Bonnyville Bandits players hoist the league championship trophy after their 58-6 win against St. Paul Saturday. Image provided by http://gamereadyphotography.com
Perfect and victorious.
The Bonnyville Bandits did not let up and defeated the St. Paul Bengals 58-6 to win the Wheatland Football League’s bantam championship.
They played at a breakneck pace and scored early and often, as they have all season long.
“It’s a year after getting beat in overtime and feels really good. The kids were building up to this. We’ve got two more stages to go. But we brought it, we brought the heat. I think if you were on the sidelines you’d see the energy with our association,” said Bandits coach Mickey Fagnan.
“I can’t be more proud of the kids and the coaching staff. This is what we teach and this is the result. This is the byproduct I guess of buying into our system.”
One of the most incredible highlights you’ll see happened during the third quarter with the Bandits already leading 44-0. Duncan Critch blows through the line of scrimmage into the backfield and snatches the ball from the quarterback as he’s handing it off.
“That looked like an NFL play. I’d never seen that before. It was like Duncan didn’t even think…that’s a credit to our defensive play caller Robbie Cole. The plays he calls are varied, and you see what happens. The plays he has are fine-tuned. The defense played tremendous today,” said Fagnan.
St. Paul fought to get into the final with only two starters back from last season’s championship team. They upset Lloydminster last weekend, but didn’t have the “mental toughness” to stand up to Bonnyville, said Coach Todd Tanasichuk.
“We wanted to play better than we did again. For whatever reason this year when we played Bonnyville we just weren’t as mentally tough as were against the other teams,” said Tanasichuk.
“I’m very proud of our kids. We had two returning starters from last year and we still made it to the championship game. We’re proud of how far we came, would’ve been better if we could’ve stuck with them longer for the day. But they’re a good football team obviously, so hats off to them.”
The win means Bonnyville is now hunting for provincial honours.
Their next test is Friday at 5pm against the Grande Prairie Broncos. The Broncos won their league championship 69-19, but the weather should be more seasonal as the forecast shows a high of -5 degrees.
“Obviously they can put points on the board. If we can get past that then we’d go south to the provincial gold medal match, and beyond that, this just happened two days ago I got a call from Football Alberta, they want us to play the top Tier I or II team from the city. Whatever the result is next weekend, they still feel we can matchup pretty well,” said Fagnan.
Fagnan says they had that opportunity in 2015, but didn’t seize it. That game would be likely against Leduc or Sherwood Park and could take place Grey Cup weekend in Edmonton (Nov. 24-25).