HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Raiders down Central to claim second-straight title
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.