Almost two years to the date, as a matter of fact.
Players who were in Grade 9 and had never seen a down of high school football were now Grade 11 veterans; sophomore back-ups the last time the league saw action were now senior leaders.
But the Tornadoes and Colts were back in action nonetheless. And the two teams ended up in a defensive battle in cool and rainy conditions before Swift Current picked up a 21-0 victory.
“It was a great start, a good day for us,” said longtime Colts head coach Derek Murdoch. “It started with the guys super-excited just to get on a bus for the first time in almost two years, and it was a bit of a weird feeling… it’s been a long time, we have a lot of guys who have never been part of a football game before and it was great to be out here.”
The Tornadoes naturally felt much the same way.
“It’s been a long time for the guys and it’s a weird situation, but you could tell everyone was happy to be back,” said Tornadoes head coach Bert Redstone. “The guys stepped up and played hard and that’s all you can ask for, especially for not having played in so long.”
It will come as little surprise that in the early going, the two teams looked like they hadn’t seen real game action in some time -- two-and-outs were largely the order of the first half.
But once the two teams were back after the break, it was a different story.
The Colts ground game began to find traction and began to make the most of a handful of Peacock turnovers in their own half to put up points.
“We played really solid defensively to start,” said Murdoch. “We were in control of the field position stuff early but just couldn’t capitalize, so we talked at the half, buckled down and were able to get some points on the board.”
Joe Cloutier scored the first points of the season on a one-yard run with 8:07 to play in the third quarter and struck again with another major from the goal line five minutes later. Ty Zinger then capped off scoring with 6:18 left in the game, bulling his way in from three yards out.
Cloutier had five carries for 12 yards total; Jayden McBlain led their ground game with eight carries for 26 yards.
Given how his crew was battling field position much of the game, Redstone had nothing but praise for his team’s defence.
“I thought our defence played so, so well.” he said. “ We have so many veteran leaders in the guys over there, Kyle Duncan played amazing, Cameron Billy played amazing, Ethan Johnson played amazing… we were just throwing guys in there on D and they did a great job.”
The Tornadoes weren’t helped by injuries on offence, as their starting quarterback was injured in pre-game, their back-up went down in the first half on an interception tackle. That left Peacock in an unenviable position as they tried to come back.
“We were literally drawing up a play on a board on the sideline and sending a guy in who had never played quarterback before to run that play,” Redstone said. “But, hey, huge congratulations to the guys who stepped up. We played a number of Grade 9s and 10s and they’re all rookies, and we couldn’t have asked for more from those guys. But the bottom line is, when you’re making switches in the first quarter or even pre-game it’s going to be a tough situation for you.”
Kaden Gusa led the Toilers offence with 12 carries for 11 yards and two catches for 51 yards.
Both teams are back in action Saturday, as Peacock takes on Central (1 p.m., Gutheridge Field) and Swift Current hosts Vanier.