As the season slowly begins to turn to fall, the anticipation on the gridiron rises.
The 2023 high school football season is right around the corner and the St. Mary Marauders are hoping to make some noise this upcoming season.
The Marauders finished the regular season 2-3 last season before upsetting the Centennial Chargers 22-13 in the first round of the playoffs. They were then eliminated by the St. Joseph’s Guardians in the SSSAD semi-final.
St. Mary head coach Curt Hundeby says the Marauders are returning a lot of impact pieces from last year’s team.
“We’re excited with this crew. We have a lot of this year’s guys that were Grade 11s last year, (and) we got a bunch of them that are back as Grade 12s. We have a much more veteran group; still not a huge group as far as numbers goes or as far as big bodies.”
So far early in training camp, Hundeby says the Marauders have been eager to get on the football field.
“I’m excited to work with these guys. They’ve had a good, hard offseason and they seem to be coming together here at camp already and they’re keen, they want to work hard, they want to do well and they’re enthusiastic. That sort of enthusiasm is easy to coach.”
After several years of discussion, both the Marauders and crosstown rival Carlton Crusaders have exited the Saskatoon Secondary Schools Athletic Directorate (SSSAD) to join the newly founded North Saskatchewan Football League (NSFL).
The change in league means that Prince Albert schools will no longer compete in a conference with teams from Saskatoon, instead competing in a four-team league that features Martensville and North Battleford.
Hundeby says he is looking forward to the Marauders playing against teams in similar situations.
“I think the fun is going to be to develop some rivalries. We played North Battleford every once in a while, we’ve also had some really tough games against them. They’re a good squad. Us and Carlton, that’s been a longstanding rivalry. I’m looking forward to establishing some other ones as well and I think being able to play against some teams in similar situations to us.”
While competing in the SSSAD, a Prince Albert team has never won the league to advance to provincials. Hundeby says the new league will give the Marauders a chance to punch a provincial ticket.
“It can be a challenging thing when you’ve got a city of 300,000 people (Saskatoon) and most of the best players end up gravitating (towards) about three or four or five schools (that) makes it challenging to compete against some of those teams. I feel like we’re on a bit more of a level playing field here now and I hope that the work that these guys put in is going to really pay off into success during the season.”
On paper, the St. Mary Marauder football team does not have any name that will jump off of the page. Hundeby says that will be a strength of the team this season.
“I think part of our biggest strength is going to be that that it’s going to be a football team by committee. Across the board, there’s not one guy that’s the superstar that we’ve got (that) gets all the carries or he makes all the tackles. We’re trying to build on the idea that we can be really successful if we don’t care who gets the credit. It’s all about being selfless and about doing as much as you can in the jobs that we’ve given you. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys that just want to bring their lunch pail to work, put their nose to the grindstone and work hard. I think there’s a lot of potential with that.”
One player who will look to make an impact for the Marauders this season is Grade 12 quarterback Liam Martin, who will look to be a key cog in the St. Mary offence this season. Martin says he is looking forward to the upcoming year.
“I’m really excited to play with the group of guys we have this year. I think we improved a lot in many, many different positions. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I like playing with these guys and I’m just ready to go and play for the team.”
After last season’s playoff win against Centennial, Martin thinks the sky is the limit for the Marauders in their first season in the NSFL.
“I think in all honesty, we just want to kind of win the league. Beating Centennial last year was a lot of fun. We enjoyed it, but it kind of ended there. We want to win it all.”
The Marauders will kick off their home schedule with an exhibition game against Saskatoon’s Walter Murray on Sept. 15 at Max Clunie Field. Kick off is at 6 p.m.
Full Marauder Schedule:
Sept 1: Scrimmage vs Martensville/Carlton*
Sept 8: @ St. Paul, Alberta 4 p.m.*
Sept 15: vs Saskatoon Walter Murray 6:30 p.m.*
Sept 22: Canadian Tire Classic vs Carlton 6:30pm
Sept 28: @ North Battleford 6:30 p.m.
Oct 5: @ Martensville 4 p.m.
Oct 13: vs Lloydminster 6:30 p.m.
Oct 20: NSFL Semi-final
Oct 28: NSFL Final
Nov 4: Provincial Semi-Final
Nov 11: Provincial Final
*indicates pre-season or exhibition game