Skyhawks tackle Tier III north final

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The tradition continues for the St. Albert High Skyhawks.

The fifth north final in the sixth appearance for the Skyhawks in the Tier III provincials kicks off Saturday in Lloydminster.

For the third year in a row, the Skyhawks and Holy Rosary Raiders will go head-to-head with a spot at the Alberta Bowl on the line.

Game time is 3 p.m. at Holy Rosary High School.

In Tier III (450 to 749 students), the Raiders (7-4) are ranked third and the Skyhawks (6-3) are fourth.

The Raiders are winners of four consecutive Wheatland league championships and the Skyhawks are division two Miles conference semifinalists in the metro Edmonton league.

The winner huddles up against the No. 1 Cochrane Cobras (9-0) or the No. 2 Cardston Cougars (9-1) Nov. 24 in the Alberta Bowl at Lacombe.

Cochrane won last year’s Alberta Bowl 55-0 against the Raiders.

The Skyhawks were the 2012 Alberta Bowl finalists.

Two years ago, the Skyhawks were shut out 28-0 by the Raiders in the north final at the Border City and last year’s provincial results were the 22-7 victory against the Peace Wapiti Academy Titans at Johnny Bright Park and the 61-0 loss to the Raiders at Clarke Stadium.

The Skyhawks are headed to the provincial showdown with the Raiders after defeating Peace Wapiti 25-9 Saturday in Grande Prairie.

Peace Wapiti, ranked seventh, is the Peace Bowl finalist in its first trip to the Mighty Peace league championship.

A request for game stats from the Skyhawks was not provided to the Gazette by press time.

But according to information provided by sources, the Skyhawks led 8-1 at halftime as the snow slowed down the visitors with dropped balls and slippery field conditions.

Ewan Vanderheide, a top-notch Grade 10 quarterback, Christian Pulis, a dangerous Grade 12 running back and the team’s nominee for the  MVP award in the Miles, and Matt Swecera, a Grade 10 two-way force, ran for touchdowns.

Vanderheide’s TD was scored off a scramble from around the 15-yard line, the speedy Pulis busted loose for a long romp into the endzone and Swecera set-up his TD with a big burst up the gut to put the Skyhawks in scoring range.

Swecera was slotted into the backfield when Danny Johnson, a Grade 12 workhorse on both sides of the ball, went down with an ankle injury.

Apparently, the Skyhawks had three TDs called back because of some interesting calls by the officials.

Johnson and Josh Lebrun dished out some monstrous hits, Jackson Ganton and Swecera also forced Peace Wapiti into committing turnovers and Josh Randhawa was credited with an interception.

The Skyhawks have 14 Grade 12s on the roster and 15 returning players from last year’s 4-6 team that was crippled with injuries late in the season.

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Jeff Hansen

Jeff Hansen joined the St. Albert Gazette in 1991. He writes about sports, athletes and teams from St. Albert and area.