As teachers from around the province prepare to go back to work, Winnipeg high school football players and coaches have been hard at it for two weeks already.
This year the experience at Collège Churchill High School has been truly unique.
Head coach Tom Walls, originally from New York state, took the Bulldogs team of 26 players and five coaches back to his hometown of Chenango, New York, for some exhibition football. They were involved in an annual tournament between the counties of Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Vestal.
On a smoking hot Saturday in Chenango, the Bulldogs did well considering the competition.
"We beat one team, tied another and got smoked by Vestal," is how Walls put it, adding that "it was the experience of the whole thing that really matters."
The Bulldogs were looking forward to practising their unique and somewhat criticized bunched-style offense in the U.S.A., especially as Walls had brought the scheme up to Canada a few years ago.
"There have been some growing pains and if I had a dollar for every Canadian who said it wouldn’t work up here, I’d be rich," Walls said.
Coach Walls and company look forward to trying out their offense and the rest of their systems in their opening games.
The Bulldogs home opener is Fri., Sept. 13 at the Bill Madder Athletic Complex –
Collège Churchill High School against Murdoch Mackay. Kickoff is 5 p.m.
Coach Walls admitted that all the organization plus the headaches of fundraising, getting visas, one player misplacing his passport at LaGuardia airport in New York City, a delay in Toronto and the usual joys of travelling with a few dozen rowdy teenagers took a toll on his patience although he says that, in the end, it was definitely worth the experience.
The Bulldogs would like to thank all those parents, friends, alumni and others who supported the trip and made it all possible.
See you on the field!
Dan Sylvestre is a community correspondent for Fort Rouge.