For the first time in the team’s 25 year history, the Strathmore High School (SHS) Spartans football team is headed to the provincial finals.
The Spartans took on H J Cody High School, from Sylvan Lake in Red Deer on Nov. 19, claiming a 48-31 victory in the semi-finals.
“We got off to a really good start. We were leading them 24-7 at halftime. We let them creep back in a little bit – they got hot on offense like we expected, and they ended up making it a closer game than I thought it was,” said head coach, Danny Warrack. “Our offensive line really took over in the fourth quarter and our special teams as well and we ended up getting a couple more touchdowns that secured the victory.”
According to Warrack, the game was never not in the Spartans’ favour, though the closest points gap between the two teams closed to a mere seven points.
Regarding his team’s overall performance, he added it was some of their best that he has seen out of the boys all season.
“Our run game had his best game of the year, and our offensive line played really well. And then guys like Jacob and Jaden Robson and Brady Johansson were able to run behind our own line with ease,” he said. “We had five rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. So, it was a pretty good game.”
Coming into the provincial finals, the Spartans will be squaring off against the Holy Rosary Raiders, hailing from Lloydminster.
Warrack added he is aware of a few things the boys need to practice and fix up coming into the finals to give them the best chance possible at victory.
“I think we have to get our pass game shored up a little bit, and then our defense,” he said. “I thought they did well in pass coverage … so we have to smarten that up a little bit.”
This year will mark the seventh in a row that the Holy Rosary Raiders have made an appearance at the provincial finals, though they have been defeated in the last six.
Warrack said both teams will be coming out with everything they have, wanting to take home the win come game time.
“I know our guys … there is a lot of belief in that locker room and a lot of buy-in, and that means something,” he said. “I think you can play a little above your abilities when you really believe.”
Leading up to the semi final game, the Spartans squeaked out a win over Crescent Heights School, hailing from Medicine Hat.
According to Warrack, his team was tailing though most of the quarterfinals, only overtaking Crescent Heights in the bottom of the fourth quarter.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the Spartans were ranked sixth in the province coming into provincials.
The finals will take place Friday, Nov. 25 at Shouldice Park in Calgary. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times