The YRHS Raiders football team and Yorkton Minor Football held their annual awards banquet at the Ukrainian Orthodox Auditorium this past Saturday, November 30.
Athletes from four different football teams were in attendance ranging from the Atom Raider Gridders through to the YRHS Senior Raiders. Also in attendance were former YRHS standouts Jordan Matechuk, now with the CFL's BC Lions, as well as Paul Toth, a key member of the Regina Thunder, the 2013 Canadian Junior Football League National champions.
Both Matechuk and Toth spoke to the players in attendance throughout the awards ceremonies and both had the same message: Enjoy playing football, work hard and give your best all the time.
With the awards ceremony about to commence, Atom Raiders Head Coach Jason Boyda announced that he did not plan on handing out individual awards, but instead opted to hand each of his players a diploma of sorts thanking them for their hard work and determination throughout the season.
The peewee Raiders awards were up next. Brad Newton took home the Rudy Award, an award given annually to the player who works the hardest to reach their goals. Braden Kitchen won the offensive MVP award, Zach Fleury walked away with the defensive MVP award and Matthew Balysky took home the offensive MVP award for the Peewee Raiders.
With the Peewee awards finished it was Junior Raiders Head Coach Mike Jarvis' turn at the podium. The boisterous Jarvis breezed through the award presentations, handing out the Lineman of the Year award to Noah Zerr, Most Improved to Austin Olson, the I Love Football award to Clark Hoffman, the Rudy award to Bryant Jones, the Rookie of the Year award to the combination of Eric Fookes and Brody Popowich, the Top Defensive Player award to Lukas Muir and the Top Offensive Player and MVP Awards to Brayden Jarvis.
Coach Jarvis then got a little choked up as he awarded the Players Choice Award to his own son Brayden. By winning the Players Choice Award the younger Jarvis will be able to select any football camp he would like to attend free of charge.
With the Junior awards wrapped up only the Senior Raiders football team needed their hardware handed out.
Senior Raiders Head Coach Roby Sharpe opened the awards ceremony with his best Mike Kozushka Sr. impression before handing out the Scholastic Award to the combination of Michael Kozushka Jr. and Jon Muir.
Then Sharpe called his coaching staff to the front in order to hand out the rest of the Senior football awards. Kyren Adams and Carl Petersen won the Most Improved Award for the Senior team while Tyson Haas picked up the coveted Most Tenacious Hitter award as the teams most devastating defensive presence.
The next award was the Rudy Award, which went out to Tyrell Ulmer for his never give up attitude. Alex Popoff then took home the Rookie of the Year award before Eddie Schramm was given the Coaches Award.
Michael Kozushka was the unanimous choice for Lineman of the Year while Grey McKen was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Raiders running back Zach Kais, as he did all season long, ran away with something. This time it was the Offensive Player of the Year award for his outstanding season of 933 yards on just 74 carries for an average yard-per-carry of 12.6.
Last but not least was the MVP award for the Senior Raiders football team. The MVP for the 2013 season was first year quarterback David Balysky. Balysky threw for 1,111 yards and completed 50 of 92 passes for a completion percentage of 54.3%, strong numbers for anyone, but especially strong for a player who, until this season, was a slotback.
Some may wonder why Balysky, who was a starting slotback for much of his career, was suddenly thrust into the QB position with little to no experience. Head Coach Roby Sharpe has the answer. "To put it simply, we took our best athlete this year and put him at quarterback," said the Senior Raiders Head Coach. "He would have had another great year if we kept him at slotback but he stepped up and answered the call and we couldn't be happier with his performance this season.
"We needed a QB who could be mobile, make the runs, make the reads, be smart, so we took a look through our roster and we thought David (Balysky) could do it. He's a quiet, humble leader, doesn't say much, so we asked him if he could play QB for us. He wasn't too keen on it at first because he's a very good slotback and he could play running back and defensive back, but eventually he came around to it."
True to form, when Balysky was asked to comment on his outstanding season, he simply handed the credit off to his teammates. "It's a great honour to be named MVP but I have to give credit to our offensive line. They played well all season and made great blocks. Also, our running back Zach Kais put up great numbers rushing and our receivers made great plays catching the ball," said the newly named Senior Raiders MVP. "I just really want to give credit to the rest of my team for helping me accomplish this."