If trophies were awarded for patience, the Ardrossan Bisons would already be champions.
Nearly a month has passed since the Bisons last played a high school football game, but finally their long wait will be over when they take on the St. Paul Lions in the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) Tier IV North Championship game, noon Saturday (Nov. 19) at Emerald Hills Stadium in Sherwood Park.
The winner moves on to the Alberta Bowl at Shouldice Park in Calgary to face the Drumheller Titans or W.R. Myers Rebels in the Tier IV championship on Nov. 25.
“As soon as we figured out who we were playing I got a bunch of texts from the boys,” says head coach Mackenzie Enger, “They’re chomping at the bit.”
In the North semi-finals last Saturday (Nov. 12), St. Paul defeated the Sexsmith Sabres 16-13. Ardrossan, meanwhile, was originally slated to meet the Valleyview Cougars at Emerald Hills Stadium, but because of injuries and illness to many of their players, Valleyview was forced to forfeit and the Bisons were awarded a 7-0 win.
“We didn’t know they weren’t going to play our pre-game practice Thursday, so when we came out, we said, ‘hey let’s do an inter-squad scrimmage’,” Enger says. “So just keeping the practices moving and being able to have game moments was huge for us.”
The Bisons’ last official contest was on Oct. 20, at Tauras Field where they defeated the host Fort Saskatchewan Sting 40-0 in the final game of the Metro Edmonton High School Gilfillan Division regular season schedule.
Ardrossan just missed advancing to the Metro Edmonton playoffs, finishing fifth in the eight-team Gilfillan Division with a 3-4 record. However, the Bisons went 3-1 to finish the season and outscored the opposition 73-0 over the last eight quarters of football they were on the field for.
“We had a lot of new guys and we knew it was going to take some time, but they started to step up and in the second half of the season we had some good games and some good competition that we knew we could put some points up and do some real damage,” says Enger.
ASAA TIER IV Division scores are here, with #4 St. Paul Lions beating #3 Sexsmith Sabres to get in the last four. Good luck to all teams moving forward!
🏈🏈#football #footballalberta #asaa #tier4 #highschoolfootball #provincials2022 #albertabowl2022 pic.twitter.com/FatlUP6wc3
— Football Alberta (@FootballAlberta) November 13, 2022
This is Ardrossan’s third straight ASAA North Championship game appearance. Last postseason Sexsmith beat the Bisons 39-0, denying them their first trip to the Alberta Bowl since 2015.
“Compared to last year. I think the whole thing comes down to organization and helping these kids become students of the game and not just players, and that’s big for us,” says Enger, who has 15 returnees from 2021 on his roster.
“They know what it’s going to take. They don’t want a repeat of last year because last year wasn’t very pretty for us, so they know what it takes now, and they’re excited to work for it.”