Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/11/2017 (1072 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding year but on Nov. 8, the Kildonan East Reivers football team found themselves up against the Daniel McIntyre Maroons in the CanadInns Bowl.
"We never saw that one coming," Reivers head coach Jason Hawkins said. "But if you get there, you wanna get it done."
After winning the Winnipeg High School Football League Bowl last season — and KEC’s first football championship — Hawkins had the majority of the team graduate in the spring.
"We only had seven returners," he said, adding many of the players who joined this year came without football experience. "We were trying to build, and just see where the team would go."
"We had great athletes but many people didn’t understand the concept," said Abhishek Sharma, a Grade 12 linebacker in his third year with the team.
"I saw the team start to jell, saw guys learn how to play football," Hawkins added. "That, to me, was a huge. At some point, they understood what football was all about it."
Despite their lack of experience, the Reivers finished their season in the Andy Currie Division with a 5-2 record.
"We found that we could compete with the rest of the division," said Rajbir Singh, a Grade 12 linebacker in his third year with the Reivers. "We just worked at it. Once we found rhythm, we just had to keep it up."
"Playing in Currie allowed us to get a little better every week," Hawkins said. "We saw improvements every week, and went on a nice three-game winning streak at the end of season."
In the first round of the playoffs, Kildonan East had to face the big boys from Kenora. Beaver Brae had handily defeated the Reivers 48-14 in the regular season.
"They were the biggest team I’ve ever coached against," admitted Hawkins, who has been coaching at Kildonan East for over a decade.
Due to bad weather, the KEC vs. Beaver Brae game was delayed until Oct. 30.
"Our boys did a good job playing in the cold weather," Hawkins said. "We managed to get up on them by half, then played good football second half."
"They were one of the tougher teams," said Singh, who received the Rob Scott True Reiver Award at the team’s annual awards banquet on Nov. 15. "Beating them with such confidence was great."
Kildonan East won the game 23-12 to advance to the next round, where they faced Portage Collegiate, who had competed in the higher Vidruk Division all season, on Nov. 3.
"All cylinders were firing for us," Hawkins said. The Reivers beat Portage 40-12 to make the CanadInns Bowl at Investors Group Field on Nov. 8.
However, that was where the Reivers ran out of gas after playing three games in nine days, and Daniel McIntyre beat them 30-0.
"I know we were a better team than how we played," Hawkins said. "Daniel Mac were a good team. But we didn’t play our best."
"Maybe it was the lights, maybe the weather but for sure youth played a factor (in the loss)," Singh said. "There were only six or seven of us who had played in a championship game before."
"All the things we’d been doing, we didn’t do in that game," Hawkins added. "As a coach, I look back and go ‘Shoot, what could I have done differently?’"
Now that the dust has settled, the Reivers are able to look back on an otherwise solid season.
"The kids had a good year," Hawkins said. "I’m always happy to reach higher than you thought you would."
With so many players eligible to return over the next couple seasons, Reiver Nation is already looking to the future.
"We developed so many things this year," Sharma said.
"Now that the younger guys have experienced such a run, the future is bright," Singh added.
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
The Winnipeg Free Press invites you to share your opinion on this story in a letter to the editor. A selection of letters to the editor are published daily.
Letters must include the writer’s full name, address, and a daytime phone number. Letters are edited for length and clarity.