The Sturgeon Spirits high school football team is looking to maintain their perfect 4-0 record heading into the final three weeks of the season.
The team is coming off a dominant 28-0 win over the M.E. LaZerte Voyageurs a week ago that saw a dominant performance by Ben Roe, who picked up three interceptions and 100 yards on the offence in the game Sept. 29. On the defensive end of the ball, Jacob Oliphant led the team with 10 tackles while Ty Pedgerachny followed with seven of his own and a highlight-reel interception.
They are standing atop the Gilfillan Division standings of the Metro Edmonton High School league and head coach Chad Hill said he is proud of how the team has performed, to date.
“It’s been a little bit hectic, but the boys have responded very well,” said Hill. “We’re 4-0 so far, which is a great start and we’ve put ourselves in a good situation heading into October for the back half of the schedule.”
The undefeated record might make people think they are cruising through the season, but the team has grinded through some tough games to get here.
They opened the season with a 38-10 victory over St. Albert, but then had a few close ones in their next two. They squeaked out a 13-10 win over Ardrossan in week two, then followed that up with a 10-6 win over Lillian Osborne in week three.
“We’ve had some really tough physical games and they haven’t been easy wins, that’s for sure,” said Hill. “Those are the wins that feel pretty good ... we know we are pretty evenly matched with the other leagues in our division, but we’ve been able to do enough to get the wins.”
The fight is far from over for the Spirits. With three weeks left to go in their season, they have a couple of key match-ups coming up that could drastically affect where they land in the standings. The two teams that are chasing them just so happen to be the next two teams on the schedule for the Spirits.
The first match-up will be against the 3-1 St. Francis Xavier Rams this Friday at Larry Olexiuk Field. They will then host the 3-1 Fort Saskatchewan Sting on Oct. 14.
Hill said these two games are important for the club, but right now the focus is on the game against the Rams on Friday.
“First place is on the line and if we are able to get another win, I believe that would guarantee us a playoff spot,” said Hill. “St. Francis Xavier looks pretty good, watching them on film their offensive lineman is pretty physical, their quarterback is athletic, they got a big running-back and defensively they are pretty solid so it should be another tight battle.”
From the players' perspective, the team has been buzzing. Hill wants them to be proud of their record so far, but also wants to remind them the season is far from over.
“We kind of painted the picture for them,” said Hill. “We’re 4-0 so we need to be excited about that, but by no means have we looked like a dominant team ... we look like a team that has been gutting it out.
“We told the players, heading into October, this is where it counts now, this is where we've got to improve our game in every area. I think the attitude is really, going in, the players are excited and proud of themselves, which they should be, but at the same time they also realize we haven’t been blowing teams out of the water.”
For a complete schedule for the Sturgeon Spirits head to http://metroathletics.ca/ and view the Gilfillan division.