practice, every week. We demand, expect and foster,” Fagnan explains a lot of focus is put into practices because you have six hours compared to one hour on the field at a game. “It’s the way the kids improve and excel.”
“There are some key games coming up and we’re deemed to put the best team on the field. It’s not equal play, equal time. It’s not the way we work,” the kids understand football is different from other sports in that respect. “On the field you have seven hours, and only one is during a game. That’s what we try to teach the kids. Here’s your six hours of practice, show us something that would make us want to put you in.” Of course it has a lot to do with aptitude and attitude, but when it comes to games, like the one against Cold Lake Royals, if you’ve practiced hard, you’ll go in.
One exercise Fagnan just loves, because it shows the pure intensity of a kid is the “chicken run”. Fagnan makes three lines of relay racers, and gives them a rubber chicken as a baton. “I’m amazed at how fast, how competitive, these kids are with a chicken in their hands! We try to emulate that on the football field, because it’s really something to watch how these kids are competitive against each other. Maybe I gotta bring the chickens out to the game!”
It’s not for food, it’s not for gifts… it’s just the personal pride of winning! -Mickey Fagnan Bonnyville Bantam Bandits