SCCHS Colts football open new door only to have SHSAA slam another

Steven Mah
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The Swift Current Comprehensive High School Colts football team has found a new home in the Rangeland Football Conference in Medicine Hat but the move has come at a cost after the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association ruled on Tuesday that the Colts will not be allowed to participate in 3A provincials this year.

SCCHS Principal Bryan Braun went before the SHSAA on Monday to permit the Colts to battle for the 3A football championship next season, but was told verbally Tuesday that the Colts would not be allowed to do that next season. The Moose Jaw High School Football League playoffs are also used as the qualification route to 3A provincials, therefore leaving the Colts in the cold next season.

The Swift Current Comprehensive High School Colts football team has found a new home in the Rangeland Football Conference in Medicine Hat but the move has come at a cost after the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association ruled on Tuesday that the Colts will not be allowed to participate in 3A provincials this year.

SCCHS Principal Bryan Braun went before the SHSAA on Monday to permit the Colts to battle for the 3A football championship next season, but was told verbally Tuesday that the Colts would not be allowed to do that next season. The Moose Jaw High School Football League playoffs are also used as the qualification route to 3A provincials, therefore leaving the Colts in the cold next season.

Braun explained the decision to leave after 11 years in the Moose Jaw High School Football League and make the move back to the Rangeland Football Conference in which the Colts played from the mid 1980s to 1995.

"It started last year when we finished fourth in the league and we had to go to Moose Jaw to host a playoff game. That was the first time in four years where we were in the position where we were the higher seed going in and I think we certainly felt that was a problem and we didn't want to have that happen again. What we decided to do was to let it be known to the Commissioner at that time that we were unhappy. We felt that with the League really going down to five teams after losing one team that this was the opportunity to maybe build on our partnership because we weren't a partner at the time. In January we made a formal request that we be allowed to host playoff games if we earned them obviously. Again we cited soccer as another frustrating example. It really is about two teams but we had an option because Rangeland was wanting us to join their league again. We asked them to get back to us by February. We had some discussions with them and they asked for an extension and we granted that until the middle of March. They came back to us and said this was more than football and was going to affect soccer and other sports besides Swift Current with their non-members as they refer to them as. So they said no their playoff format was going to remain the same so we decided we would go to Rangeland."

Braun explained that he does not agree with the SHSAA's decision.

"In my presentation to Saskatchewan Athletics I said this is one of your beliefs to promote sportsmanship and competition in an ethical framework. I said that what's happening here for us playing in this league is not good sportsmanship. It's not fair. It's not equitable. I said if you believe and abide by these beliefs you have to allow us to contest the 3A provincial championship."

The Colts football team is one of two SCCHS teams currently competing in the Moose Jaw League.

The Ardens soccer team is currently the two-time defending league champions after dominating the league for the past two years. Braun in also concerned with the Ardens soccer team because they also are not allowed to host playoff games despite finishing first in the league the last two years.

"Are players and parents upset that we can't host a playoff game? Definitely. Is it unjust? Definitely. I am advocating for Moose Jaw to change that but there is no will. They have made it very clear that is not going to happen. It is not a discrimination against Swift Current, even in their own school division, Assiniboia doesn't have that same right. I guess I am feeling like we are some victims of some bullying going on. It is you play here or you don't play and if you play here you are going to play by our rules. I don't think that is right."

Braun also hopes that the players' parents will stand up for the Colts football program.

"It's unfortunate and I certainly hope that when our parent community hears about this I hope that there is some serious letter writing going on to Saskatchewan Athletics."

Colts head coach Derek Murdoch further explained the move.

"We left Moose Jaw to go to Medicine Hat to have the opportunity to host playoff games if we earn them. We have already gotten more respect, flexibility, and a partnership feeling from Medicine Hat in two weeks of email back and forth then we ever had in Moose Jaw. They have bent over backwards to welcome us and look at our concerns with scheduling."

Regardless of the current and likely continuing political fiasco, the 2008 season will be a fresh start for the Colts.

"We are pretty excited, our players are very excited about the opportunity to go play some new teams on Friday night, under the lights," said Murdoch. "It is kind of a fresh start. We broke out last year and had a big year and our guys are really looking forward to a bit of a change."

The Colts will compete against five other teams in the Rangeland Conference this season including the Medicine Hat High Mohawks, McCoy Colts, Crescent Heights Vikings, Brooks Buffalos, and the Hanna Hawks.

smah@swbooster.com

Organizations: Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association, Moose Jaw High School Football League, Swift Current Comprehensive High School Colts Moose Jaw League

Geographic location: Medicine Hat, Moose Jaw, Swift Current

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