PLAYOFF PREVIEW (MB): “We know from experience we want to get to that stadium as soon as possible…to get rid of that awe factor “

The Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) is back in action on Thursday with a bowl game. Two teams from rural communities will meet in the final to determine the Andy Currie Division champion.

Beaver Brae is heading west to Winnipeg from Kenora Ontario while the Vincent Massey Vikings will head east from Brandon Manitoba. The two teams will meet at the beautiful Investors Group Field which is home to the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Coach of the Beaver Brae Broncos Chris Penner talked about the awe factor of playing in such a stadium.

“We know from experience we want to get to that stadium as soon as possible and on to the field so they can get rid of that awe factor and get down to business,” said Penner.

Mike Steeves of Vincent Massey offered a different take of the situation.

“I think that we need to enjoy the moment, not many times do you get to play for a championship and at IGF,” said Steeves.  “It will be a great experience for our program.”

Beaver Brae earned their way to the Bowl game by taking out the Crocus Plains Plainsmen 22-12 in the semis.

Penner liked the way his team bounced back from an early deficit in the semis.

“They were down early and they were able to just gather themselves and take control of what needed to be done and keep moving forward, that was the proudest moment,” added Penner.

If Beaver Brae is going to have the same results this week Chris Penner’s team will have to play tough defence.

“They’re a little bit more physical and they like to run the ball more so we’re gonna have to make sure that we are on the mark for what we have to do defensively,” said Penner.

It’s been 15 years since the Winnipeg High School Football League branched out to Kenora. I asked Beaver Brae’s Chris Penner about the benefits of being able to play in the WHSFL.

“It’s given us great variety in the teams we play there’s a new opponent each week in the past we were just playing Dryden and Fort Francis over and over again, although those rivalries are really important it sure is nice to have other challenges,” mentioned Penner.

Vincent Massey’s Steeves expanded on the benefits of the WHSFL.

“I think the WHSFL has benefited, by giving their players an opportunity to play in other regions and experience the bonding road trips give teams,” added Steeves.  “Rural teams get to play much more competitive football, players are exposed to the 12 man game, to provincial teams and are more likely to be seen.”

During Massey’s semi-final against Dryden, the game was stopped and an ambulance had to be called for a player.  The Vikings player was injured with a pinch nerve in his neck.

Once play resumed, Vincent Massey was ready to focus on the next play and that’s what impressed coach Steeves the most.

“All year our team has demonstrated a great ability to focus on “the next play”,” said Steeves.  “With three minutes left in the game, one of our players was injured and an ambulance was called, once the game was restarted we focused on each play and that was the difference.”

Discipline can make or break a game. The Vikings will try to be more disciplined as they take on the Beaver Brae Broncos.

“We need to play much more disciplined football,” added Steeves.  “We had too many costly penalties against Dryden, they killed our drives and extended theirs.”

“Beaver Brae is a great football team and giving them any advantage could be costly.”

Chris Penner of the Beaver Brae Broncos gave one final thought about his players being able to play at Investors Group Field.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to take the guys to Bomber games and Bison games over the years so they’ve been in there and it’s a wonderful experience and I’m glad that they’re getting an opportunity,” said Penner.


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