If you are a fan of football, specifically high school football, then this upcoming Winnipeg High School Football League (WHSFL) season for the SRSS Sabres could be right in your wheelhouse.
Although the 2018-19 high school year is now in the books and students have scattered for the summer, the WHSFL released the 2019 schedule last week, just in time to whet the appetite for the coming season.
For the football program at the SRSS in Steinbach, this season coming up, win or lose, will be a memorable one as it marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of football to the school.
My how things have changed over the years since those first two seasons when the varsity team went winless the first two years. After those formative years the Sabres went on to win Division III and Division II championships.
This year will mark the third season of the Sabres competing in the WHSFL’s top Division I. It also marks the third season of the new junior varsity program at the school.
There has been one constant through these 10 seasons, and that has been SRSS Sabres football co-ordinator Jamie Peters, who started the program at the school and has worn several hats along the way, including head coach and this year is the varsity defensive co-ordinator. Peters relinquished the head coaching job to Stephen Fedus a couple seasons back and this coming year the duo, along with the rest of their capable staff, are gunning for could be another momentous season.
After winning the championships in both of the two lower divisions, the Sabres first made their debut in Division I two years ago, winning two games in their first go-round, then won three last season.
This year, the Sabres have upped their goal for this season. They will come in as the fourth ranked team among the 12 teams in Division I, which will be divided into two six-team conferences, Potter and Gustafson.
At the league meeting a couple of weeks ago, teams were seeded for the year and the Sabres come in ranked second in the Potter Division behind the perennial powerhouse St. Paul’s Crusaders. Rounding out the division are the Dakota Lancers, Sisler Spartans, Kelvin Clippers and Murdoch MacKay Clansmen.
The defending champion Vincent Massey Trojans lead the Gustafson Conference. The Sabres lost to the Trojans in the quarter-finals last fall but it should be noted the Sabres nearly beat the Trojans in their regular season meeting.
Leading the way for the Sabres again this year will be quarterback Sawyer Klassen, although only going into grade 11, this will be his third season as starting QB, and is widely regarded as the best quarterback in the WHSFL. Throw in a number of veteran players, legitimate stars in the league, and there are some who feel the time is now for the Sabres to make a push for a Division I title.
The SRSS will open the season with a massive game right off the hop as they will be at St. Paul’s on Friday, Sept. 6
Week four of the schedule will see the Sabres host Sturgeon Heights on Sept. 26 in what will be the Sabres 10th season anniversary homecoming game. Peters says they are planning a number of events to mark the occasion on the day, which will include the varsity team playing under the lights at 7:00 p.m. There are no lights on the football field at A.D. Penner Park but Peters says they are planning to rent lights for the game.
Kicking off that 10th anniversary celebration will be the JV Sabres hosting Oak Park at 4:00 p.m.
The varsity Sabres will play four of their seven games at home this year as they will host Murdoch McKay Sept. 12, Vincent Massey Oct. 3 and then Sisler on Oct. 18.
The Sabres will also host Dakota in a pre-season game on Thurs., Aug. 29 at 4:00 p.m. vs. Dakota.
Meanwhile, the JV Sabres will open their regular season Sept. 11 at St. Paul’s.
Training camp for both the varsity and junior varsity Sabres begins Aug. 24.