The Sturgeon Spirits continue to haunt the Paul Kane Blues.
The latest in a long line of victories by the Big Red Machine against Paul Kane was Thursday’s 56-0 shellacking at the St. Albert Rugby Football Club.
Last year Sturgeon blasted Paul Kane 51-5 and 48-0.
“Obviously we’re not happy with the result. They’re our biggest rivals,” said Krysta Florence, a Grade 11 Paul Kane scrum-half. “We’ll be ready next time. We’ll want it that much more.”
Sturgeon refused to take Paul Kane for granted despite its recent domination. Last year’s metro Edmonton premier champions and tier I (4A schools) provincial bronze medallists have not suffered a loss in league play since the 2008 premier final, a 10-5 win by Paul Kane against the 2006 and 2007 premier winners.
“We came out really nervous. We heard they had a good team and we didn’t know what to expect,” said Sturgeon co-captain Tamara Farmer. “They definitely didn’t give us the game.”
At stake was first place in the north pool and first round bye in the premier playoffs. The top three teams in the north and south pools form the premier bracket. The premier champion also qualifies for the June 11 and 12 provincials at Fort MacLeod. Last year’s bronze medal was Sturgeon’s best showing at provincials after finishing sixth at the inaugural 2006 championship and fourth in 2007.
“We’re hoping that this is our year. Our goal is to win provincials,” said Farmer, 17, a Grade 12 standoff with speed to burn.
With one game to go before the playoffs, Sturgeon has yet to surrender a point in three wins while racking up 156 points.
“We’ve improved a lot since the beginning of the season. Every game we get so much better,” said Farmer, a valuable returning player from the team that lost only one game in 2009, 10-3 to Strathcona in the pool A round robin draw at provincials. “We’re just as strong as last year.”
In Tuesday’s north/south exhibition crossover, Sturgeon routed the Bev Facey Falcons 84-0 as Spirits’ junior girls played the second half.
“They’ve got to play in a lot of games and they’re improving so much,” Farmer said. “Everyone is getting a chance to play, which is awesome.”
Going into Thursday’s showdown Paul Kane was coming off its third straight win, 30-0 over the winless Fort Saskatchewan Sting. Carmen Chornell led the attack Tuesday with two tries. Also scoring tries were Kelsey McDonald, Sabrina Kelly, Seaneen Passek (set up by an unselfish play by Thea Rachinski) and Florence.
“We came into the game very confident. We knew Sturgeon felt they could beat us but we felt the same way too,” Florence said. “Obviously they defeated us but we still played strong. We kept our spirits up the whole time. We didn’t let ourselves get down.”
It was a done deal at halftime, with Sturgeon leading by 29 points on five tries and two conversions.
“With our offensive line we have this thing called magic and it worked really well today. Our passing was good too,” Farmer said. “Our defensive line was awesome as well. They couldn’t get through us.”
Sturgeon opened the scoring in the fifth minute and didn’t stop until its 10th try ended the match.
“We played a stronger first half but a lot of our players did get injured [including all-star eight-man Sabrina Kelly with an upper body injury],” Florence said. “Our press could’ve been a little stronger for sure. They kept getting through it.”
Florence, 16, is confident Paul Kane will bounce back from the humbling loss.
“We’ll remember this feeling for sure. We’ll pick ourselves back up and we’re not going to let it happen again. We’ve got a tournament this weekend in Red Deer and we’re going to kick some butt.”
The last game for Paul Kane before the playoffs start May 25 is Tuesday’s exhibition crossover with the Salisbury Sabres. Kickoff is 4:45 p.m. at the rugby club.
Sturgeon closes out the regular season Tuesday against the Bellerose Bulldogs (1-2) at 4:45 p.m. in St. Albert. The first win for Bellerose was 32-0 Thursday against the Sting.