Lions earn championship berth with win over Raiders
The St. Paul Lions earned a berth in the Wheatland Football League championship game and boosted their provincial ranking to third when they defeated the Lloydminster Holy Rosary Raiders, 61-34, on Saturday afternoon.
Starting quarterback Brenden McKay made his return to the roster after missing the Lions’ final game of the regular season due to pneumonia. In that game, the Lions lost by 16-8 loss to their next opponent and bitter rivals, the Cold Lake Royals.
“Brenden, he’s a really good athlete obviously, and he’s a leader too, and a really good quarterback. He runs the offense very well. He’s a threat, he can really pass well and he can run well. It’s a big emotional boost (to have him back),” Lions coach John Lumby said, adding that the team can’t wait for a chance at redemption against Cold Lake.
“We are licking our chops to have Cold Lake in our house.”
Cold Lake defeated the Lloydminster Comprehensive High School Barons in their semifinal match up to earn the right to take on the Lions this Saturday at St. Paul Regional High School field. The game will be the third time that the rivals meet this season, with St. Paul taking the first game and Cold Lake picking up the second.
Jason Jubinville, who put up 298 rushing yards in the game, says he is very excited to experience the Wheatland Football League championship game for the first time.
“I’ve never been in the finals before so I’m pretty happy,” Jubinville said. “I think we’re going to come out and hit them hard, play physical and try to win a championship.”
While Jubinville was his usual self, driving in five touchdowns to set a new playoff record for touchdowns in a game, Taylor Joly had an outstanding performance that saw him put up a number of big hits on defense as well as two touchdowns and 217 yards on nine carries from the running back position.
“It was a terrific game for him, he may have been the player of the game,” Lumby said, noting Joly had a “huge game.”
The Lions capitalized on turnovers throughout the game, with Levi Croteau returning an interception 85 yards for a touchdown and Dave Thompson picking two of his own and returning one 37 yards for a touchdown.
The Raiders made things interesting in the later stages of the game when they put up a pair of touchdowns to close the gap to eight points, but the Lions weren’t about to let this one slip away from them and answered back with a strong offensive finish that saw them take over the game in the final quarter.
“It’s been five years since we’ve been able to go to the dance, so it’s kind of setting in a bit for us. We’re excited,” Lions coach Todd Tanasichuk said. The Lions hope to see a big crowd come out to the championship game this Saturday at 2 p.m., he added.
“Cold Lake is a good football team, they showed that obviously the last time we played them, and it’s going to take our best game . . . Usually it’s a defensive battle and it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins the game.”
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