The Steinbach Regional Secondary School will travel to Winnipeg Friday afternoon and face the Dakota Lancers in the Winnipeg High School Football League's ANAVET Bowl quarterfinals.
"We're excited to get back into the AAAA playoff bracket and have a chance to compete for that," said SRSS defensive coordinator Jamie Peters. "As always, we're looking to be better and compete at the highest level. We've done that for the last number of years and we're always proud to do that."
The Sabres defeated the Vincent Massey Trojans 16-6 last Friday and finished the regular season schedule in third place in the AAAA Conference's South East Division with a 5-2 record.
The Lancers and Grant Park Pirates were 6-1 and tied for top spot.
Dakota Collegiate had by far the best offence in the WHSFL this season.
The Lancers averaged 51 points per game.
Dakota quarterback Blake Penner completed 72 passes for 1,555 yards and 23 touchdowns.
"They got a lot of playmakers," noted coach Peters. "They probably have the best quarterback in the league. They like to throw the ball; they've got some guys that can run the ball and they've scored a lot of touchdowns on special teams as well. Our defense will have their hands full. What we're trying to focus on is control the edges, control the line of scrimmage and take away their run game. Then we got to force them to throw the ball multiple times all the way down the field."
"I was telling the guys Monday in practice; it's about making them earn it and making them work for it. If we are going to have to go down, we go down with a death of a thousand paper cuts and make them complete eight, nine, ten passes to get down the field to score a touchdown as opposed to give up one 60, 70 or 80-yard play. Looking at the film, they're a big play offense so we got to take the big play away. We got to step up and make a few big plays of our own."
Steinbach Regional is the seventh seed while Dakota is number two in the AAAA conference playoff bracket.
Weather could be an issue when the Sabres and Lancers take the field for the opening kickoff Friday at 5 p.m. but coach Peters says they'll be prepared for whatever they have to deal with.
"Bad weather is the ultimate equalizer for the defense. There's no question, if the track is a little bit slower that makes things a little bit more difficult for those skill players and it gets the game ugly and then it comes down to some grit, toughness, determination and heart and we can do that. At the end of the day, we're just out there playing. Both teams are going to be playing in whatever conditions there are and it's going to come down to who can step up and make some of those plays.
"One of the nice things about playing at Dakota at this time of the year is that we're playing on turf," added coach Peters. "We know the footing will be a lot better than playing of some wet, muddy grass that might have some snow on it. We can't control the weather, so we'll see what happens on Friday. We'll just go out there and play and put our best foot forward. We'll continue to strive to be better and compete and hopefully we have an opportunity to stun Dakota on the road."