St. Albert Minor Football's Peewee Riders and Bantam 49ers found their way into the win column over the weekend.
The Riders went up against the Sherwood Park Wolverines in a close matchup. The Wolverines, who came into the game undefeated, posed a challenge for the Riders.
The two teams traded touchdowns all game long when it came to the final minutes of the fourth quarter, with the Wolverines holding a slight lead. The Riders were able to cut that lead with a touchdown of their own and, on the ensuing Wolverine possession, Rider safety Dillon White was able to intercept the ball.
With the ball now in their hands and in good field position, the Riders took control. They scored on a trick play to take the lead 46-43.
With about a minute-and-a-half left in the game, the Wolverines struck back. White came up with another huge play as he stripped the ball away from a Wolverine player to give the Riders possession once again. The team ran out the clock to secure the 46-43 victory and move to 3-1 on the season.
Riders quarterback, Kai Andersen had a great game, throwing four touchdown passes and running in another. Isaac Vandegriend was a standout. He ran in a monster 32-yard touchdown while offensive lineman Maguire Woods fought to a five-yard game-winning touchdown in the dying minutes.
Head coach Geoffrey Richer said he was super proud of how his team played, especially against a team as strong as Sherwood Park.
“I told the team that I was proud of the heart they showed and the toughness,” said Richer. “There were a couple of players who fought through injuries and in the end they showed a lot of heart in that fourth quarter.
“It was pretty emotional for all the players and coaches by the end of the game.”
The Riders are set to take on another challenging team this Sunday as they head to Fort Saskatchewan to wrestle with the Falcons.
Over on the bantam side of things, the 49ers opened their season with a game against the West Edmonton Raiders. It was another back-and-forth affair that saw the two teams play to a 14-14 tie after the first half.
The second half is where things blew open, as the 49ers scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to make it a 40-14 game. The Raiders fought as they cut the lead to 40-27, but it wasn't enough. The 49ers stayed a few steps ahead as they waltzed to a high-scoring 53-34 victory to improve to 1-0 on the season.
Bantam 49ers quarterback Kai Andersen threw five touchdown passes, ran in another, and made a successful kick-return for an illustrious night. Darius Crandell saw a lot of the ball, catching three touchdowns while Elijah Thomas caught another two.
Ty Kohut ran for 100 yards and was able to pick up a touchdown in the process. This made the 49ers an offensive threat all game long.
On the defensive end of the ball, the 49ers were stingy as they defended against an aggressive Raiders attack. They were led by fantastic efforts from Ainsley Stadnik, Jack Demeter, Hudson Lesanko, Erik David, Jack Harrison, and Hudson Enjenski.
Head coach Martin Quirk said it was a great way to kick off the season and he hopes the team can continue to improve.
“We’ve come a long way since we started back in August, but we still have work to do in terms of not being complacent and just improving and developing,” said Quirk. “It’s a long season and we can’t take one game and mail in the rest of the games ... We have to refocus and get ready for Fort Mac this weekend.”
The 49ers will look to improve their record to 2-0 this Sunday as they welcome the Fort McMurray Ravens to Larry Olexiuk field.