It was a night to say thank-you as a jam-packed gymnasium filled with players, coaches, parents and supporters took in the Steinbach Regional football program's 11th Banquet this past Thursday at the SRSS.
"It's just a good evening to bring an end to our season," noted SRSS football convenor Jamie Peters. "It's another really good opportunity to talk about our program philosophy, what we believe in, who we are and what we're all about. Celebrate some individual success as well as a lot of team's success. Try and inspire some players to train and workout in the off-season. Just re-emphasize the point that we're not just a team that ends, we're a program that goes on forever. One of my highlights is bringing the Hall of Fame players back and our alumni. Highlighting them and helping everybody understand that you're not forgotten and there's always a place for you here and continue to build on that."
The Sabres were highly competitive in season 14.
The SRSS had an impressive 5-2 record in the South East Division of the Winnipeg High School Football League's AAAA Conference and lost to the eventual champion Dakota Lancers in the opening round of the playoffs.
Zane Friesen, Ryan Deschauer, Jackson Gamaldo, Mason Funk and Bradey Dornez were named WHSFL All-Stars.
"It was a different type of year," commented Peters. "We were unable to play a real JV season. We tried going from JV 12 to JV 9 and then we still didn't have enough players that we felt we could pull off JV 9 so we ended up going with one team but then we were able to get some JV 9 games. It was a bit of a moving target, but it was necessary to re-establish our culture, commitment and dedication coming out of COVID. That was something a lot of programs were dealing with and we're just excited to try and build on that and it was a great year for that. Having the grade 9's & 10's they're hungry, wanting to learn and pushing our older players and allowing to run competitive practices, it was great to see."
"I was just very happy that our JV 9's were able to get three games at their level," added Peters. "There are some disadvantages to being one bigger team and that means that some of the 9's are just not at the level needed to play at varsity so it was a tough pill for them to swallow. I'm hopeful that they're going to understand that it's going to payoff down the road. It was a very successful year. We're very happy but again, like our motto, we always want more. We want to continue to improve. We want two JV 12 teams and we've got to find ways to get better as a program."
SRSS 2023 Award Winners
Top Offensive Player - Zane Friesen
Top Defensive Player - Jackson Gamaldo
Top Special Teams Player - Bradey Dornez
Top Lineman - Ryan Deschauer/Kean Thorvaldson
MVP - Mason Funk
Leadership - Jack Leppelmann
Most Improved Player - DJ Houle
Legacy Award - Gavin Neufeld
Koby Memorial Award - Marcus Johnson
Junior Varsity Team
Top Offensive Player - Eric Barnard
Top Defensive Player - Carter Doerksen
Top Special Teams Player - Ryan Martin
Top Lineman - Graham Hunter
MVP - Braeden Sinclair
Most Improved Player - Angelo Stoyanov
2023 Graduating Players
Isaac Blackburn, Zane Friesen, Mason Funk, Skylar Cudeny, Bradey Dornez, Dylan Suttorp, Sean Slusher, Kai Lavoie, Gavin Neufeld, Jackson Gamaldo, Mack Wiebe, Kean Thorvaldson & Ryan Deschauer
Workout Warriors - Exemplary work in offseason strength and conditioning
Keadys Avery, Eric Barnard, Issac Blackburn, Seth Friesen, Josiah Grenier, DJ Houle, Marcus Johnson, Reece Kehler, Jack Leppelmann, Koren Letkeman, Gavin Neufeld, Toby Plett, Nigel Reader, Callum Tinman, Mack Wiebe, Aieden Wollmann & Keiran Robertshaw
2022 Honour Role Players
JV Team: Wade Anderson, Eric Barnard, Oliver Dueck, Seth Friesen, Caleb Giesbrecht, Dylan Godlewski, Jack Appelmann, Koren Letkeman, Matt Reeves, Hayden Sawatzky & Ryder Wallace
Varsity Team: Skylar Cudney, Zane Friesen, Josiah Grenier, Kai Lavoie, Gavin Neufeld, Jackson Penner, Nigel Reader & Mackinley Wiebe
2023 Hall of Fame
Eric Adams & Tyler Bueckert