By Greg Price
Three players from Taber have made an Alberta Summer Games team in football.
The team has been dubbed the South Knights, comprised of kids in the southern Alberta area, stretching as far north as Nanton and Brooks. Tryouts were held in both Lethbridge and Medicine Hat back in May, and were open to players who were eligible to play bantam football this past fall.
Tucker Mouland was selected as an offensive lineman.
“Tucker has been recognized multiple times for his outstanding play, and to no one’s surprise, he was his usual stalwart self on the O-line. In particular, his poise under pressure is going to be counted on to play centre for us, as a clean exchange makes or breaks every offensive play,” said Jason Jensen, head coach of the W.R. Myers football team, who will also be coaching the defensive line for the Knights for the Games.
Johnny Klassen will help anchor the defensive line for the Knights.
“Johnny Klassen played better at that tryout than I have ever seen him play before. The other coaches were raving about his ability, and intensity,” said Jensen. “He’s going to be a fixture on my D-Line, since he is able to play both the interior and end positions without any trouble, and I expect some big things out of him.”
Rounding out the Taber selections on the team is Aiden O’Connor who will be playing wide receiver.
“The fact he made this team as a Grade 8 is a real feather in his cap, as most of the team is comprised of Grade 9s. He turned some heads among the coaching staff, and managed to beat out some very talented players that had an extra year of experience and development on him, and that says something,” said Jensen.
The Knights have had a chance to gel with two weekends of practice in Medicine Hat and will start up again July 15 with two-a-day practices on the Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of that week.
“Our boys have definitely shown that they belong among the best of the best here in southern Alberta, and going forward, we’re really going to see what they’re made of. This is one of the more grueling football experiences that these players will ever face, with the intense practice schedule, followed by three games in three days. With only 35 players, everyone is going to be leaned on quite heavily,” said Jensen. “I also think this is going to be pretty advantageous for these guys in terms of preparing them for the fall, with Mouland and Klassen going into their first year of high school football, and O’Connor going into his senior year of bantam. These guys should be able to hit the ground running, and really contribute to their teams right off the hop.”
The Alberta Summer Games run July 19-22 in Grande Prairie. There are eight teams involved in the football bracket and the Knights will play a round-robin tournament, comprised of three games in three days.
“To top it off, we had several other Taber players that narrowly missed the cut, and have been told to be ready, as they may be added to the team as injury replacements,” said Jensen. “All in all, it’s nice to see Taber Football represented by multiple players in events like this. It proves what kind of talent we’re developing here, and lets me know that we’re headed in the right direction.”