The Sturgeon Spirits football team is heading to the Gilfillan Division finals after defeating the St. Albert Catholic High School Skyhawks 41-6 in their semi-final matchup on Thursday.
Head coach Chad Hill said the team overcame an injury-riddled roster in the win.
“[It was] lot of hard work by the players and they executed as good or better than they have all year,” said Hill. “We went in with a lot of injuries, we were fortunate to get a few players healthy enough to suit up and play, but we were still missing some key guys.”
The Spirits scored early and often throughout the game. The offense led the way with 41 points on the night. Quarterback Chris Ioanidis gained four touchdowns, throwing for two and running in two more.
Despite the strong offensive performance, Hill gave credit to his team’s defense by limiting the Skyhawks to six points on the night.
“The offense was doing good but the defense was outstanding,” said Hill. “I don’t know if [The Skyhawks] picked up a first down in the first half ... the defense just shut down their offense.”
Lineman Owen Buechler and linebackers Brody Panchyshyn, Jacob Oliphant, and Ty Pedgerachny held strong on defense.
Overall, the Spirits' head coach was proud.
“The team executed the game-plan perfectly,” said Hill. “They played with a lot of intensity and I am really proud of the effort they put forward.”
Now they will shift their sights to the league final against the Lillian Osborne Legends. It won’t be your typical high-school football game, as this one is set to take place at Commonwealth Stadium, home of CFL’s Edmonton Elks.
Receiver Devlin Freemont said the entire team is excited to play football on such a grand stage.
“It is going to be something. I am really excited to play at a CFL stadium for our final game,” said Freemont. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The Spirits will enter the final as the favourite, having beat the Legends in September 10-6, but Hill said the team is going in expecting a battle.
“We’re in for another really tough match, [our last game against Lillian Osborne] was a physical match that could have gone either way,” said Hill. “This week we will go over the film, show the players the game plan, and get out on the field.”
The players feel like they have what it takes to make this a championship season.
“We've got to practice all week and focus on playing the best we can,” said Freemont. “I think if our whole team plays the best they can we will have a really good shot.”
The Sturgeon Spirits will head to Commonwealth Stadium for the championship game against the Lillian Osborne Legends on Saturday.