GOTW MB: Steinbach Sabres look forward to the challenge of undefeated CFC50 No. 18 Dakota Lancers

CFC’s coverage of The Winnipeg High School Football League continues this week as the CFC50 No. 18 Dakota Lancers host the non-ranked Steinbach Sabres. The Lancers are coming off of a 7-3 victory against the Oak Park Raiders. For the first time since they have been in ‘AAA’, the Steinbach Sabres defeated the former CFC50 Vincent Massey Trojans, 20-14, last Thursday.

In 2019, Dakota impressed their new head coach, Mitchell Harrison, with their fight and being fearless on the football field. Dakota has been unafraid to play anyone this year, even against a team like CFC50 No. 19 St. Paul’s which the Lancers had never won against before this season. “All of our games have been very close but our kids have never backed down regardless of how much the odds have been stacked against us,” he said. “The fight on this team is amazing.”

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On Offense, team captain and offensive lineman Cam Sumka has been a great leader this year by playing multiple positions, dominating on special teams and making sure everyone knows their job every play even with the rotating door that the offensive line has been this year. Defensively, Coach Harrison singled out defensive lineman CFC100 Jordan Friesen. Coach mentioned, “He (Friesen) has been wrecking games for offences and has been unblockable at both DE and DT, while also playing both ways and on every special team. He (Friesen) has all the makings of a defensive player of the year.”

Friesesn was a participant in the inaugural CFC Prospect Game that was broadcast on TSN this past June.

The Lancers have had two major injuries this season. Top wide receiver Matt Toyne has been out the last two games with a sprained ankle. Defensive lineman/offensive lineman Ethan Papineau missed the game against Grant Park due to a concussion that was suffered against St. Paul’s. “With that being said, we’ve also been missing two of our best players all season, Peter and Paul Orajekwe, due to some administrative issues,” said Harrison. “The loss of the Orajekwe twins has been an immense challenge for us this year and we hope to have them back soon.”

Dakota is looking forward to Friday’s matchup for many reasons. If they win this game they will secure first place in the league. The Lancers would like to remain undefeated so they can still have a shot to finish the season at 7-0 heading into the playoffs. “Lastly, we have played two very tight games the last couple of weeks and we know there are teams out there that are doubting us right now – we want to win to show everyone that what we’re doing right now is no fluke and we can beat any team in our league,” replied Harrison.

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If the Dakota Lancers want to continue their success against Steinbach they’ll have to ensure that they keep the Sabres quarterback in the pocket and avoid turning the ball over on offense. Harrison explained, “Personally, I believe he is the best QB in the province and if he has room to move around and make plays with his legs he can win the game for his team. We want to win to show everyone that what we’re doing right now is no fluke and we can beat any team in our league.”

After Steinbach’s impressive performance against Vincent Massey, the Sabres coaching staff was very impressed with their team’s level of physical play. “The players were challenged at the beginning of the week to play a very physical game against an excellent opponent, they had a good week of practice and it translated into a very good performance on game day,” replied Stephen Fedus, Head Coach of the Steinbach Sabres.

Defeating Vincent Massey has helped the Sabres affirm the belief in their group of players that they can compete with anybody in their league. The challenge for Steinbach will be to continue pushing to improve each week and understanding that they still have much more they can achieve if they continue to put in the hard work that success requires.

The win against Vincent Massey has helped affirm the belief of this group of players that they can compete with anybody in our league. The challenge for this group will be to continue pushing to improve each week and understanding that they still have much more they can achieve if they continue to put in the hard work that success requires.

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CFC100 Issac Dokken has been all over the field for Steinbach. He has been playing at both running back and linebacker for the Sabres. Issac had his best game of the year against Vincent Massey and has been getting better each game. Sawyer Thiessen is leading the way on offense as the starting quarterback. He is able to make plays with his arms and his feet. “He (Thiessen) has been our starter since his Grade 9 year, the growth and development he has gone through as a passer and a leader in that time has been amazing to watch,” said Fedus. Jayden Martens is Steinbach’s leading wide receiver and has proven to be a very difficult player to cover for most defenses. Ethan Grunninger anchors an experienced offensive line.

Martens recently committed to the Manitoba Bisons.

On defense, Payton Falk is the Sabres Sam linebacker and has been having an excellent year. “He (Falk) fills in on the run very well and is capable of covering the better receivers in our league. Payton also plays on the offensive side where he lines up as a receiver and running back.” Defensive end Thomas Peters has done very well at setting the edge and providing consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback in passing situations.

The Steinbach Sabres have lost two grade 12 defensive backs for the season early in the year, but have been lucky to avoid any major injuries since. Coach Fedus mentioned, “We have been very fortunate since that time as injuries since have been the 1-2 week variety.”

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This week Steinbach is looking forward to the challenge of playing an unbeaten team. The two teams met in a competitive pre-season game that they lost 22-14. “The kids know they can compete with Dakota but are aware that they will have to bring their best game as they are facing a team that is athletic and very well coached,” replied Fedus.

In this game the Sabres will have to continue playing physical football in order to have a chance of winning. “Dakota has some very physical linemen on both sides of the line and a linebacker group that fills in on the run without fear. We will have to meet this challenge better than we did in the pre-season if we want to change the outcome on the scoreboard,” said Fedus. Steinbach’s defense and special teams have done very well all season at giving the offense opportunities to capitalize on shorter fields and they will need a couple of those opportunities against the Lancers.

This game will be held at Dakota Collegiate on Friday the 25th. Kickoff is at 5:00 pm.

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