The St. Paul Bengals are the Wheatland Bantam Football League Champions, after defeating rivals, the Bonnyville Bandits in an intense match on Saturday. The game needed extra time to declare the Bengals the winner, 13-7, over the Bandits.
It was a glory season for the clubs, who other than each other, both went undefeated. The Bengals lost to the Bandits in the regular season, then continued their undefeated streak all the way to the championship game. Whereas, the Bandits went the entire season without a loss, only to lose in the most important game of the season.
“Obviously, we’ve had a strong season,” Head Coach, of the St. Paul Bengals, Todd Tanasichuk, says the club has been preparing for this game all season, “we came here three weeks ago. It was a back and forth battle.” The coach said going into the game he expected a battle between the top two teams in the league, and that’s what the crowd got. “Both teams deserve to be here. I’m very proud of my players and what they’ve been able to accomplish. I’m a tough coach, I’m a demanding coach and they know that; yet we haven’t had one quitter. They come out and try to get better every day.”
Three week back, it was on Walsh Field that the Bandits defeated the Bengals 19-14. Both teams were revved for the challenge and it could’ve went either way. Saturday’s match was no different in the intensity and preparation. Bonnyville scored at 7:04 in the second. The Bengals had the crowd on the edge of their seats, waiting until 4:51 in the fourth, and the kick for the conversion just made it over the bar. After 60 minutes of play, the game was tied 7-7, and went into two mini-games style overtime; in which the Bengals would prove to be victorious.
“It feels great, the kids are ecstatic! What better way to win it, than in overtime?” Assistant Coach Zap, of the St. Paul Bengals, says it felt so good to see the kids raise the cup above their heads at the end of a long game. After regulation, the game was tied 7-7, Zap says the message heading into overtime was not to let up, “keep playing strong. Our defense was shutting them down, they weren’t moving the ball very much in the second half. We know that if we kept on them, we’d be able to take them down.” And that they did.
St. Paul won the overtime flip and took possession for the first min-game at the 35 yard line. They were able to move the ball up to the goal line. Quarterback, #14, Ethan Boisclair ran it in for a touchdown. The team missed the extra point.
Bonnyville then had a chance to match the play, also starting at the 35 yard line. The Bengals were successful in shutting them down and taking the win. Head coach, of the Bandits, Mickey Fagnan, says he’s proud of the effort shown, “both teams played well. There’s was a lot of action back and forth. It was basically a run game. We missed a few blocks and tackles, that really cost us. In overtime, it’s anybody’s ball. It looked like we had them pinned deep, but their guy snuck through.” Despite the loss, Fagnan is happy to see such growth in the team, throughout the season. “Overall, the season was fantastic. I’m not disappointed at all, in how our young people bonded. It’s not about winning, it’s about life principles.”
The Bengals will head to Grande Prairie or Sexsmith (depending on the outcome in the north). If the Bengals are successful next weekend, they will host Provincials the weekend of 24-26th.