Brandon to host Prairie high school preseason game on Labour Day Weekend

The Grant Park Pirates of the Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) wanted to do something different to prepare for the fall season.

After much deliberation, the Pirates found a solution.

“Our Director of football operations Mike Kennedy and I decided we needed to expand our profile and play some good teams around the country to test our team and get ready for the season,” commented Pirates Head Coach Doug Kovacs.  “Sheldon Williams is a great school from Regina with a lot of tradition and with them having a bye the first week it was a natural selection.”

With their plan in tow, the Pirates reached out to their Saskatchewan counterparts, the Spartans who compete in the Regina Intercollegiate Football League (RIFL) to see what the chances were to have a preseason matchup.

“In conversations with head coach Brent Blakley, he was excited about the prospect of this game and we were able to secure a date and a venue with some special help from Kevin Boyd at Crocus High School in Brandon,” said Kovacs.  “The venue was approximately half way between the two schools and we thought it would be a good way for us to test our starters and play our whole squads in this game.”

Grant Park Pirates 2014 5

Both the Pirates and Spartans will meet on Friday September 4th at Crocus Plains High School in Brandon, Manitoba.  Kickoff is 2:30pm.

This game will coincide with the CFL Weekend Classic that will pit the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers. By staging their game, Kovacs hopes it will become a permanent fixture and be intertwined with the holiday CFL tradition.

“I would hope in the future this could become part of the Labor Day classic as it is an excellent show case of amateur football and with the university and pro teams having such a good rivalry this would be a natural extension,” elaborated the Pirates Head Coach.

Overall, the objective of this year’s game for both squads is very simple.

“Our goal for this game is to gain experience by playing similarly matched teams and prepare for the season,” stated Kovacs, who said that both teams have exchanged film and are currently making final preparations for the game.  “Both schools boast a wealth of tradition and want to prepare for league play.”

In their case, the Pirates will use this preseason battle as a measuring stick.

“At Grant Park, we feel you make the most growth from your first to your second game and playing a team like Sheldon Williams and their physical nature will allow us to gain much needed experience for the very difficult Potter Division play we will see all year,” explained Kovacs.

Photo credit: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post

Photo credit: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post

As for their opponent, the Pirates are expecting an aggressive Spartans squad who will exhibit crafty playmaking abilities on the field.

“Sheldon Williams is a great school that has had a lot of success over the years,” assessed Kovacs of the Spartans.  “We expect them to be physical and disciplined.”

“From our scouting report we see an explosive team that is multiple on offense and defensively runs very well to the football. We will have to use our speed and discipline to match their skill and rely on our leadership in order to be successful.”

Tony Rossi

#CFC100 defensive end Tony Rossi headlines the Pirates roster.

“He is one of the most dynamic linemen in the country,” added Kovacs of the #CFC100.

Moreover, “dual threat” pivot Peter LeClair, 2014 WHSFL second ranked rusher Josh Weichel, two-way lineman Kelsey Sumner Traverse, all-conference offensive tackle Brendan Lomow, 2014 Defensive Elite Player of the Year Max Zimberg, 2014 junior varsity MVP Brent Broughton and senior nose tackle Alex Balogh will be the ones to watch for on the Pirates.

However, Kovacs offered that the team has a potential player who may turn out to be an eventual game changer.

“Ron Imeltchuk is a wild card that can play running back or linebacker,” said the Pirates Head Coach.  “He comes from a great football family and can be a game changer.”

Grant Park Pirates 2014 6

Despite the fact that it is a preseason contest between two Prairie high school teams from different provinces, it will be an intense battle where both teams will be in top form.

“We can expect a very physical game as both teams will be looking to establish their ground game,” commented Kovacs.  “Both schools have a very competitive nature and will be playing at a very high level early in the season.”

With this preseason game, it is just the beginning steps of a long term plan the Pirates would like to see happen down the road.

“Grant Park would like to make this a yearly game and as long as the schedules permit,” stated Kovacs.  “This is a great game that allows you to get your team on the road play some tough competition and bond as a team.”

“The very nature of the game will help build a team and allow you to test yourself against outstanding competition.”

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Ultimately, the Pirates are optimistic this showcase of Prairie football at its finest will lead to added exposure from both a provincial and national level.

“Grant Park is a Potter Division school and the smallest playing in the top division of high School football in Manitoba,” expressed Kovacs.  “We pride ourselves on discipline and being physical.”

“We boast several university prospects and we hope this game will allow the Universities from across the Prairies to see them and show case their talents.”







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