2012 marks a new chapter in the YRHS Raiders football program. After many years of Regina Intercollegiate Football League success, consistently making the playoffs and making runs at city championships, the Raiders have left to greener pastures by way of Moose Jaw’s football conference. Along with RIFL powerhouse and recent back to back champions in Weyburn the Raiders add another team to a league that is every bit as competitive as the RIFL and Saskatoon league, providing seven of the last ten provincial champions. The Raiders and Weyburn now get the benefits of lower travel costs, and the possibility of hosting a home playoff game, something that coach Roby Sharpe simply couldn’t pass up.
Sharpe explained that they first tried to negotiate with the RIFL as they didn’t want to continue to pay for RIFL teams buses down to Yorkton and wanted the opportunity for Century Field to be able to host a home playoff game if they were the higher seed, when that didn’t happen Moose Jaw came forward as a viable option.
After all of the behind the scenes effort, the moral of the story is that the YRHS was entering a new league with new teams when they made the first drive down to Moose Jaw Saturday to take on Vanier, one of last years provincial finalists, losing to RIFL powerhouse O’Neil 20-18. Going into the game coach Sharpe said it was a different experience as, “We didn’t even know where we were going, we were using change rooms for the first time, a different field, we didn’t have game film or game experience against their coaches as we would have had in the RIFL.” Despite the added challenges of having their first league game on the road the Raiders adjusted well to the new league with an impressive win over one of last year’s top teams, taking down Vanier 29-8.
Coach Sharpe was happy with the win, but still thinks that the victory isn’t the measuring stick with Vanier potentially losing top players from their successful team from the year before. Sharpe was happy with his teams intensity, matching the tradition of physical Raider teams that seem to roll in year after year. “Adam McCanell and Tyson Haas are big physical additions to our team and love to hit, and Layne Hull is a man child all over the field for us, bodies were lying everywhere.” said Sharpe. On offense Sharpe was impressed with quarterback Dalton Fichtner saying he is the “total package, he can throw the ball, run out of the pocket, and is a general leading the team.” Grade ten running back Zack Kais started his season with two touchdowns and 157 yards rushing, while Dalton Fichtner added to the ground attack with 116 yards on the ground at a staggering rate of 9.7 yards a carry. Layne Hull rounded out the impressive Raider offensive attack with two receiving touchdowns and eighty two yards of combined rushing/receiving offense on just seven touches.
After the impressive win the Raiders get a bye week over the weekend before they host their first game of the season at Century Field against arguably one of the league and province’s best football programs, Moose Jaw Peacock. Sharpe anticipates a physical game at home and sees many similarities between the Raiders and their opponents adding that Moose Jaw Peacock attracts most of the city’s top athletes. Sharpe sees this game as what can be a measuring stick for where the Raiders fit into the league’s picture for the season as after two games against successful opponents the Raiders will be able to see how they stack up in the new league. Sharpe also mentioned that they are more familiar with their opponents this week than against Vanier as they have played Peacock in exhibition games before and will have the advantage of having Week One game film to prepare.
As for what the Raiders will be working on heading into the September 18 clash, Sharpe said that hitting drills will be worked on as always, as new guys came in at the start of the school year after training camp that will need to be worked in, as well as fundamentals. Sharpe drove home the point that the fundamentals and ball protection will be a key in the matchup as “Games are won and lost on turnovers and the few mistakes made in a football game that can swing the momentum either way.”
The Raider-Peacock matchup will sure to be one of the games of the season at Century Field as the two physical teams look to test their mettle early in the season. The game is slated for Tuesday afternoon, but a final kick off has yet to be determined.