#CFC50 Sturgeon Heights Huskies take on the Oak Park Raiders

The Winnipeg High School Football League kicks off its regular season this Thursday night. The Sturgeon Heights Huskies meet the Oak Park Raiders in what should be a tough battle for both teams. Sturgeon was victorious over the Steinbach Sabres in the Vidruk division final last season, while the Oak Park Raiders lost in the Potter division semi-final to the league champion Vincent Massey Trojans.

One of the biggest strengths to the Huskies last season was their running game. Kaeden Corrie was the league leading rusher and will be back running behind offensive lineman Brock Gutowski and 4 out of 5 linemen from last year. All 5 starting wide outs are returning and Simon Winsnes will be back calling the signals. In Sturgeon’s preseason game their quarterbacks combined for 6 passing touchdowns to 4 different receivers.

On defense, Sturgeon Heights will be led by their three senior linebackers Stephen Hart, Kyle Janzen and Nikita Kurakin. “Stephen Hart and Josh Robinson are looking solid after spending the summer improving while playing for our U18 team in the Canada Cup,” mentioned head coach Eric Vincent.

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The biggest surprise of the Huskies’ training camp has been the resurgence of their passing camp. Coach explained, “While having Simon Winsnes back has helped, our receivers have stepped up their game and are looking forward to more passing this season.” Riley Pierce has put in lot of work with Recruit Ready this off-season and seems ready for a breakout year. Dryden Lavoie had 3 touchdown catches in the preseason game and will be an important part of Sturgeon’s pass game as well.

This season the Sturgeon Heights Huskies’ focus is balancing out their offense and eliminating the big play on defense. “Teams last season were able to key on our run game and stack the box against us. This year, we will be able to hurt teams on the ground and in the air which should help our offense tremendously,” added Coach Vincent.

On defense the Huskies will work on eliminating the big play and make the opposing offenses earn their points. Coach Eric Vincent said, “Almost every team in the Potter division has 1 or 2 explosive players that can hurt you at any time, taking away the big play is always priority number 1 on defense.”

Sturgeon is heading into this game the say way they do every game. They need to move the ball well on offense and control the clock. This means a good balance between their pass and run game, and crisp execution. On defense, the Raiders have some big explosive receivers that the Huskies will need to stop and they will have to limit their run game in order to force some two and outs. “We need to play hard, but disciplined football and avoid the types of penalties that hurt us in the finals last year,” concluded Vincent.

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The Oak Park Raiders return with mostly the same roster as last season. The biggest loss to the Raiders was kicker/punter Niko Di Fonte who is now with the Calgary Dinos. Quarterback Charlie Ringland and Christopher Alexander have both been in coach Stuart Nixon’s good books.

One of the most exciting players to watch in my opinion last year was Oak Park’s Shak Harris. Harris was valuable as a wide receiver, running back, quarterback and kick returner. Shak will be back this year and I asked coach what kind of year he thinks his running back will have, “Under the offensive system we’ve decided to go with, Shak will have a great year.”

Oak Park’s defense will be trying to execute their system as best as they can this game. Coach Nixon talked about his defensive game plan with the Huskies fielding the top rusher, “The D works as a unit, we’re not changing a system to prepare for one individual, they have a great quarterback and receivers as well.”

We, at CFC, think that this game will be close but Oak Park will squeeze it out in the 4th quarter.






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