CFC HS game preview (MB): Garden City Gophers vs Dakota Lancers

The Winnipeg High School Football League’s 2016 season kicks off this Thursday when the Dakota Lancers clash with the Garden City Fighting Gophers. Heading into this season both teams will be without a couple of key players from last season, now both with the Manitoba Bisons.

Garden City will be without their star Marcel Arruda-Welch, along with key players Christian Phillips, Austin Johnson and Noah Skorpad. Arruda-Welch suited up for the Bisons in preseason and earned a pick six against defending Vanier Cup champion UBC Thunderbirds. Coach of the Gophers Beau Wilks said of Arruda-Welch, “Marcel is a special player, I’ve said before that I may never see another athlete with the dynamic ability to control the game in so many different ways as long as I coach.” Christian Phillips was the league’s top wide receiver and Austin Johnson was a monster on special teams kicking for the Gophers.

#CFC100 Marcel Arruda Welch

#CFC100 Marcel Arruda Welch

In preseason, Garden City saw positive steps from several younger players. However, The Gophers met the Sturgeon Heights Huskies and had their work cut out for them. “They (Sturgeon Heights) controlled the line of scrimmage very well which led to problems for us on both sides of the ball,” added Wilks.

Once again the Garden City Gophers look to compete with the top ‘AAA’ teams in the province. Wilks said, “It will be a learning opportunity for our younger players and we will lean on our veterans to lead the way through the challenges that come with playing in the top conference in Manitoba.”

The Dakota Lancers will see a new face at quarterback this year. Reid Vankoughnett is replacing Colby Kyliuk who graduated and is now a Bison. Vankoughnett was the back-up last season and played receiver as well. Dakota will have two seasons with their new pivot, Lancers coach Ray Jarvis mentioned, “He is a competitor and will be fun to watch this season.”

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“Camp went as expected, you never have enough time,” explained Jarvis. During this year’s camp, Dakota had a couple of surprises. Israel Musenga on offence and Josh Yanchishyn on defense have made an impression. Both are first year players who are athletic and have the potential to make an impact in every game.

Heading into the new season, Dakota’s strength will be its leadership core. Coach Jarvis said, “We will rely on our veteran players to provide the leadership needed to guide our younger players throughout the course of the season.” As this is the first game of the year, Coach will be reminding them that the first game is a start of the process they started in the spring and to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand. “Bring the competiveness we have been working on in the preseason and enjoy the experience of the first game of the 2016 WHSFL season,” concluded Jarvis.

With both teams dressing some young and new players this could make for an exciting matchup. We at CFC think that the Gophers will take this one, but it will be close.








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