The Airdrie Raiders minor football team is heading to the Calgary Bantam Football Association (CBFA) Division 2 championship game, after dismantling the Cochrane Lions 30-6 Oct. 26, at Shouldice Athletic Park in Calgary.
The Raiders scored four touchdowns in the first half and contained the Lions to just a single major in the final two minutes.
“We really took control in the first half – we were up 30-0 by the time halftime rolled around, so we took that as an opportunity to get some of our second-stringers in and give them the opportunity to play some meaningful minutes,” said head coach Douglas Robertshaw. “We really challenged them to play their best and make sure [the Lions] didn’t score.”
Tyson Heather recorded two touchdowns, while Airdrie’s other majors came from Paul Conden – who Robertshaw said just came back from an injury – and first-year bantam player Matthias Young, who scored on a 45-yard play.
“It’s really good for some of these young guys to get that experience,” Robertshaw said.
The victory means the Raiders did one better than last year, when the team’s season ended with a loss in the semi-finals.
Airdrie will take on the Calgary Bulldogs Nov. 2 for the Division 2 championship. Kick-off is set for noon at Shouldice Athletic Park.
It should be an evenly-fought contest – the Raiders and Bulldogs played to a 15-14 victory in favour of Airdrie during the regular season. While the two teams are well matched, 15-year-old linebacker Dawson Jensen said he expects Airdrie to pull through.
“Like every week, we just need to execute and do our jobs,” he said. “We’ve grown a lot since last year.”
As in 2018, the Raiders finished the regular season in third place of the Brock Jacobs Division with a 5-3 record. The team recorded 192 points, or 24 per game on average, while conceding 157 – an average of just fewer than 20 points per game.
After losing two of its opening three fixtures, Airdrie found its footing, going on a four-game win streak before ending the regular season with a 51-14 loss at the hands of the Calgary Wildcats.
The Raiders opened the CBFA post-season with a 39-8 defeat to the Calgary Stampeders, which put the team into the Division 2 playoff bracket.
“This year, we have a really strong team, and I think we have a good chance of winning that Div. 2 final and making it to provincials,” Robertshaw said.
If Airdrie defeats the Bulldogs, it will compete against Edmonton’s Division 2 winner Nov. 9 to determine the provincial champion.
Storm’s season ends
The Airdrie Storm’s 2019 season came to an end Oct. 26, with a 44-40 loss to the unbeaten Calgary Wildcats in the Calgary Peewee Football Association (CPFA) Division 1 semi-finals.
The game marked a rematch between last year’s top two teams, and the Wildcats jumped out to a 32-0 lead in the first half.
In a finish that resembled a Hollywood sports movie, the Storm nearly turned the game around following the break, outscoring the Wildcats 40-12 in the final 24 minutes.
“We finally got going in the second half of the game, but unfortunately ran out of time,” said head coach Tyrell Rohl. “The kids played their hearts out in the second half and left it all on the field. I was so proud of them.”
The team ended the regular season in a three-way tie for second place with a 6-2 record. Airdrie then overcame the Foothills Eagles Oct. 19 in the first round of the CPFA playoffs.