Can the Warriors contend with a powerhouse Pride team?

The high school senior boys Div. 1 football city finals are set after a dominant Notre Dame Pride team had no problems with Bishop O’Byrne during their 59-0 semi-final victory on Nov. 6.

Meanwhile, the Henry Wise Wood Warriors won a hard-fought, physical battle with long-time rival the St. Francis Browns 21-13. The two teams will now play in the city’s final on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. on Hellard field at Shouldice park.

Notre Dame has posted a perfect 8-0 record this season, including the Nov. 6 semi-final, but despite their dominance thus far, the Warriors players and coaching staff are confident that they could provide a big challenge for the Notre Dame team that compiled 279 points for, while only giving up nine throughout the year.

Notre Dame quarterback Brett Hunchak follows through after a pass during the semi-final game between Notre Dame and Bishop O’Byrne.

Photo by Lucas Silva

Adam Zajdel, one of Wise Wood’s big leaders, and a major offensive
contributor, said he believes that his team can compete with Notre Dame.

“Throughout the season our players have kind of realized that we can outplay any team if we just come together;” said Zajdel, “If we work, and execute our plays we can do it. There were some times where there were lapses here and there but at times we’ve proved that when we’re on, the only team that stops us is ourselves.”

Wise Wood head coach Cody Ehrmann supported Zajdel’s comments by saying, “Athletically, we don’t think there’s a team in the city that’s as athletic as us.”

Although coach Ehrmann has said his team can compete on a talent and athletic level with Notre Dame, he admitted that team discipline needs to be better than what it was Tuesday night.

“We probably had 115 to 125 yards in penalties,” he said. “You can not play like that against Notre Dame, they are a very disciplined and well-coached team, and if you give them those opportunities don’t expect to win.”

Notre Dame’s game plan

Dave Diluzio — head coach of the Notre Dame Pride, who sit in top spot in the city’s rankings and are ranked No. 2 in the province — said that containing Wise Wood’s big threats will be a big key for his team.

Henry Wise Wood running back/wide-out Landon Roett races away from defenders on his way to his first touchdown of the semi-final game against St. Francis.

Photo by Lucas Silva“You’ve got to try to contain them,” said Diluzio. “We’re definitely going to have our hands full, and are going to have to key in on those guys. But in saying that, they have some other weapons on offense too; they definitely present a lot of problems defensively.”

Diluzio also suggested that Wise Wood’s defensive line has been dominant as of late, and so in order for success he needs his offensive line to come up big on Saturday.

“Our line play is going to have to be very good. A big thing were all about is to try and run the ball so our big guys up front are going to have to try to play well to contain their big guys up front, so its definitely going to be a battle.” said Diluzio.

With both teams confident after semi-final victories, and tirelessly preparing for Saturday’s final, it looks as though fans will see a hard-fought, physical, and entertaining football game.

Players to watch out for

While the Wise Wood team has a number of offensive weapons, the most dangerous and electrifying players they have are No. 1 Zajdel and No. 5 Landon Roett. They combined for all three touchdowns in their 21-13 win over St. Francis on Nov. 6, and provide the Warriors with two versatile play-making threats.

Zajdel has played for Team Alberta at the Football Canada Cup the past two years and was named team captain for this year’s tournament in London, Ontario. He can play quarterback, wide receiver and running back. He has excellent speed, and play making abilities from all three positions.

Quarterback Dante Djan (No. 2) of the Wise Wood Warriors follows through on a pass downfield Tuesday night.

Photo by Lucas Silva

Landon Roett is also a versatile player and is a threat to score from both the wide receiver and running back positions.

Both Diluzio and Ehrmann have mentioned that he is the fastest kid in Alberta. He won last year’s provincial track and field championship 100 metre dash with a time of 10.8 seconds. He showed that speed in the Nov. 6 semi-final victory with both a running and receiving touchdown.

Quarterback, No. 2 Dante Djan has done an excellent job all season long getting the ball to the weapons that the Warriors possess. In week 6 of the season Djan threw for six touchdown passes, and in Wise Wood’s semi-final game against St. Francis he aired it out for a long touchdown pass that ended up as the winning touchdown.

Notre Dame also has their fair share of offensive weapons starting with quarterback No. 12 Brett Hunchak. He’s passed the ball efficiently all year long, and has led Notre Dame to 279 points, which ranks first in the league. He has an accurate and strong arm and possesses the ability to scramble out of the pocket.

No. 1 Brandon Blondeau and No. 7 Tyler Chow are two running backs to watch out for. They have been running the ball with excellent success all year long and have each racked up touchdowns throughout the season.

In week 6 during the season against St. Francis, Blondeau rushed for four touchdowns while Chow ran for two. In Notre Dame’s last game against Wise Wood during the season, they each ran for a touchdown, including Blondeau’s 60-yard touchdown run.

lsilva@cjournal.ca