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Sturgeon Spirits concede first points, remain undefeated

After 21 quarters of football – more than five full games – the Sturgeon Composite High School football team finally allowed another team to score.
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Two Sturgeon Spirits defenders wrap up Lillian Osborne's quarterback Parham Haidary in the second quarter of Sturgeon's 41-10 win. JACK FARRELL/St. Albert Gazette

After 21 quarters of football – more than five full games – the Sturgeon Composite High School football team was scored on for the first time this season. 

The juggernaut Spirit defence went into their sixth regular season game on Thursday, Oct. 13, against last year's defending champions, the Lillian Osborne Legends, without conceding a single point all year, but a few too many objectionable conduct penalties lead to a second quarter field goal against, ending the team's unheard of run. 

The Spirit didn't let the end of their streak get them down though, as multiple over 70-yard passing touchdowns put the Spirit on top, allowing them to clinch first place in the conference heading into playoffs.

After the game, Spirit linebacker and one of the team's captains Brody Panchyshyn summed up the feeling of being scored on for the first time by saying, "that felt a little shitty."

"But, it was three points,” he added. “On defence we stopped mouthing off to the other team and started working together and shutting them down.”

Indeed, the Spirit defence re-grouped and managed to keep Lillian Osborne's league-leading offense from scoring again until late in the fourth quarter when the Legend's backup quarterback connected with a receiver on a wide open 14-yard strike. The game's final score was 41-10.

On offense, Spirit quarterback Chris Ioanidis couldn't seem to get enough of the end-zone as he threw three touchdown passes, and called his own number for a goal-line sneak for another touchdown in the fourth quarter. Ioanidis had a one-yard running touchdown in the third quarter called back due to a penalty. On the following play, slot receiver Stefan Visscher, who found himself taking direct snaps in the shotgun on multiple occasions throughout the game, punched the ball in for a six-yard run.

"When we come out here we play strong and I think the scoreboard shows it,” Visscher said after the game. 

"When you get scored on you can’t let that drag you down, you just have to go out there and do your thing and I think we achieved that today.”

Despite giving up points for the first time this year, the Spirit defence still made some key plays as Keavan Painchaud had a momentum swinging interception in the second quarter, and Panchyshyn managed to recover a Lillian Osborne fumble in the third quarter that allowed the Spirit to start an offensive drive on the Legend's six yard line.

For Spirits head coach Chad Hill, the team's success on defence this year is a result of a multitude of factors.

"In all sincerity, this is one of the best defences I’ve ever coached," Hill said to The Gazette.

"We’re deep, and I think that’s the big thing," he said, adding that the team has had 13 or 14 different players rotate in on the defensive line. "It’s nice that we have that depth up front where we can keep the legs fresh,” he said.

Because of the team's depth, and some quick learners, Hill said, the defence has been able to learn many kinds of pass-coverage schemes.

“At the high school level of football, there’s not many quarterbacks that are going to be able to read coverages like that.”

With first place in the conference clinched, the Spirits will begin playoffs on Thursday, Oct. 27 at Larry Olexiuk Field against the fourth place team in the conference. Currently, Lillian Osborne holds fourth place, but the standings won't be confirmed until after next week's final regular season games.

"It’s something we talked about at the start of the season – coming out here and being the number one team – and we’re the bullies and I think we’ll stick to that," Visscher said about heading into the playoffs. 

“I’m pumped."

The Spirits will wrap-up their regular season schedule on Thursday, Oct. 20 against McNally High School, who currently sit in sixth place. The game will take place at Larry Olexiuk Field in St. Albert, and kick-off is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.

The St. Albert Catholic High School Skyhawks, who play in the same division, are currently second in the standings with five wins and one loss, which came against the Sturgeon Spirits.


Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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