SAN ANTONIO, Tex. — The Saskatchewan Selects will have to find room in the overhead compartments for some extra luggage as they make their way back to the Great White North.
The Selects’ four teams went into the heart of football country this weekend and walked away with an 8-4 record overall at the 2018 Alamo City Pigskin Classic.
The weekend was capped off by the 16-and-under Selects capturing their division title with a thrilling 22-19 win over the host Alamo City Red Raiders at Benson Stadium.
“I’m so proud of the players, the coaching staff, words don’t do justice for the feeling that we have right now with our hard work paying off,” said 16U head coach Jason Boyda.
Saskatchewan trailed by three points late in the fourth quarter, but Maple Creek linebacker Reed Reisdorf came up huge for the defence with an interception that got the ball back for the Selects with 2:10 to play.
They were able to move the ball quickly into scoring position and instead of going for the tie with a field goal, the Selects drove right to the goal line where quarterback Luke Hornung dove over the line for a one-yard score and the lead with 21 seconds to go.
Another interception by the Selects defence on the final play of the game sealed the win and the celebration was on.
“It felt absolutely electric,” said Reisdorf. “We were holding our breath while the offence was out there and trying to make plays when the defence was out there, it was amazing.
“I just dropped into my zone coverage and when the ball was in the air, I kind of went numb, when I hit the ground after I caught it I had to remind myself that I caught the ball, I was just upside myself.”
Regina Miller’s Emmett Steadman had a massive game for the Selects in the win, finishing with over 150 yards receiving, which included massive yards after the catch.
He said they’re happy to show that the Selects can play with anyone at any level, “I think the difference was the Canadian spirit, a points we fell apart, but at the end, we came together and made up for it,” said Steadman.
Regina Miller running back Issac Birdsell-Tyndale scored a pair of short yardage touchdowns for the Selects as they built up an 8-7 halftime lead.
Alamo City took control of the momentum early in the second as their defence forced a pair of turnovers out of the Selects’ offence.
The Selects were able to right the ship just in the nick of time to secure the win and bring home the championship.
“I’ve been here for three years with the program, so this feels amazing,” said Hornung. “It’s good to win it with the boys, everyone from every school coming together to make the team, the chemistry that we have is unbelievable.”
The 16U Selects went a perfect 2-0 over the course of the weekend to earn the championship.
* * *
The 10-and-under Selects also played for a championship on Sunday, falling 6-0 to the Abilene Hurricanes in the final.
Saskatchewan was right in the game throughout, moving the ball offensively, but couldn’t find a way to punch it into the end zone for a score.
The Hurricanes’ lone score came on a reverse that broke into the open field midway through the fourth quarter.
“This week was pretty fun…We learned a bunch and worked our butts off pretty hard,” said Moose Jaw’s Keaton Belsher, who played both ways at receiver and defensive back in the championship game
The 10U team was the youngest that the Selects sent to the tournament and head coach Matthew Pfeifer says he can’t describe how proud he is of the effort that the kids put togehter.
“We put a team together of a kids that haven’t played more than a couple of years of football, they haven’t American football, most of them haven’t played 12-man football, so to put these guys in this spot here where they could come out and be successful, I’m over the moon,” said Pfeifer.
The Selects went 2-1 overall in the division.
* * *
After a tough loss in their first game on Saturday, the 14U Selects found their stride on the second day of the tournament, winning back-to-back games to finish with a 3-1 record overall.
“We played some power defence,” said 14U head coach Steve Sombach. “Our first game, we lost by one with a missed field goal; the second one, we won a tight one; the third was down to the wire, 0-0, into overtime and we had to kick a field goal to win the game for a little redemption.”
The Selects hit the field for back-to-back games on Sunday, beating Alamo City 8-6 in overtime in their first game of the day; and then taking out the Manitoba Selects, 30-14, in the second game.
Sombach said the team showed great progress over the four games and really came to play throughout the weekend.
“It was extremely competitive, two of the teams that we played out of the four were actually part of the Friday Night Tykes TV program, so we’ve got a little bit of star power in there,” he said. “The kids not only had to play that star power, but they had to play pretty good defence, our offence struggled a bit, but we got the job done.”
* * *
The 12-and-under Selects ended up losing their final game on Sunday, falling 26-6 in a back-and-forth game against the San Antonio Southwest Legacy.
Their last game was a tough test against a skilled team, but the Selects left with their heads held high as they battled in the game right until the end.
“This was really fun, we learned a lot and executed really well,” said Weyburn’s Zach Cloutier.
“It was difficult, some teams were bigger, but we still fought and kept on fighting as hard as we could.”
The Selects had run away with their opening game on Saturday, beating the San Antonio True Blue, 32-7, but then they lost 25-7 to the North Oak Cliff Eagles in their second game.
Head coach Matt Rumpel said it was four months of growth for the team and they showed well over the past five days in Texas.
“I’m very proud, this group of boys is awesome and they showed it today, we fought back, kept battling and it was just an all around great game and great experience with these guys,” said Rumpel.
The 12U Selects finished with a 1-2 record and were the lone team with a losing record, but it came against some very stiff competition.
“You can see the skill that we started with to what we have now, it’s just way better, it’s unbelievable, these kids are really quick learners and doing the skits, they came together closer and we’ve got a really good brotherhood going here,” said Rumpel.
The Selects will now go their separate ways until next winter when they look to defend their championships again in San Antonio.