The forecast for the St. Albert Storm is a winning season in midget spring league football.
The promising team of Grade 9, 10 and 11 players kick off the Tier I and II schedule Thursday against the Edmonton Mustangs at 7 p.m. at Clarke Park.
“We’re going to be pretty good. We have a lot of young guys coming up and they’re looking good. The veterans look strong too,” said Garrett Meek, a hulking Grade 11 lineman from the Ross Sheppard Thunderbirds.
The Storm unveiled its line-up in Saturday’s jamboree in Spruce Grove.
“It went pretty well. We came together as a team,” Meek said. “We had some great plays and some bad ones too. We were just trying to get our mesh on.”
Midget teams in the Capital District Minor Football Association are allowed to dress a maximum of 45 players. The most Grade 11s per team is 25 and the minimum numbers of Grade 9s and 10s are 10.
Spring break commitments and injuries reduced the player ranks at the jamboree but the Storm still soldiered on.
“It was great. Everyone was going hard. There were some bumps and bruises but that comes with the game,” Meek said. “It was good to see guys play in different situations they’re not used to. It was also good to see the guys actually trying 100 per cent. In practice it’s not always 100 per cent because you’re going against your teammates and you don’t want to hurt them.”
In the controlled scrimmage format the Storm lost to the Mustangs, beat the Edmonton Chargers and tied the Battle River Shock.
“We probably could’ve come out a little harder against the Mustangs. It was the first game and we weren’t really awake but we actually started to give them a fight near the end so that was good,” Meek said.
“Against the Chargers we played pretty well. We had some brain farts but we still got three or four touchdowns against them.
“The Shock was our last game and we were all a little tired but we still came through with a good game against them.”
Last year’s jamboree marked the first time the Storm huddled up outside after a lengthy training session indoors. This year the Storm benefitted from several sessions on the Riel Park turf field in preparation for the upcoming season.
“Practicing outdoors makes a big difference. We already had our groove on (Saturday),” Meek said. “Indoors was kind of congested. It was hot and it smelled bad in there so we were ready to go outdoors as fast as we could. It was just a wonderful day for football.”
Meek, 17, is playing in his third and final season of midget football. The left tackle, defensive tackle and long snapper celebrated a Tier II championship with the Storm in 2010 as a bantam graduate of the St. Albert Fury. Last year the Storm finished third at 1-3-1 and in the Tier II final lost to the Parkland Predators.
In league play the top two teams in the Tier I and II division advance to the Tier I final and the next two teams compete for the Tier II title.
“I know all of us senior guys, the Grade 11s, we really want to go out with a bang in our last year with the Storm because it’s probably going to be our last time ever representing St. Albert,” said Meek, the Thunderbirds’ most valuable defensive lineman award winner last year and the senior team’s defensive rookie of the year in Grade 10.