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Minor football honours most-improved players

Lukas Pyker wins award for bantam 49ers
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Lukas Pyka was named the Darryl Moroz most-improved player for the bantam 49ers. SUPPLIED/Photo

The St. Albert Minor Football Association (SAMFA) announced the first recipients of the Darryl Moroz most-improved player award last week. 

Lukas Pyker of the 49ers and Lance Landayan of the Fury took home the award for the two bantam teams. Cohan Henderson of the Riders and Krosby Phelan of the Colts were awarded for the SAMFA peewee division. 

The award recognizes the most-improved football player from each bantam and peewee team. The winners are not only honoured with the title of most improved player but also receive paid admission to a University of Alberta training camp over the winter. 

SAMFA president Martin Quirk said the idea of the award stemmed from wanting to help players develop their skills. 

“We talked about ways to get development for players,” said Quirk. “I mentioned that we should create an award for the most-improved player, and I thought about how Darryl’s contributions to SAMFA, youth football, and amateur football have been substantial.” 

Quirk also coaches the bantam 49ers and had only positive things to say about his team’s award winner, Lukas Pyker. 

“He’s a big, tall kid. Last year he played defensive end, and this year during the flag season we identified that he can catch the ball and we put him as our tight end,” said Quirk. “We ran a complicated and sophisticated offence this year and his role was just as large as the quarterback's was.” 

Geoffrey Richer was the coach of the peewee Riders this season and had a lot to say about his team’s winner, Cohen Henderson. 

“He was our wide receiver and started out the year as the second smallest guy on the team,” said Richer. “At the beginning of the year he didn’t know how to catch a ball or run a route and by the end of the year he was probably one of the best receivers and definitely the most reliable one.”  

The namesake for the award has a storied history in the community. Moroz has been a fixture in St. Albert sports for more than a decade. Before coming to SAMFA in 2006, he spent his time coaching baseball in the community. Moroz has had three sons go through SAMFA over the years and played a pivotal part in running the association’s midget program. 

“I had three of my sons play football for SAMFA,” said Moroz. “I ended up taking over the midget program in 2010, which is for players who graduated from bantam and are on their way to high school, so it ends up being a team that plays in the spring.

“I ran that for at least 10 or 11 years.” 

The name of the game for Moroz is skill development. He said he has been a big proponent of allowing both time and opportunity for kids to develop their football skills. While Moroz said he is honoured to have his name attached to the award, he is more excited about what the award will do for the kids. 

“My first thought [upon hearing about the award] was, 'Bravo to SAMFA for putting up an opportunity for these four kids to get more training,'” said Moroz. “More than my name being attached to it, I’m more excited for those kids because ultimately that’s what it's all about. 

“I’m honoured of course that they assigned my name to the award and I appreciate the hard work that the SAMFA board does.” 

The award marks the official end of the minor football season in St. Albert. Those four players will enjoy some time at a training camp sometime over the winter as they prepare to come back even better for the 2022 fall season.