March 20th, 2019

Football and volleyball post-season on deck

By Lethbridge Herald on November 7, 2018.

This week’s ‘High School Notebook’ column by Dave Wells

It’s quarter-finals week on the Alberta Schools Athletic Association provincial championships gridiron trail. Five Southern Alberta High School Football League teams have qualified. All will play Saturday, with three hosting.
In Tier I, LCI entertains Calgary St. Francis at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m.
There are no official ASAA football rankings, thus the provincial playdowns are not seeded. However, Football Alberta produces good lists, with St. Francis at No. 3 and LCI in the No. 4 slot.
ASAA first took football under its wing for the 1985 campaign, but that year’s provincial finals didn’t come off due to weather I remember all-too-well. Finalists that first season were declared co-champions by Football Alberta, but are not recognized in that fashion by the ASAA. LCI thus has six official unlimited enrolment Tier I titles, plus a Football Alberta shared version. St. Francis also has six ASAA top-level banners. These are perennial powerhouse programs. At this point, I can virtually hear Raymond supporters reading that last paragraph thundering: “We have seven, plus three Tier III titles!” Such is the stuff rivalries are made of, eh.
Catholic Central (No. 7) entertains Okotoks Holy Trinity (No. 3) in Tier II action slated for 1:30 p.m. at U of L. Catholic Central has one outright Tier II provincial title, plus a shared 1985 Football Alberta version ala LCI. Holy Trinity has yet to earn lasting provincial title glory, although they’ve been contenders in recent times.
St. Francis and Holy Trinity earned wins over LCI and Catholic Central respectively in early exhibition play this season. We’ll see if the tables turn this time around.
Cardston is on the road to Cochrane in Tier III. Cardston has captured five Tier II and one Tier III provincial championships all told. Cochrane’s won 11 of the last 16 Tier III provincial crowns, including the last four in a row. I’ll let you talk among yourselves as to whether you feel the program should have declared up to Tier II or Tier I multiple times. No doubt they are an extremely well-coached and organized outfit.
There are two SAHSFL teams in Tier IV. Undefeated Taber W.R. Myers (No. 1) hosts (No. 5) Drumheller Saturday. Kickoff at Ken McDonald Field is set for 1 p.m. Myers has three Tier III provincial conquests on its resume, while Drumheller is three-time Tier IV victors. Myers beat Drumheller in an exhibition game not long ago.
As well, Claresholm Willow Creek (No. 6) treks to (No. 4) Canmore. Willow Creek is the defending Tier IV provincial champs and have emerged victorious twice.
• • •
It’s Southern Alberta High School Volleyball League varsity playoff week. Both genders have gone to single knockout (except for semis, as there will be bronze medal matches) Oregon Draw formats this season.
With 12 varsity girls entrants, play-in matches to the Final 8 were required on the female side. They began last night with Magrath (No. 9, based on regular season seeding finish) at Raymond (8) and conclude tonight with Immanuel Christian (12) at W.R. Myers (5) in Barnwell, Picture Butte (11) at Coaldale Kate Andrews (6) and LCI (10) visiting Cardston (7). Matches tonight are served at 7 p.m.
Catholic Central, utilizing both Campus East and West, host the boys action on Thursday and Saturday. LCI (1) gained a bye to the semis, when Kate Andrews (8) were forced to withdraw by player injuries. Other matches Thursday include Cardston (6) vs Chinook (3) at Campus East (6 p.m.), with Campus West hosting Magrath (5) vs. Immanuel Christian (4) at 6 p.m. and and the host Catholic Central lads (2) following entertaining Winston Churchill (7).
The girls Final 8 is set for Chinook Friday and Saturday. The top four seeds are Catholic Central (1), Chinook (2), Winston Churchill (3) and Taber St. Mary’s (4). Two courts of quarter-finals are scheduled to start Friday at 6 p.m.
• • •
4A is the only level of volleyball that has official ASAA rankings. The last of four ratings have been released with Catholic Central at No. 7 and Chinook No. 9 in girls, while the Catholic Central boys are slotted No. 9 provincially.
WELLSIE’S WORLD – I had a really warm feeling when the five Raymond football players (all students at Magrath) were able to attend the Comets football playoff game at the University of Lethbridge Community Stadium last week. At least one hit the field … Happy to see former Lethbridge Broncos captain and LCI grad of a long-past era Willie Desjardins back as a head coach in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings. Since Willie’s even older than me I wondered if Canada’s latest Olympic men’s hockey team head coach was destined to get another bench boss gig in the world’s foremost pro puck chasing loop … Speaking of another LCI product in the news, I enjoyed a big (in my case physically, too) belly laugh and numerous chuckles over the publicity standout Ottawa Redblack offensive lineman Jon Gott (often referred to as “The Wookie” by former high school head coach Cliff Walters back in the day, referencing Gott’s hirsute appearance) received for his beer-binging antics last week. Heck, that might be one of the better CFL PR moves in decades … Speaking of former prominent local head coaches I’m pleased Ken Olynyk, who was U of L men’s hoop mentor from 1979-88 (perhaps better known as father of Kelly Olynyk by some in this era), is off to a 4-0 Canada West start serving as interim head coach of the Kelowna-based UBCO men’s basketball team. UBCO were predicted to finish 17th out of 17 in the preseason CW head coaches poll. It was generally agreed by cognoscenti they might not win a game. Ken, who is a senior by any government chronological measure, is still at the top of the coaching game. And who does UBCO host in league doubleheader action this weekend? Well, that would be the U of L … Looking over Canada West basketball rosters I have one very strong piece of advice for parents of Alberta kids who aspire to make university basketball rosters. Play for provincial teams, if possible. Both U of L teams rolled out four former Alberta U-17 team starters in their starting fives here last weekend in sweeps over Grant MacEwan.

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