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After nearly two weeks of waiting, the Millwoods Christian Royals will be just two halves away from capturing a championship two years in the making.
Millwoods Christian can become back-to-back provincial six-a-side Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) champions when they take on the J.C. Charyk (Hanna) Hawks at the 2022 Alberta Bowl in Calgary’s Shouldice Park, Friday at 1 p.m.
The Royals have been eagerly awaiting this rematch of the 2021 provincial championship game since clinching their second straight trip to the Alberta Bowl with a 48-14 victory over the Holy Redeemer Rebels in the ASAA East Final at Emerald Hills in Sherwood Park on Nov. 12.
“Anticipation has been mounting,” says Royals coach Rob Harrod, an EE alumnus who played receiver for the Green and Gold in 2000 and 2001. “Over the weekend was probably the hardest time for everybody because we’re chomping at the bit to go, but I think the bye week worked really well.”
The Royals didn’t have a weekend off prior to the Alberta Bowl last year, when they defeated the Hawks 60-48 at Commonwealth Stadium to win the school’s second provincial six-a-side title and first since 2012.
“I actually like the bye week before the championship because you can just dial in,” Harrod continues. “You know who you’re playing, where you’re playing, and you can focus in on that, so I think that’s been an advantage and I enjoyed it this year.”
This is the second time in a month that Millwoods Christian and J.C. Charyk are meeting on the gridiron. The Royals concluded their regular season schedule with a 52-38 defeat of the Hawks, Oct. 28 in Hanna.
“They’re going to make adjustments based on what happened in the last game, so we’ve got to be ahead of the curve … we need to forget about the results of the last game because it doesn’t mean anything if we can’t get it done this weekend,” Harrod says.
Since six-a-side football was first contested as an ASAA championship sport in 2011, three teams have won the provincial title in consecutive years. Millwoods Christian has a chance to join that exclusive club that currently comprises J.C. Charyk, Rimbey, and St. Joseph’s (Brooks).
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“It’s special for a kid to win a provincial championship in any sport at any level; To go back-to-back is harder because everybody’s always going to bring their best when you’re the No. 1 team,” says Harrod.
“Last year I wouldn’t say we were necessarily the favourites, but this year we’re the favourites in the sense that we just beat them once in the regular season. They’re a well-coached team, a great group of players and good athletes, and it’s going to come down to who can execute best on Friday.”