For the Weyburn Comprehensive School Eagles football team, Saturday's game against the Aden Bowman Bears will be a chance at personal redemption for the returning players from last year’s team.
This is the third consecutive year the Eagles have made it to the provincial championships. In 2021, they won it all, defeating the Greenall Griffins out of Balgonie. Last season, they came up just short against Bishop J. Mahoney from Saskatoon.
“All the guys that were on the team last year felt we ran out of time, and that game was ours at the end of the day,” said Conner Kerr. The senior is in his third season with the squad, playing quarterback, safety, and handling kicking duties. “If we played that game 99 more times, we could have won that 98 of those times.”
Isaiah Sanderson is another senior on the team. He noted the returning players, especially the seniors, know what the emotions are like when it comes to a championship game.
“We know the extremes of losing and winning, and we know what type of work we need to put in to win this game,” Sanderson stated. “We know deep in our hearts and we trust our coaches enough, and other players with us on the field, that we know we can win this game.”
The seniors on the team all take leadership seriously. Owen Istace is one of those seniors and has carried the load, literally, when it comes to the offensive rushing game. He picked up 268 yards rushing in the south regional last Saturday.
“We take it proudly,” he said when asked about taking on the role of one of the leaders in the team. “We want to give our teammates the best environment. We want them to be successful, and we want them to carry out the leadership along the line too, in the future years.”
Playing in championship games is something former Saskatchewan Roughrider Luc Mullinder knows well. He was part of the Riders squad that captured the Grey Cup in 2007. When he was speaking in Weyburn Tuesday, he passed along some words to the Eagles.
“When you’re out there, man, just remember everybody that sacrificed to get you to that position, remember all the practice house you put in,” Mullinder urged. “Because you’re going to look back at this when you’re older as something that you really enjoy to do, and you’ll never get a second chance to do it.”
The location of the game itself is also special.
Weyburn has only hosted the SHSAA provincial championship game twice before. In 2006 and 2008, the Eagles played A.E. Peacock Collegiate from Moose Jaw at Darold Kot Field but came up short in both of those games. Now, the players have the first chance in 15 years for the championship game to be played at home.
“Having a community behind you at this level is huge because the whole town can be there,” Sanderson told Discover Weyburn. “Your friends and family can be there, and it’s more personalized to you because you’ve grown up with all these people in the community your whole life. When you go on the field, and you see the people in the stands, it really does motivate you to bring home a win for the town.”
“When you make a big play, you make a big tackle, or you catch a big throw, and all of a sudden you hear a bunch of cheers from the stands, and so much support, it just makes you want to make another good play and keep playing better and just keep winning,” Kerr added.
For some of the seniors on the team, the game on Saturday could also be the last time they play football. This wasn’t lost on Istace.
"It’d be nice to finish our season in high school at least with a provincial championship. I think that’d be huge for all of us, especially with how we’ve done the last two years,” he said. “It’d be a really special three years for everyone graduating, and it’d be a big motivator for kids who are playing next year too, to continue that out and win again.”
The successes of the Eagles haven’t just been noticed locally. After running the table en route to the berth in the provincials, the Eagles were ranked #2 among all small schools in the nation by Canadian Football Chat, the only source that compiles national rankings for high school football. The lowest the team had been in the Top 25 all season was 6th, at the very beginning of the year, and they have only moved up all season.
The game on Saturday will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Darold Kot Field.