With only four players who have football experience, progress for the Estevan Miners is monitored in terms of teaching fundamentals and in-game smarts rather than the score.
The Miners lost their Regina Minor Football atom division opener 70-0 to Regina Griffins South on Saturday.
The group of youngsters was tentative in the beginning, and not knowing which players were coming didn’t make it easier, according to head coach Garth Dietz.
“At the start of the game, it seemed like they were so nervous to do anything, to get hit or do any hitting,” Dietz said.
“After halftime they kind of clued in that these guys are no bigger than us and they started to tackle better. The effort was there the whole game once they got over the nerves.”
That led to a second half which, while not putting any points on the board, gives the Miners something to build on entering Saturday’s 11 a.m. home opener against the Regina Alouettes.
“It was entertaining to watch. I saw those kids out there in the second half trying their hardest and I was happy. The second half was, ‘Yeah, I can pancake this kid so I will.’”
Dietz praised the Miners’ discipline in the face of a rapidly increasing home total on the scoreboard, with the Estevan squad taking only one penalty on the day.
“They did really well for having 36 kids that have never really played before,” he said.
“We shut down their inside running game and their passing game, it was just the sweeps that killed us.”
Dietz said he was pleasantly surprised by a few of his defensive players and hopes others will follow suit once they get a better grasp on the game.
The coach expects Saturday’s Football Day in Estevan to give his kids a boost.
“I think they will be (motivated) because they get to play at home in front of the Estevan people. I think they’ll be pretty pumped once it gets rolling, and being involved in the (Kraft Celebration Tour), that’ll just help out.”