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This article was published 18/11/2016 (1359 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For first-time Winnipeg High School Football League Bowl champions the Kildonan East Reivers, success was a result of an "all in" mentality.
Head coach Jason Hawkins said that working towards a championship has been the primary objective since the end of last season.
"It was definitely a year-long effort," Hawkins said. "Last year they were doing all the right things but physically, they were undersized a bit, just young. So we just kept doing what we were doing, building up."
Hawkins said the core of the team hit the gym and played indoor touch football through the winter. The coaches took in seminars and attended a North Dakota State University coaching camp. The team’s commitment paid off on the field.
"Our passing game was really good (this year)," said veteran receiver Michael Goldstein, a Grade 11 student who completed his third season with the team this year.
After posting a 4-2 record in the Andy Currie A division in the regular season, the Reivers went on to win their first WHSFL Bowl championship with a 35-32 victory over the St. John’s Tigers on Nov. 9.
"When that final buzzer rang, it was just...Wow!" Alex Bater, a Grade 10 offensive lineman, recalled.
"It was unreal," added Goldstein.
Commitment and community are central to the Reivers’ philosophy on and off the field.
"We talked about how this team had been to three championships in 10 years, and hadn’t won one yet," Hawkins said. "We talked about all the players and coaches who’ve been a part of (KEC football) for the past 10 years."
Over the years, a few former players and coaches have died. It was important, Hawkins said, to honour and maintain connections with past players.
"One local guy who’d been with us, Rob Scott, passed away this winter. His seven-year-old son, Isaac, he’s been coming out with his mom to a number of our games. He adopted us as his team."
The Reivers connected with their young fan, welcoming him along for their playoff run. When the Reivers won the WHSFL Bowl, Isaac was on the field celebrating with them.
"We wanted to win a championship," Hawkins said. "But it wasn’t just about football, it was about community."
The team celebrated its victory on Nov. 16 at its annual awards dinner.
"It is a celebration," Hawkins affirmed. "It’s about celebrating our community, our football family."
This year, the annual True Reiver Award was renamed the Rob Scott True Reiver Award, while the Hardest Hitter Award was renamed the Lawrence Sangster Hardest Hitter.
Sangster was a teacher at KEC and the football program’s first head coach. He passed away this past summer after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Fullback Brad Borges won the Rob Scott True Reiver Award, while defensive back Jackson Oneschuk was named the Lawrence Sangster Hardest Hitter.
Community journalist — The Herald
Sheldon Birnie is the community journalist for The Herald Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7112
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