St. Paul and Cold Lake host high school football playoff games Friday night.
The St. Paul Lions are hoping to punch their ticket as the area representative for Tier IV provincial football and the first step toward that goal is tonight at Regional Field.
The Lions (3-2) come into the game as the Wheatland Football League’s 3rd seed and host the Bonnyville Voyageurs. With a win already against the Wainwright Commandos this season, they have the edge to earn the birth, which could be secured with a victory against Bonnyville. If not, they’d be eliminated from league and provincial playoffs.
“We’re taking it really serious because it’s one of those when you hit the playoffs, you win you go on, you lose you’re done,” said coach Mark Tichkowsky.
These two teams played head-to-head a couple weeks ago with St. Paul earning a big 43-0. Every game the Lions have played has ended in a shutout (48-0, 43-0, and 29-0 wins against Cold Lake, Bonnyville, and Wainwright and 46-0 and 11-0 defeats to Holy Rosary and Lloyd Comp), which Tichkowsky agrees is a bit unique.
“I just wish we’re the ones with the shutout,” he said laughing.
“But we have a good group of Grade 10s and 11s on defense and it seems to be that they get it and they’re physical and they’re fast. So that’s one of our strengths for sure.”
Six players are seniors on this Lions team, and Tichkowsky said several of them are those critical situation players who come up with their big plays. While still a young team progressing into the high-school game, the learning curve hasn’t been so steep.
“It was kind of hard at the beginning of the year. No one, even coaches haven’t been on the field and you’re always thinking back to the past of where we were, and that’s where we’re hoping to be. But we had to take a step back and regroup and get our players up to speed to high school football too, because a lot of them haven’t played high school football from Bantam,” said Tichkowsky.
In the last full season in 2019, the Lions won the Tier IV North Final en route to a Provincial silver medal. Asked whether he thinks this year’s group could have that kind of success, Tichkowsky said time will tell.
“It’s kind of one of those weird years where you don’t know what you have until what you face I guess. It’s hard to tell. You know, we have some good players. And when we compare teams from the past, are we at that level? I’m not sure yet. We’re still growing each week, so we’re still pretty young and green.
Kickoff is 7pm at Regional Field.
Royals host Commandos
The Cold Lake Royals (2-3) who finished in the 4th seed in Wheatland Football League will host the Wainwright Commandos (1-4) at Tom Varghese Field on Friday evening.
Three weeks ago, the Royals got past the Commandos 41-32 in a tight back and forth affair.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7pm.
Bantam playoffs begin this weekend
The Bonnyville Bandits after finishing first in the north will host the second placed team in the south in the St. Paul Bengals this Saturday at Walsh Field.
The Cold Lake Rams will then go to Lloydminster in their semifinal matchup.
The Bonnyville Renegades host the Lloydminster Steelers on Sunday afternoon at 1PM at Walsh Field.
The Cold Lake Rams will travel to Lloydminster to play the Colts.