The Grande Prairie Norsemen sail west on Tuesday night for a Mighty Peace Bantam Football League (MPBFL) game against the Wembley Bulldogs.
The Norsemen are sitting third in the MPBFL with three wins in five games while the Bulldogs are alone in sixth with one win in four games. The Bulldogs are averaging exactly 10 points a game in scoring while surrendering 87 points in those four games.
That’s better than a 2-1 ratio in the wrong direction and even though Norsemen Head Coach Kory Gravengard isn’t a math major, he’s gotta like those numbers. Right?
“We don’t like to put tags on opponents but I feel there are going to be some challenges against Wembley,” Gravengard said. “We’ve got a game plan and I’m confident our guys are going to come in and we’re going to be able to hit the field running.”
Break on through
Like a hefty running back at full speed, the Norsemen smashed through the .500 barrier after a 55-12 win over the High Prairie Outlaws at CKC Field on a blustery Saturday afternoon.
In the lead up to the eventual roping of the Outlaws, the theme at practice seemed to be more of a lesson in football mentality than physicality.
“One of the things we talked about is to be the hammer and not the nail,” Gravengard said. “Unfortunately, last week we were more the nail. To be blunt, it’s better to give the (hit) than to receive the (hit). We had a bit more focus because of that and the (players) were more in the game than they might have been in our last game. It showed on the field. We played a lot better, we worked well together and it was just a better performance.”
Last Saturday, the club dropped a 34-0 decision to the first-place Sexsmith Shamrocks.
The Shamrocks took control of top spot in the MPBFL after a 14-10 win over the Grande Prairie Broncos in Sexsmith on Saturday afternoon.
Coming back to bite
With eight minutes left in the game, the Norsemen possessed a 52-6 lead but the atmosphere on the Norsemen sideline wasn’t what Gravengard wanted to see.
“There’s a lot of first year players and one of things I love about football, it isn’t just about what you’re doing on the field, it’s about what you’re doing on the sidelines and what you’re doing at practice,” Gravengard said. “Focus is so important and that’s one of things you have to have when you’re on the sidelines. Sometimes, when you have a young squad they can lose focus. It’s one of those things as coaches where we have to learn to reign them in and not discourage them from having fun. At the end of the day, football is about having fun. Sometimes they need to be reminded and a stern voice will do that.”
The lack of focus allowed the Outlaws to score on a 60-plus yard run on the last play of the game, bringing the score to its final resting count.
“That was one of those ones where we were looking past the play that was in front of us,” Gravengard said of the run down the left sideline. “Both, coaches and players need to do better.”
In the aftermath of the game, someone in the Norsemen circle of coaches and players mentioned the club didn’t have enough players on the field for the post-klaxon touchdown run. Either way, it was a lesson Gravengard hopes the entire team—coaching staff included—remember as the opponents offer up tougher challenges and the weather comes more into focus with winter well on its way.
“It was just as much the coaches as the kids on that play,” Gravengard said. “As a leader, you have to take onus on that one as well. I think the kids appreciate when we can take onus on mistakes as well. I know I make a lot of mistakes and I own up to it as much as I can.”
Wanna help out
The Mighty Peace Bantam Football League is looking for some additional financial help.
The local minor football association has a scoreboard space available—located in front of the St. Joe’s practice field on the north side of 68 Avenue —for advertising, should anybody want to help the association earn some extra funds.
“We have the sign on the St. Joe’s practice and it’s owned by the Grande Prairie Football Association,” Mighty Peace Bantam Football League President Trevor Sak said. “We’re auctioning it off on Facebook, on the MPBFL Facebook page. It’s the cover page and it’s an auction going until Oct. 14. (Potential bidders can) click on the picture itself (and place what their bid is). The top big on that day, at midnight, will win the advertisement (space) on the scoreboard for two years.”
The money raised will go towards all the basics the clubs needs to sustain themselves over the course of a football season.
“That money will go in to the Grande Prairie Football Association, which all the teams in Grande Prairie are a part of and that money will get split up among the teams for different things like equipment, travel, or whatever. (The money) will get split up among all the teams.”