Colts heading back to Moose Jaw

Steven Mah
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The Swift Current Comprehensive High School Colts football team is on the move once again. After only one season in the Rangeland Football Conference the Colts are packing their bags and heading back to the Moose Jaw High School Football League, a destination they hope will be more welcoming than their previous experience in Moose Jaw.

The Swift Current Comprehensive High School Colts football team is on the move once again. After only one season in the Rangeland Football Conference the Colts are packing their bags and heading back to the Moose Jaw High School Football League, a destination they hope will be more welcoming than their previous experience in Moose Jaw.

One year ago the Colts made the difficult decision to leave their home of 11 years to head for the RFC based out of Medicine Hat.

"There was one major thing and it was the inability to host a playoff game if we earned it. There didn't seem to be any willingness by the Moose Jaw Football League to change that," explained head coach Derek Murdoch of why the Colts left the MJHSFL.

"The big thing was that we always kind of felt like we were an outsider there and there was a bit of an attitude that we should just be happy that we have a place to play. There was a vibe for some people that we were just an outsider and not a real member of the league and that we weren't a partner."

While the Colts left the Moose Jaw league willingly last year, this year the Saskatchewan High School Athletics Association forced their hand.

"Basically they came to us with two choices," explained Murdoch. "The first was we could stay where we were in Medicine Hat, they weren't going to tell us we couldn't play there. If we stayed there the bottom line was we were going to be outside looking in on the provincial picture in Saskatchewan. It was made pretty clear that was an indefinite situation."

"The other option was to go back to Moose Jaw and basically they gave us the opportunity to host a playoff game in either a quarter-final or a semi-final and then the league final would still be played in Moose Jaw."

Essentially the Colts can now earn the opportunity to host a playoff game if they finish the regular season in first, second, or fourth-place in the five-team league.

"The other thing is that they are going to let us keep our 3A classification for football. Technically numbers-wise we are a 4A school but historically we don't compete really well in that 4A category yet," said Murdoch.

Last the Colts were ruled out of SHSAA provincial playoffs after they left the Moose Jaw league due to the fact that league play also served as the regional playoff system.

"We as a coaching staff went round and round and there were compelling arguments for both leagues and the guys in Medicine Hat were great to work with. With where we have come in the last three or four years we see ourselves as being able to compete provincially and to kind of eliminate ourselves from that situation was kind of a tough decision to make," explained Murdoch of the difficult decision to leave the RFC.

All in all the Colts learned a lot over the past season.

"Just that opportunity to play some games on Saturday night was an exciting experience. We played some good football against some good football teams. We learned some lessons and how to win a couple of playoff games at the end. The first one we won in the last minute and the third place game were we knocked off McCoy we hung on and blocked a game-tying convert with a minute and a half left so we learned how to win games which was big for our team."

This week the Colts are holding a spring camp in anticipation of their return to the Moose Jaw league.

"The message we want to promote is that we are going back and going back to some good football. We want to go back and show everybody that we are not the same team that played in Moose Jaw a couple of years ago. A big part of that this week is that we will have in about a dozen grade eights from the city schools and they are mostly bringing in guys that played in the minor system so we are going to get them a feel for what it is like to be a part of our football family and how we do things. Basically it is a chance to let the guys have some fun for a week and get thinking about what they are going to do over the summer to get better."

In the end Murdoch hopes that a return to Moose Jaw will be a win for all parties involved.

"I think that the guys in Moose Jaw didn't have a real great year with just the three Moose Jaw teams so I think that they are happy to see a little bit of life pumped back into their league going back from three to five (teams)."

At the end of the day the Colts did get the right to host playoff games should they earn it.

"I don't know if I would say it is a huge win but we did get some compromise. It would maybe be too much to expect to get everything that we asked for but I don't feel like we are walking back with our tails between our legs because we did get something," said Murdoch.

smah@swbooster.com

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

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Saskatchewan

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