#CFCHSFB PREVIEW (MB): Spartans look to conquer Gophers

The Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) is back Thursday night with a matchup between the Sisler Spartans and the Garden City Gophers.

What makes this game unique is that a lot of players from both teams come from the Manitoba Major Football League’s (MMFL) North Winnipeg Nomads. The game is also being held at the field in which the Nomads play.

Sisler head coach Sean Esselmont said “Fittingly we are having the game at Nomads Field which is the community club that feeds into both our programs, I think it will be an exciting game”.

Both of these teams are coming off of big victories. The Sisler Spartans defeated the Oak Park Raiders 36-10, while Garden City beat the Sturgeon Heights Huskies 47-24.

After beating Oak Park, Sisler’s Esselmont was ecstatic about the victory.

“I think this past week this coaching staff finally got to see how good this team can be when it gets into a rhythm,” said Esselmont.

The last Sisler game I watched I was impressed with Bailey Pavcek. Pavcek plays both defensive live and offensive line and he played every snap but 6 in the last contest I watched him in.  I asked his coach what it was like to have a player of his caliber around.

“Bailey has the exceptionally valuable talent of being a long snapper, which means that he is a true triple threat player, he also is an emotional leader for this team, and in my opinion has next level written all over him” added coach Esselmont.

Coming off of another win, the Garden City Gophers are tied for first with a 3-0 record with the St.Paul’s Crusaders.

In last week’s game, kicker Landon Marsch was 6 for 6 on converts, had a 39 yard field goal, 2 singles, 4 punts for 169 yards (42.25 yd avg), 7 kickoffs for 375 yards (53.57 yd avg) and one special teams tackle. Marsch was named special teams player of the WHSFL.

Garden City also has the top wide receiver in Manitoba after three weeks Christian Philips. Philips is leading the province in every category. He has 19 catches for 360 yards and five touchdowns.

Defensively Gopher Riley Knysh likes what he sees, he said” On the defensive side we have the bend but don’t break mentality which you can see by watching us”.

In grade nine Knysh didn’t see much time on the field but he has started two out of three games this season.

“Me personally as a player my goals were just to get on the field. My grade 9 season I was stuck watching the games from the sideline”  but, Riley has a little more on his mind “Scoring my first td will of course be at the top of my goals but that will come in time” replied Knysh.

The Gophers are in their ninth season in the WHSFL and are looking ready to challenge for the title. Head coach of the Gophers Beau Wilks likes what he sees because his team is playing “smart football”.

“We have played pretty disciplined and smart football which is critical – any mistake in that department can swing a game in this division, keeping this in check as the season unfolds will be key,” said Wilks.

As for what he thinks will happen Thursday night, Wilks said “All the Sisler vs GC games I have been a part of over the years have always been close and I expect nothing different this week”.


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