CFC50 game PREVIEW (MB): Ringland back in the lineup for Oak Park

CFC50 Grant Park Pirates vs. Oak Park Raiders

Thursday, Sept. 28 @ 5:00pm, Grant Park

This Thursday, CFC50 Grant Park Pirates welcome the Oak Park Raiders for their homecoming. Grant Park has been on fire at 3-0, while the Raiders are still searching for their first win, and they have some good news with starting quarterback Charlie Ringland back in the lineup.

“Charlie’s return has provided senior leadership on the field,” mentioned Oak Park’s Chad Mackay. “He is a competitor from start to finish and his attitude is being picked up by our young players.”

Oak Park has been led by their strong defensive unit this season. “We are keeping things close with our aggressive play on defense and giving our young offence a chance to win a game at the end,” added Mackay.

The Raiders offence has been led by wide receiver Ben Boyko. On defense, Jon Sneesby, Dima Lyubishenko, and Eric Rivera have all been key pieces.

Ben Boyko

For Oak Park to have success on Thursday they’ll have to make some stops early and make something happen with special teams. Offensively the Raiders will have to control the ball and give their defense a rest so they will be ready to stop Grant Park’s running backs.

It’s a different tale on the other side in Grant Park. The Pirates were recently named one of Canada’s best High School football programs. I talked to coach Doug Kovacs about what that meant to his club.

Kovacs said, “We want to thank Canadian Football Chat for honoring us with this. Our media guys brought this to my attention a few weeks ago and I think it is a great tribute to the players, coaches, and the administration of Grant Park. The players have worked tremendously hard to get to this point and I think it’s a credit to them and the coaches.”

However, Kovacs is staying modest in his approach. He is telling his players and staff during the season it is not time to look at what you have accomplished but rather stay humble and hungry. “I am sure at the end of the season if we can stay in the top 50 It will be a true honor for this program and we will appreciate it even more,” replied Kovacs.

During their three game win streak, the Pirates have continued to stay focused and practice hard, despite an early season bye and some terrible weather. The players at Grant Park were incredible and their attitudes were outstanding during the Sturgeon game in the face of a down pour.

Tyson Spence (L)

“We are very fast and physical and love to hit so that has really carried us in our first few games,” said Kovacs.

Blade Thickfoot has blossomed as a two-way player for the Pirates providing devastating tackles, and has been a great physical downhill runner. Will Huh has become one of the

top defensive end in the province, and provides relentless pressure. Jacob Sanchez has been a revelation for Grant Park at the strong safety, kicking and punting positions. Kovacs mentioned, “He (Sanchez) has been a physical alley player and has an interception and his punting has been accurate and timely.”

A good matchup in this game will be Jordan Chizda of the Pirates at halfback against Oak Park’s wide outs. Jordan is becoming one of the best defensive backs in the province and will have a tough assignment again this week.

Leading Grant Park is the trio of Val Lazo, Tyson Spence and Ben Aronovich. The Pirates’ “wrecking crew” continues to disrupt opposing offences and they are leading the Potter Division in forced fumbles and sacks.

Valentin Lazo (M) Photo credit- Glenn Dickson

On offense, Cody Gushulak and Gabi Peyst will be looking to have big games.

Grant Park hasn’t won a game against the Raiders in 14 years and they are hoping to change that this week. For the Pirates to have success, they’ll need to be physical and control the football. “Their defense is very good and their front 7 is one of the top in Manitoba,” said Kovacs. “We need to score early and put pressure on them.”

The key stat in this one will be turnovers and the team that makes the fewest mistakes.

We at CFC think that this game will go down to the fourth quarter, but Grant Park will prevail. When these two teams meet it has been like a heavyweight bought at times, we will just have to wait and see if this one is the same.






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