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Moose Jaw falls to Yorkton in South Sask Spring Football League action

Gridders pull away in second half to take 28-0 win at Gutheridge Field
The Moose Jaw Marauders had opportunities to put up points in their South Sask Spring Football League home opener, but as much as the Yorkton Gridders would bend, they just wouldn’t break.

All told, that would lead to a 28-0 victory for the visitors at Gutheridge Field on Saturday night.

The contest was the first high-school-aged contest played in Moose Jaw since the fall of 2019, and was the culmination of some fast and hard work by Kinsmen Moose Jaw Minor Football to cobble together some sort of season for the older players in the community.

“Just the excitement you see on these kids faces that they haven’t had in quite some time is something else,” said Marauders head coach Colin Belsher. “Kids are coming out and being with their buddies and not worrying about anything except the football in front of them and that’s just great to see.”

The two teams found themselves in a bit of a stalemate in the early going, as Yorkton took a 7-0 lead into the first half. They were able to add a pair of majors in the third quarter to build a 21-0 lead and would tack on a final touchdown in the fourth.

“No discredit to them, they’re very good and very well-coached,” Belsher said. “You can tell they’re using systems and they’re very crisp and clean, where we’re throwing a Moose Jaw team together from three or four different schools with different coaching backgrounds and stuff like that. 

“So it’s going to take a little bit longer for us to come together, especially offensively.”

Thing is, the Marauders -- who feature a core from Central taking the field alongside players from Peacock, Vanier and Cornerstone -- did have their chances,putting together a handful of big plays but just failing to find the end zone.

“It would have been nice to put some points on the board, but it’s like I said to the kids, we were just looking for effort and intensity and physicality and we thought all those things were there,” Belsher said. “Those are the things that can’t be coached, the rest is all making adjustments and trying to be better.”

Yorkton, meanwhile, was just the opposite: when they broke off their long runs and hit their bomb passes, a few plays later points would go up on the board. Combine that with a few too many short fields for the Gridders, and things can get tough in a hurry.

“We never really capitalized on the field positions we saw offensively and defensively, we always seemed to give them a short field to work with and that’s a lot to ask for from our defence to continually stop them,” Belsher said. 

The SSSFL isn’t leaving a lot of time for systems to get put into place with their compact schedule -- the Marauders host Weyburn on June 30 and travel to Yorkton on July 4, with the season ending on July 10 with the Junior Varsity Jamboree and Varsity Championship game. 

With that in mind, it’ll be a matter of just refining more than throwing new wrinkles into the mix.

“It’s such a compacted season, to try and put too many things in would be overwhelming so we’re trying to keep it as vanilla as possible,” Belsher said.  “As we progress we can get a little bit more complicated, these kids will pick it up and we’ll be okay.”

All in all, however things turn out in the standings, it’ll all be worth it.

“For some of them, this will be the last time they ever play football, and for others, they missed this year and this is chance to get ready for the season in the fall,” Belsher said. “We have a couple games left and we’ll just enjoy this time and appreciate that we have this chance.”