As impressive as the Salisbury Sabres have been in their 5-0 start to the season, it still sort of seems like it has all been a dress rehearsal for what has been waiting in the wings this week.
The Sabres have looked very good to this point of the Metro Edmonton League’s Carr Conference Division 1 schedule, but still won’t know exactly where they stand until they face their demons and come up against the two-time defending champion Harry Ainlay Titans this Friday.
The Sabres kept their clean sheet intact last Thursday as they came away with a 49-15 victory over Bellerose at Emerald Hills Stadium in Sherwood Park, improving to 5-0 while outscoring opponents 284-28.
“I actually thought we came out pretty flat and that the score didn’t indicate how close the game was,” said Sabres head coach Cam Fraser. “They came out and really pressed us on some things. It was good in the fact that I think our kids had to overcome some adversity fir pretty much the first time this season. Anytime you get tested, especially with harder games coming up, that’s not a bad thing.
“Our running game was really good, again. I thought that we were able to take control, especially after the first couple of series. Our offensive line made holes and our running backs made plays. All three of our back found the end zone. I thought our defence, for the most part, played well. There was a couple of bad series where we took some undisciplined penalties that hurt us. Once we cleaned that up, we were fine. Our special teams were solid. All-in-all, it was a good game, it was just that we have to come out better every game and get focused a little bit better for what we are going to see later in the season. We have to get better every week.”
Cole Beaudin, Wes Gregersen and Bennett Sawchuk each staked the Sabres with a pair of touchdowns apiece in the latest victory, with Kolby Hurford providing the other major.
Now for the game that has been circled on the calendar ever since the schedule came out, as the Sabres face the Harry Ainlay Titans, who have also gone 5-0 whilst outscoring opponents 265-17.
“They have been the No. 1 team in the North of Alberta for the last couple of years at least,” Fraser said. “They are well-coached and have great athletes. They handled us last year quite convincingly in both games (including the Carr championship game). We have been looking forward to this game and seeing where we are at. It is kind of a litmus test to see where we are at as a program.”
The huge game takes place on Friday at 5 p.m. at Foote Field in Edmonton.
Meanwhile, also at the top Carr Conference level, the Bev Facey Falcons remained winless at 0-5 with a 38-7 loss to the Austin O’Brien Crusaders.
“It was a tough loss, we thought we had a good game plan going in, but just didn’t execute, we shot ourselves in the foot a few times and didn’t recover,” said Falcons head coach Tanner Stephens. “On the bright side we have a very hungry group heading into our senior night so we are looking forward to the week ahead.”
Bev Facey hosts Ross Sheppard on Friday at 5 p.m. at Emerald.
Both the Sabres and Falcons have junior teams this season — Bev Facey’s returning after a two-year absence with the arguably mistaken belief they no longer needed one.
The two-time defending champion Sabres junior team is also doing well this fall, getting off to a 2-0 start while outpointing opponents 12-16, thanks to a 48-16 victory over Bellerose on Tuesday.
“We have a one program, two teams mentality,” Fraser said. “All of the Grade 10s who came in this year with the exception of one are playing on the junior team, which shows that the program, in general, has gotten stringer and we don’t have to put kids in situations where they won’t be successful. The kids are getting better every week. We have been really excited with our juniors. They have done really well so far.”
The Facey Falcons are 1-1, their latest game a 35-15 defeat at the hands of the Jasper Place Rebels.
“Our junior team has started off strong for the first year of the program being back, as we beat Harry Ainlay in our first exhibition game and AOB in our first regular season game,” Stephens said. “Andrew Berriman and the rest of our coaching staff have done a phenomenal job with our athletes. It has been extremely positive and our athletes are loving the experience, which is what we wanted to accomplish this year. The injury bug has hit us, but it’s a great challenge for other players to step up. We are thrilled with how the junior team has come together and created such a positive addition to our football program.”
The junior Sabres next play Bev Facey this Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Emerald Hills.