That was the first year of Eastman Raiders football.
The Raiders 27th season wrapped up last month.
"It was a great season," said club president Sean Walsh. "We were happy to field a bantam team. Our atom team went into the semifinals and came up short of going to the Championship Weekend. It was a very successful season."
When the Steinbach Regional Secondary School formed a junior varsity football team this year, Walsh and the Raiders board were concerned that their bantam program might suffer the same fate as the midget program a few years back, so they worked extremely hard to make sure bantam football would survive in 2017.
When it was all said and done - close to 100 players registered for Raiders football this year which meant there was one team in each of the crunchers, atom, pee wee and bantam divisions.
Walsh feels those numbers can be reached again next season and the foreseeable future.
"It’s definitely sustainable. We’re doing very well as a club and things may change with Manitoba Minor Football and Football Canada in the near future - whether it be next year or the year after. They may start changing a few things when it comes to age levels. They might change the cruncher level to flag possibly and changing the bantam as well."
Jayden Vogt, Joshua Ortynski, Jayden Catellier, Aiden Brindle, Evan Foulliard and Koda Cook from the bantam Raiders and Noah Godlewski, Austin Neufeld, Jerome Foulliard and Gavin Neufeld of the pee wee Raiders attended a two-day evaluation camp put on by Finish First Football.
Two teams, U13 & U15, were selected from the tryouts.
Those 10 Raiders will now practice until early January when they will head off to Saskatchewan to face off against the South Saskatchewan Selects. After that there will be additional cuts to finalize the team that will head to Texas.
The Raiders season ending Banquet will take place Monday at the Friedensfeld Hall with former Winnipeg Blue Bombers defensive back Rod Hill as the quest speaker.
The final board meeting is Thursday when Charli Champagne will take over as president of the Eastman Raiders football club.
"I’m going to miss it," said Walsh who is stepping down after eight years on the board including four years as club president. "I know my wife probably won't say the same thing. My Saturday mornings will be free again but getting up and watching the kids play and especially when I was coaching too along that period of time - growing along with them and seeing how far they've come – it’s a great honour to have been able to coach them and represent the club."
Registration for the 28th season of Eastman Raiders football will take place in early May of 2018.
And the football cycle continues.
"It all comes down to the people, the volunteers, the board members, the parents that make it work," Walsh said. "Without those people you wouldn't have a football club. You can have players that want to sign up and register but if you don't have the volunteers and board members to help with that - that's what makes longevity happen. It's the dedication."
- Category: Local Sports
- Written by Clayton Dreger