Raiders down Cen­tral to claim sec­ond-straight ti­tle

Moose Jaw Express.com - - Front Page - Randy Palmer- Moose Jaw Ex­press

As the Moose Jaw High School Foot­ball League season pro­gressed, there was a sense of in­evitabil­ity that the York­ton Raiders might have a re­peat as to be­ing league cham­pion.

Their buz­z­saw of­fence, led by stand­out quar­ter­back Jor­dan Rus­nak, racked up point to­tals un­heard of in pre­vi­ous sea­sons and did so with the kind of of­fen­sive bal­ance that made them es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult to de­fend.

When it came to the league cham­pi­onship fi­nal on Satur­day at Gutheridge Field, there was a sense of a coro­na­tion more than a com­pe­ti­tion.

Make no mis­take, the Cen­tral Cy­clones came to play, and at half­time had things look­ing like they might be in­ter­est­ing. But two quick-strike touch­downs in the third quar­ter put the writ­ing on the wall and in then end, York­ton came away with the 46-17 win and their sec­ond-straight MJHSFL cham­pi­onship.

“It feels un­real, even bet­ter than last year, be­cause we’ve been ri­vals all year and then we come into their home­town and get a pretty de­ci­sive win, es­pe­cially in the sec­ond half,” Rus­nak said. “It feels pretty good.” Rus­nak fin­ished the game with touch­down runs of 22 yards, 30 yards and 10 yards as part of his 24 car­ries for 100 yards to­tal. He was also 7-for-10 pass­ing for 157 yards, in­clud­ing a 57-yard TD pass to Car­son Svein­bjorn­son only 38 sec­onds into the third quar­ter and a seven-yard ma­jor to Tyler Harasy­muk two min­utes later. Harasy­muk also had York­ton’s mo­men­tum-build­ing 15-yard touch­down run with 1:22 left be­fore half. For Rus­nak, it was as im­pres­sive per­for­mance.

“It was nice to have a game like that, but I have to give credit to my team­mates, too, the o-line gave me holes to run through or time to get passes off to my team­mates and that’s al­ways huge,” he said.

On the other side of the field, Cy­clones quar­ter­back Ethan John­son did ev­ery­thing he could to fight through the windy con­di­tions and keep his team in the game. He ended up 26-for-39 pass­ing for 248 yards, in­clud­ing a 28yard pass to Ri­ley Se­aborn with 7:21 re­main­ing in the third quar­ter that saw Cen­tral close the score to 11-8 at that point in the game.

“I’m re­ally proud of all my team­mates, I thought we played like cham­pi­ons all game,” John­son said. “We were (right in it) at half­time and th­ese guys haven’t had a close game all year, so I was re­ally proud of what we did to­day. “This is the best team I’ve ever played with by far; it’s the most fun I’ve had play­ing this sport in my en­tire life and I’m go­ing to miss it so much.”

Cen­tral coach Colin Belsher echoed the pride in his play­ers for keep­ing things close in the early go­ing.

“It was like the first cou­ple rounds of a box­ing match, it was go­ing both ways and we were there.,” he said. “I don’t know if we ran out gas, but York­ton started mak­ing the plays and we weren’t mak­ing the plays... I asked them to leave it all on the line and they did that and we just fell short on the score­board.”

The Raiders will now face Saska­toon city cham­pion Bishop Ma­honey in the pro­vin­cial 3A semi-fi­nal Nov. 3 in York­ton.

The York­ton Raiders cel­e­brate with the Moose Jaw High School Foot­ball League cham­pi­onship tro­phy.

York­ton and Cen­tral play­ers scram­ble for the ball after a sec­ond-quar­ter fum­ble.

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