Yorkton’s Atom Gridder football team fought to maintain their no-loss record in the final two games of the regular season, but slipped to 4-2 as they headed into one of four Bowl Games on Sunday, Sept. 29 at Regina’s Liebel Field.
The Gridders met up with The Regina Canadians at Liebel Field on Saturday, Sept. 14 with 10 players missing from the roster. The game started with the first series riddled with five offside calls lasting 10 minutes. The Gridders found it difficult to gain tempo, but the defense had a very consistent and strong game. Eventually, the Canadians scored a touchdown and a single-point conversion with only seconds left in the first half.
The second half saw the Gridders get their running game going. Carter Pawliw had a great run followed by Josh Haczkewicz who railed down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown run. QB Connor Watrych attempted to run the ball for the single-point conversion, but was stopped half-yard line from the goal line. The defense was able to hold off the Canadians for a final of 7-6 in favour of Regina.
On Sept. 21, the Gridders hosted the undefeated Regina Thunderbirds who were ranked second in the 18 team field of atom teams in the Regina Minor Football League. The Gridders, who had dropped to 4-1, were in a four-way tie for fourth place in the league. The first half of the game was a defensive battle. The Thunderbirds got on the scoreboard first and tallied a two-point conversion. But right before half time, the Gridders ran their double-reverse for 100 yards with ball carrier Josh Haczkewicz; however, unfortunately the play was called back on a holding call. Therefore it remained 8-0 at half for the Thunderbirds.
The Gridders opened up the second half with a great drive all the way down to the Thunderbird 10-yard line, but then the offense stalled and couldn’t score. Then the Thunderbirds started to ground and pounded the ball 100 yards to score another touchdown. The Birds missed on the conversion. The Gridders offense experienced a two and out leaving the Thunderbirds to score again, going up 20-0.
In the fourth quarter, the Gridder offense started up with some hard running by Carter Pawliw and Josh Herman, which resulted in the defense focussing on the inside running game allowing the naked bootleg to open up for Connor Watrych. Once Connor got to the edge, he made one defensive back miss and he hit paydirt for the Gridders’ first TD of the game. The conversion was unsuccessful for a score of 20-6.
With less than a minute left in the game, the Gridders gambled on a third down at the Thunderbird 10-yeard line, but they gave up the ball. This left the Thunderbirds with one more touchdown to make the final score 26-6.
The Atom Gridders finished regular season play with a 4-2 record and in seventh place out of the 18 teams in the RMF. This earned them a spot to play for the Kanuka Thuringer Bowl Game at Liebel Field on Sept. 29 against the Regina Badgers.
The Gridders had a great start firing off with Josh Haczkewicz on a double reverse run into the endzone, but the touchdown was called back on a holding penalty. That didn’t, however, slow down the Gridder offense as Josh Herman carried the ball 25 yards for a touchdown. The Gridders fumbled on their two-point conversion attempt, giving them a 6-0 lead.
The next touchdown came about on a broken play for the Badgers as it looked like the Gridder defense was going to tackle the Regina runningback for a huge loss, but he wiggled his way out of a couple of would-be Gridder tacklers. The running back threw a desperation pass which was caught by Badgers receiver for a huge gain all the way to the Gridder 5-yard line. Next play, the Badgers found their way in on a simple middle run. Regina converted to make the score 7-6 which stood until half time.
In the second half, the Gridder offense did more damage to themselves than the Badgers defense with ball-security issues committing four fumbles. The Gridder defense was put in a bind as they had to try and stop the Badgers from the Gridder 20-yard line. Three plays later, the Badgers scored again and converted to take a 14-6 lead. Lose the battle on turnovers, lose the battle on the scoreboard – that’s what happened for the Yorkton Atom Gridders in Regina.