The Hague Panthers came within a whisker of upsetting the visiting Viscount Vikings in their final home game of the season on Thursday, October 5.
But their short bench caught up with them in the final quarter. You can only play both sides of the ball for so long before you simply run out of gas.
The Panthers dropped a 40-28 decision to the Vikings in a see-saw battle that saw big plays by both teams.
“We were a touchdown away from winning this one today,” said Panthers coach Clay Kirby. “We had a couple of really good chances that were inches away.” Continue reading “Hague Panthers edged by Viscount Vikings in final home game”→
After winning their season opener 38-22 over Hudson Bay on September 7, the Hague Panthers lost 57-28 to the Hanley Sabers in Hague on Thursday, September 14.
“Hanley has a lot of returning players that were starters last year, and they’re a very strong team,” said Kirby. “I think they’ll be the team to beat in 6-man in the province this year.”
In the game against Hanley, the Panthers were led by quarterback Conor Prosofsky, who threw for three touchdowns and ran another in.
Ryan Bellina had two touchdowns for Hague. Wyatt Olyniuk also contributed one touchdown and dominated the game on both sides of the ball, said Kirby. Continue reading “Hague Panthers win one, lose one”→
A win over the Hafford Hawks on Tuesday, October 11 cemented the Hague Panthers’ lock on the 2A six-man Conference 2 championship, and set the stage for a league showdown October 15 against the fourth-place Macklin Sabres.
And while the Sabres gave it their best shot, the outcome of last Saturday’s game in Hague was never in doubt. The Panthers dominated from the opening whistle, polishing off the visitors from Macklin by a score of 68-28 to advance to another home playoff date this coming Saturday, October 22. That match-up will pit Hague against Assiniboia, which finished second in Conference 3.
But even with two post-season victories under their belt, the real provincial playoffs won’t even start until after the Panthers get past their next opponent.
“There are about 50 six-man football teams in the province,” said Panthers coach Clay Kirby after the game against Macklin on Saturday. “That’s more than all the nine-man and 12-man teams put together. So there’s a lot of competition just to get into the quarter-finals.”
The nice thing, though, is that if Hague keeps winning, they’ll be hosting every upcoming game until the provincial six-man championship final in mid-November.
“It would be great if it happens, but it’s a big ‘if’,” cautioned Kirby. “I do know that win or lose, the kids on this team will be giving it all they’ve got. If we get bumped it sure won’t be because of lack of effort.”
If Hague beats Assiniboia, this weekend, that sets up a serious grudge match with the Rosthern Longhorns, which finished first in Conference 4. Rosthern will host the quarter-final playoff game on Saturday, October 29 at 1:00 p.m.
In another playoff game next weekend, the Conference 3 first place champions Hanley Sabres will be taking on the Conference 2 second-place Hafford Hawks.
In the game against Macklin October 15, the Panthers jumped out to an early first-quarter lead when quarterback EJ Friesen hit Riley Reese for the first of Reese’s four touchdowns on the game. Devin Fehr added his first of two majors on the game late in the second quarter to give the Panthers a 30-6 lead at half-time. Friesen contributed a 70-yard running touchdown in the final quarter, and Panthers kicker Akilan Benham connected on seven converts to round out the home team’s scoring.
Defensively, Panthers veterans Riley Reese, Devin Fehr, Carter Fehr, Jaxon Funk, Jarrett Penner, Koltin Zaichkowski and Bailey Zacharias were solid on tackles. Special teams also played a key role in the win. Hague’s kickoff return defenders, made up entirely of Grade 9 and 10 players, were like a brick wall.
Todd Stang had three touchdowns for the Sabres, while his quarterback Anderson Bast added a major as well for the visitors. Connor Cosh played a strong game for Macklin, making key plays on both sides of the ball.
With potentially five post-season games in the cards, the real challenge for the Panthers heading into the next few weeks will be staying healthy, according to Kirby.
“It’s a war of attrition,” said Kirby. “By the time you get to this point in the season, the teams that are left in the hunt for the championship are all really good. We rely on a lot of our players to play both ways. They’re on for both offense and defense, so we have to make sure we have the other guys ready to rotate in and spell them off when they need it. We have to make sure the guys stay healthy.”
Kirby said the team’s strength lies in the commitment and strength of its Grade 12 players.
“This is a group of guys that I’ve coached since they were in Grade 8 together,” said Kirby. “They all played on a team I coached in the Saskatoon Minor Football League before they started playing for the Panthers back in their Grade 9 year. It’s been a real pleasure to work with these kids.
“Riley Reese isn’t the biggest player, but he’s all heart and he loves the game. Devin Fehr was our starting quarterback up to this year, but he’s too valuable in other positions not to play him wherever he’s needed. EJ Frieisen is only in Grade 10 but he can sure do the job at quarterback, so that’ s why he’s our starter.”
Kirby said he’s encouraged by the spirit of the younger players on the team as well.
“I’m at an age where if I just had kids who didn’t make an effort; who were just mailing it in, then I probably wouldn’t be doing this,” he said. “But when you have kids like this, it makes it all worthwhile.”