The Crocus Plainsmen and Neelin Spartans hope to make the most of their second chances today.
Both Brandon teams travel to Winnipeg to kick off the Winnipeg High School Football League playoffs with Kas Vidruk (AA) Division quarter-finals against the very teams they played last week to wrap up the regular season.
The Spartans (4-3) will clash with the St. Paul’s AA Crusaders (5-2), while the Plainsmen (4-3) will battle the Sturgeon Heights Huskies (5-2). The Huskies pounded the Plainsmen 39-13 last week, but Crocus coach Kevin Boyd said his squad had a number of key players nursing injuries.
"The good thing is we’ve got a bunch of guys coming back," said Boyd, whose team will only be without defensive back Levi Black, who is done for the season. "We had a couple of guys missing last game and we had some guys banged up on the O-line, so we’ve got some healthy guys coming back and it’s going to be a little bit different team this week. …
"They did beat us last game, but we kind of beat ourselves, too. We fumbled the ball three times and three times they got touchdowns off of those, so that bit us on the butt there."
The Plainsmen-Huskies matchup will feature league leaders going head-to-head as Sturgeon Heights features the league’s top quarterback in Jon Remple, who has passed for 1,537 yards and 14 touchdowns this season and was the offensive player of the week after tossing four TD passes against the Plainsmen. The Huskies also employ the top two receivers in the league in Jh’Quin Swan (21 catches for 482 yards and seven TDs) and Michael Jacques (19 receptions for 458 yards and four TDs).
That pass-happy attack will be countered by the Plainsmen’s powerful ground game, led by the league’s leading rusher in Victor St. Pierre, who has amassed 1,283 yards and 20 touchdowns on 112 carries, but was limited to 71 yards last week by the Huskies.
The game will also match up the Kas Vidruk Division’s top two defenders in Crocus Plains linebacker Steven Siebrecht (league-leading 54 tackles) and Sturgeon Creek’s Michael Hart (49 tackles). Stopping Sturgeon Creek’s air show and getting
St. Pierre flying again will be the key for the Plainsmen.
"(St. Pierre) was nicked up with his ankle there for a little bit, so we’ve been resting him up and hopefully he is going to be firing on all cylinders again for us," Boyd said.
Meanwhile, the Spartans are looking forward to getting another shot at the Crusaders after limiting them to 14 points, but scoring only two themselves.
"We had a lot of mental mistakes last week and that’s what cost us the ball game," Spartans coach Robert Cullen said. "I don’t know if St. Paul’s beat us, we beat ourselves."
Containing Crusaders running back Trevor Wright, who has rushed for 1,036 yards and eight TDs this season, will be key for Neelin.
The Spartan defence will be led by Brock Hiltner (39 tackles) and Nate Unger (36.5 tackles) who both finished in the top 10 in the league. On offence, Neelin will look to the likes of Dustyn Lamont (599 yards rushing and six TDs) to lead the way.
Cullen said his team is hoping to make another playoff run.
"I think they are pretty excited," Cullen said. "Coming up from the Currie (A) Division and being the runner-ups last year, they’ve got a little bit to prove and they want to make sure they are up there with the elite status of all these other teams. It’s just a matter of going out and playing."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 24, 2013