For the first time ever, the North Saskatchewan Football League (NSFL) title will be awarded this weekend when the St. Mary Marauders take on North Battleford Comprehensive in the league final in North Battleford on Saturday night.
St. Mary is coming off a 32-28 victory over their cross-town rival Carlton Crusaders last week, who entered the playoffs as the league’s top seed.
Marauder head coach Curt Hundeby says St. Mary will look to rely on their offence and special teams.
“I think our teams are pretty evenly matched. First of all, we need to make sure that we maintain possession of the football, that we limit our turnovers, the fumbles and the interceptions because if we can keep possession, it’s going to be hard for them to score if they don’t have the ball. Number two is to make sure in the kicking game that we do a good job of gaining ground in the yardage exchange.”
The game will have a bit of a winter feel in North Battleford, as the projected temperature at kickoff is minus three degrees Celsius.
Heading into the game, Hundeby says the Marauders will put a premium on stopping North Battleford’s running game with the weather conditions.
“Defensively, we’ve got to stop their run. They’re a run-first team. They’ll throw the ball, and they throw the ball pretty well, but they rely on their ground game, and anytime you get weather like this where its cooler, hands are colder for receivers, the ball is a little colder to catch, the throwing game is just not quite as consistent.”
In last week’s game against Carlton, the Marauders trailed 14-0 after the first quarter and have started many of their games this season in an early deficit.
Hundeby says St. Mary is hoping to get off to a strong start and gain early momentum in North Battleford.
“We’ve been notoriously a slow starting team and I’d love for that to not be the case. I think we’ve been down either 14 or 17 points pretty much every game this season, other than Lloydminster game. It’d be really nice to come out of the gates and put up some points, get a good drive together offensively, get a good stop defensively, and get some momentum behind us. We want to do a better job of getting out of the gates and making sure that we’re not down and having play comeback football.”
The Marauders are still aware that there is some business still at hand. Grade 12 running back Cameron Neudorf says the Marauders held a player meeting earlier in the week to make sure the team does not fall flat after an emotional high in the victory over Carlton.
“We definitely are aware of that, so we tried to bring it down. We (are trying) to not be overconfident. We don’t want to go in there high headed and expect to win and then lose. We had a chat with our team to bring it down so that we can go in there and get it done. We’re looking forward to just going there and working hard. Our season did not start as we wanted it. We’re going to go try and turn it into a good ending, get our name on that cup.”
Kick off is set for 2 p.m.