The Yorkton Regional High School Raider Gridders have already started putting in the legwork to take another run at a 12-man 3A championship.
The senior football squad has been practicing since the beginning of May and have two half-exhibition games lined up in Brandon, MB., on Friday, May 31.
“We always play some exhibition games In May to get the rust off,” said Raider Gridders head coach Roby Sharpe. “This year we are going to Brandon to play two half games. It will be a good opportunity to try some things and just get into some game situations.”
Yorkton Regional won’t have some of their key players from last year returning next season such as quarterback and defensive back Dalton Fichtner, who recently cracked the U of R Rams, and linebacker and fullback Layne Hull, who is poised to play junior ball in B.C. next year. This, however, is business as usual in the high school football ranks.
“We graduated six guys and they were very good players, but high school football is a revolving door,” said Sharpe. “Every year I think how am I going to replace these guys, but we always find a way. Every year guys step up and become leaders and take huge strides in their games.”
Sharpe already sees some up-and-coming stars that are poised to fill the voids left by the graduating players.
“I’ve been very happy with what I’ve seen in practice so far,” he said. “Grey McKen has really stood out. He’s a man amongst boys out there. He plays linebacker and has a lot of potential to really dominate. David Balysky is going to be our new quarterback. He looks good out there, too. And our offensive line is one of our strengths. They are big and we are a big team. I’m not sure what we’re averaging, but I bet we are averaging 250-pounds on the offensive line and roughly 6-foot-2.”
As a whole, the Yorkton Regional head coach believes he has a jump on past years.
“I think where we are right now, we are further ahead than we have ever been as a football organization since I have been here,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with how everything has come together so far.”
Although the Raider Gridders try to put defence first, their offense has stood out the must thus far in spring ball.
“We are always a defensive-minded team,” said Sharpe. “That has always been our style – defence first. But Jason Boyda is an unbelievable offensive coordinator. He has been working his unit and has already been running offensive reps smoothly.”
The Raider Gridders fell to the Moose Jaw Peacock Tornadoes in the championship game of the Moose Jaw High School Football League last year. This season, the writing is on the wall for another run at the 3A championship.
“We are preparing this team to win,” said Sharpe. “Our goal is to win. We always say how do you spell fun – W-I-N. We aren’t going to try to not hurt anyone’s feelings by spreading around the game time. This is high school football, not elementary. I fully expect us to be back at the league championship game next year. I think this team will have what it takes to go for it all.”