The Yorkton Regional Raider Gridders are league champs for the second year in a row.
Saturday the Raiders held on to the championship they won in 2017 with a convincing 46-17 win over the Central Cyclones to again top the Moose Jaw High School Athletics Association League.
It was Yorkton’s fifth visit to the league final in the seven years the team has been in the league.
The game, played in Moose Jaw, was close through the opening half, with Yorkton up 18-10 at the break.
“They got a touchdown on a sleeper play,” said Raider Gridder head coach Roby Sharpe.
Sharpe said in Moose Jaw the teams are both on the same sideline, so it’s not easy to see when players are running in and off.
“It was a fake field goal, a guy (the receiver) was just standing by the bench,” he said, adding “it was very frustrating how they got that touchdown.”
But with a lead at the half, Sharpe said there was nothing but encouragement from the coaches that things were going Yorkton’s way.
“At the half it was ‘just stay the course, we’re going to make this happen” he said. “It’s not like we panicked or anything. We just stuck to the plan.”
The Raiders came out for the third quarter with the wind at their backs, Moose Jaw having decided to take the wind in the fourth quarter.
With the wind, Raider quarterback Jordin Rusnack completed a long pass to Carson Sveinbjornson for a touchdown early in the second half and that changed the game.
“We got some momentum. Once we got that, forget it,” said Sharpe.
The win advances Yorkton to the Provincial 3A football semi-final to be held this Saturday, with the Raider Gridders hosting Bishop Mahoney Saints from Saskatoon.
Sharpe said the Saints will be a tough challenge.
“I know they smashed everybody in their league, like we smashed everybody in ours’,” he said.
Sharpe added the Saints have played some 4A teams this year thorough a cross competition arrangement, so that experience against larger schools could give them “a slight advantage.”
On a quick look at game films, Sharpe, who focuses on special teams, noted “they have a very dangerous return man.”
As for the other facets of the game, he said the team’s offensive and defensive coordinators will be going over the film and will run the Raiders through drills focused on Saint tendencies.
“We’ll try to get the guys prepared for the ‘looks’ they’re going to see,” he said.