After losing their first game in the Conference 2 Nine-Aside Football League season back in mid-September, the Vanier Vikings have done nothing but win.
And as a result, they’re right in the thick of things in their first-ever season of nine-aside football.
The Vikings improved to 2-1 on the campaign with a 40-14 victory over Maple Creek on Friday night at Elk’s Field, settling into third place in the six-team league behind unbeaten Lumsden and Shaunavon.
So far, so good as the team continues to improve and develop each time out.
“I think we’re getting better every week and we took another good step forward again on Friday,” said Vikings head coach Ryan Gottselig. “We’re kind of in the thick of things and that was the goal heading into the season, so we’re looking to just keep improving.”
Vanier wasted little game getting things going against the Redmen, as quarterback Grayson Hrenyk hit Gabe Yasinski with a hitch pass that Yasinski would take to the house on the first play of the game.
That was all by design, said Gottselig, as the team looked to perform better in the early stages of the game.
“That was one thing we challenged the guys on, getting off to a better start, because we really hadn’t at all in our other games and were really sluggish,” he said. “So that was our focus and to come out and put one up right away was huge for us.”
Maple Creek had gone winless in their previous two games and had been outscored 29-106 in the process, but Vanier was careful not to take that into account when they hit the field Friday.
“You don’t want to take it easy and get off to a slow start and let teams hang around,” Gotteselig said. “So scoring quickly and then getting another one right away after helped that way. Our confidence is growing that we can make those big plays and then get stops on D and keep it rolling.”
One thing the Vikings have had no concerns with this season is winning. After a handful of seasons where their undermanned crew struggled to find victories in the South 5A 12-Aside Football League, finding the win column in three of their first four games of nine-aside football has been more than welcome.
“We have a good core of Grade 12 guys who have been through some tough seasons and they’re leading us now,” Gottselig said. “You can see their compete level and the joy on their faces with the fact we’re lining up and having the success we’ve worked for for a number of years.”
Now, it’ll be a matter of keeping it going against another Conference 2 powerhouse in the Shaunavon Shadows, who boast a 3-0 record while having put up 175 points, most in the league, while having allowed only 33 points, fewest in the league. That contest takes place this Friday night in Shaunavon.
“This is a team that will be a measuring stick for us,” Gottselig said. “They’ve been one of the better teams in the conference for several years now, we’ve seen a bit of film and they have a couple of athletes who are big and can run around. So for us, we’ll want to get off to another good aggressive start and see if we can go punch-for-punch with them.”