It’s time for playoff football.
The Bonnyville Voyageurs finished off the regular season 4-2 in Wheatland Football League play, but were forced to forfeit Thursday’s game against the Holy Rosary Raiders due to injury issues.
It sets up a playoff matchup against the Lloydminster Comp Barons who the Voyageurs battled to a close 22-21 defeat earlier this season.
“We had a couple of players coming back from sprains and bruises and bangs, so we went into Westlock with 25 guys only and then only came out with 21 healthy guys,” said Voyageurs head coach Larry Godziuk.
The rematch against the Barons could be a chance for the Voyageurs to avenge a loss where the Lloydminster school elected to kick the ball into the endzone at the end of the fourth quarter for a rouge, the game-winning point.
“There were lots of turning points in that game where one team could have certainly won by a bunch and one team could have lost by a bunch, but we played a pretty tough game,” said Godziuk.
“The guys were kind of the little engine that could. They’re staring at our bench of 26 players and wondering why a team with 40 plus players had to struggle to pull out the win. But I credit our guys. They like to say they didn’t play all that well, but I thought that we played exceptionally well, forced turnovers and we forced them on a couple of turnover on downs.
“Offensively, I thought that we ran the ball well. Duncan Critch had a good game giving us lots of opportunities to stay on the field.”
Critch’s first season of high school football has seen him adjust nicely to the elevated game. If the Voyageurs are to have success this post-season, expect him to have a big impact.
“He leads by example on the field and he’s playing both ways which he doesn’t get to do on the provincial level. He’s certainly one of the best players to go through our program,” said Godziuk.
The top four teams in the Wheatland league have been very competitive against each other.
In the other semi-final, the Holy Rosary Raiders host the St. Paul Lions. If the Voyageurs win on Friday against Lloyd Comp, they’d need to defeat the Raiders in order to compete provincially in Tier-3.
“We’ve been preaching to the boys, trust in our coaches, trust in the system we want to play under and we’ll make adjustments as we go along and they really bought in this year. I think that’s contributed to our success and its a pretty tight group this year. Like a small family, everybody’s there to support them, whatever the situation is and it’s been fantastic.”