The St. Albert High Skyhawks finished one win away from advancing to the Alberta Bowl for the third consecutive year in the Tier III provincial playdowns.
All three losses in the north final were against the Holy Rosary Raiders and Saturday’s 35-10 result in Lloydminster was the closest of the bunch.
The metro Edmonton division two Miles conference semifinalists gave up a couple of early touchdowns and couldn’t bounce back against the Wheatland league champions four years in a row.
The Skyhawks fell behind 21-0 at halftime and after three quarters trailed 28-7.
The Skyhawks started the second half with Robin Arguelles turning a 30-yard pass from quarterback Ewan Vanderheide into an 82-yard TD by dodging tackles while sprinting down the sideline.
Koen Klinge split the uprights with a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders didn’t make any substitutions until late in the game.
The Skyhawks shone defensively in the second half with linebackers’ Danny Johnson and Josh LeBrun and defensive back Christian Pulis leading the charge.
Offensively, Nick Romaniuk had a couple of quality catch and runs and Johnson busted through the line for solid runs up the gut.
Previous losses to the Alberta Bowl finalists the last two years were 61-0 in 2016 at Clarke Stadium and 28-0 in 2015 in the Border City.
The Skyhawks ended the season with a record of 6-4 after the team’s fifth north final in its sixth Tier III appearance since 2011.
In Tier III (450 to 749 students), the Raiders and Skyhawks are third and fourth, respectively, in the Football Alberta top-10 rankings.
The only St. Albert teams to reach the Alberta Bowl provincial finals are the Storm in 1990, 1992 and 1997 in Tier I and the 2012 Skyhawks in Tier III.
The St. Albert Skating Centre hosts the Edmonton STARSkate Invitational and Alberta Winter Games’ runoffs for zones 5, 6, 7 and 8 this weekend at the Go Auto and Troy Murray rinks.
The STARSkate Invitational is coordinated by the Alberta/NWT/Nunavut Section and the St. Albert club. It’s the first competition of the season in the STARSkate stream for the Edmonton region but also includes clubs from across the province and territories.
STARSkate offers opportunities for skaters of all ages to develop fundamental figure skating skills in the areas of ice dance, free skate and interpretive skating.
There are approximately 640 entries and 65 are registered for the zone runoffs for the Feb. 16 to 19 Alberta Winter Games, hosted by Wood Buffalo.
Overall, 45 clubs from the Alberta/NWT/Nunavut region will be represented, including 52 competitors from Yellowknife and 43 members from St. Albert.
Skate times are noon to 9:05 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 9:05 p.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. Sunday.
There is no admission charge.
Meanwhile, 13 skates represented St. Albert at the Alberta/NWT/Nunavut Sectionals earlier this month in Lethbridge.
Sectionals identify the top skaters in each province for advancement to the next round of qualifying events for the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.
Tehya Wiltzen placed first in the juvenile U14 women’s category and is the winner of the Leading Edge Series/Competitive series based on point results in six provincial competitions.
Tobiah Wong and Adele Romanin also advanced to the next round in the Challenge Competition. Wong placed second in pre-novice men and Romanin was fourth in pre-novice women.
Additional results from sectionals are as follows:
Felicia Holterman: fourth, pre-juvenile U11 women.
Juliette Thievin: sixth, juvenile U12 women.
Hailey Veitch: ninth, juvenile U14 women.
Grace Smyth: 13th, juvenile U14 women.
Sadie Makokis: 19th, juvenile U14 women.
Ayla Wiltzen, 20th, pre-juvenile U11 women.
Mataya Kowaluk: 29th, juvenile U14 women.
Emma MacDonald: 32nd, juvenile U14 women.
Madison Kowaluk: 41st, pre-novice women
Kiera Fischer: 46nd, pre-novice women.
Wolves in a zone
The Morinville Wolves smashed their way into the 3A provincials as the North Central zone men’s volleyball champions.
The Wolves overpowered the Barrhead Gryphons, last year’s 3A provincial silver medallists, 25-18, 25-22 in Saturday’s zone final at Morinville Community High School.
Visit www.stalbertgazette.com to view the team’s championship picture.
The Wolves dropped only two sets in seven matches at the six-team qualifying tournament and in pool play defeated Barrhead 24-26, 25-23, 15-10.
The Wolves won all eight matches against Barrhead this year while going 40-8 overall.
The 12-team provincials starts Thursday in Strathmore.
Two years ago, the Wolves competed at provincials as a wild-card team and reached the quarter-finals.
The winners of back-to-back Lions Western Canadian Challenge tournaments have eight returnees on the roster from the 2016 team and five players are graduates of the 2015 St. Albert Physical Education Council Tier I junior high championship team.