Kenten Effa fought to earn his trip to Ontario.
The 14-year-old athlete competed in several football camps earlier this year. He worked against hundreds of players from across the province, running through countless drills.
“It was a battle,” he said. “You had to work your butt off.”
Effa, along with four fellow Yorktonites, secured a spot on Saskatchewan’s 40-man team. The group competed in the Under-16 Eastern Challenge in Guelph from Jul. 7-15. Saskatchewan played against Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec for field supremacy.
Effa (lineback), Jaxon Boyda (defensive back), Reece McCormick (defensive line), Dallas Thiessen (offensive line), and Keane Szabo (lineback) were instrumental in team Saskatchewan’s success. The group snagged the silver medal after the week-long tournament.
“We were extremely proud of their committment,” said Jason Boyda, football coach at Yorkton Regional High School. “The boys did a really good job.”
Saskatchewan faced Ontario on Jul. 8 in their first game. In a back-and-forth affair, Saskatchewan squeaked out on top with a 12-10 win, earning a by into the gold medal game. McCormick credited his team’s cohesiveness for their victory.
“We knew how each other played,” he said.
Saskatchewan squared off against Quebec for the top prize on Jul. 14. Saskatchewan’s opponents held a consistent lead during the tough game.
“We didn’t have a strong fist half,” Szabo said. “We came out kind of flat.”
“They were well coached,” Effa said.
Quebec ultimately triumphed with a 38-8 victory, sending Saskatchewan home with a silver medal. The Yorkton players are inspired to best their tournament performance.
“[I want to] work harder and become greater,” Jaxon Boyda said.
Beyond the gridiron, the Yorkton players enjoyed getting to know their fellow athletes from Saskatchewan and eastern Canada.
“[I] met a whole bunch of players [and] new friends,” McCormick said.
“My favourite part was seeing other players’ skills,” Jaxon Boyda said.
As the regular football season draws closer, the Yorkton players are ready to put their tournament experiences to good use.
“It’s a fun sport,” Effa said. “[You] play with 12 guys and you know they’re your brothers.”