High School game PREVIEW [Playoffs] (MB): Sabres ready for second meeting with Spartans

This week, the first round of the WHSFL playoffs start with the Sisler Spartans and Steinbach Sabres meeting up at East Side on Friday at 6:45 pm.

In the first meeting between the two teams, the Sisler Spartans won 28-25 late in the game. Steinbach’s Jamie Peters told me that his team learned that the Spartans #1 is a great athlete and he is capable of making big plays at quarterback, defensive back and as a returner. “We will need to be aware of where he is and do our best to control his impact on the football game,” said Peters.

Heading into this game with Sisler, the Sabres have some confidence after last week’s win against the Sturgeon Heights Huskies. “I think the victory last week is big for our psyche,” mentioned Peters. “We have been in a bunch of tight games this year 17 points or less and we have failed to make the key plays in a game to get the victory.” Last week, Steinbach made a handful of plays to help secure their victory. Peters replied, “The Sabres have been learning how to compete in the Potter Division and until you learn how to compete you cannot win.” Peters’ team has competed hard all year and last week they found a way to win. “We need to keep the momentum and just go out there and battle and make plays,” commented Peters.

The strengths of the Steinbach Sabres this season have been their special teams, pass offense and pass defense.

Sheycoy Selent (L)

For the Steinbach Sabres to make it to the second round of the WHSFL playoffs they’ll need to compete and battle for a full 48 minutes. The Sabres will need to find a way to run the ball and control the clock and take advantages of some mismatches in the passing game. Steinbach will need to win the turnover battle, play great special teams and their defense has to be ready to tackle and make some plays. It will take a full team effort in all 3 phases of this football game for a full 48 minutes to win. Peters concluded, “We are capable, but we need our best performance as a team to be this Friday under the lights on the big stage. I am excited to see it!”

The identity of Sean Esselmont’s Spartans this season has been a team that finds a way to win. “We have had a bunch of really close games and when it came down to it our kids dialed it in and found a way to win,” explained Esselmont. “Late in games our offense has found ways to have game winning drives, and our defense has found ways to close out games.”

Steven Koniuck has made an impact for Sisler in his first season after jumping up from the junior varsity squad. Steven is the younger brother of quarterback Tyler Koniuck, and has been a major player on offense. Last season, Steven was on the junior varsity team as a freshmen, but then tried out for the varsity team in the spring. Tyler’s younger brother Steven has made an immediate impact on the team and the league. As a sophomore, Steven leads the Potter Division in receiving yards, and he had 4 touchdowns. Coach Esselmont had high praise for Steven Koniuck, “He is an exceptional talent, and will be a big part of our offense for the next few years.”

Tyler Koniuck courtesy of Glenn Dickson

After the first contest against Steinbach, Sisler’s Sean Esselmont praised Jamie Peters as being a great coach that has built an amazing program in Steinbach. “In the game Steinbach showed off their very impressive passing attack,” mentioned Esselmont. “It was our first win of the year, and it didn’t come easy, and our biggest take away as a team was that every game is going to be a challenge, but if we all buy in we will find a way to win.”

The run game has been a focal point to the Spartans’ offense this year but as their passing game has come along it has provided them with a lot more balance. Sisler has athletes all over their offense and they’ll try to spread the ball around and throw in some wrinkles because as Sean Esslemont explained, “Its playoffs, can’t hold anything back now.” On defense, defensive coordinator Mitch Harrison has done a great job all year of putting their defensive players in places to make turnovers happen. “I believe our defensive will continue to be ball hawks on the field which hopefully gives our offense great field position throughout the game,” replied Esslemont.

We at CFC think that this game will go down to the wire again and a late turnover could be the difference.  Steinbach will make the Spartans work for it, but Sisler will advance.


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