Cloutier wins U16 Western Challenge
Swift Current’s Zach Cloutier and Team Saskatchewan won the 2019 U16 Western Challenge in Kamloops, BC when they defeated British Columbia 21-7 in the championship game on Thursday.
“I was super excited, just coming all the way from Saskatchewan to win a gold and all the tryouts and everything,” said Cloutier.
The 5’9’’, 185-pound Cloutier played middle linebacker and was a team captain with Saskatchewan. He began the tryout process in Regina back in April and first made Team South. Team South and Team North played twice and then the 50 top players were selected, from which 40 players were eventually picked from another tryout.
“We wanted to just represent Saskatchewan and bring back the gold medal and the trophy,” said Cloutier of the team’s goals heading in.
“I just made sure I was prepared, made sure I knew what to do. I made sure I went through all my mental and physical things in my head to make sure I was ready and prepared,” he added.
Saskatchewan had defeated Manitoba 38-2 on Monday to open the four-team event.
“I felt really good. It was tough, there was some good teams, some good players out there, but you just had to battle through and we ended up winning in the end.”
The only negative for Cloutier came when he injured his shoulder during the championship game. He left the game briefly but returned to help Saskatchewan close out the win, worsening the injury further, which he said was worth it to get the win.
Cloutier helped lead a defensive unit that allowed only nine points over two games.
“We made sure we knew what we were doing and made sure we always worked together. We practiced what we needed to improve on and just got better going into the tournament by watching film. We just made sure we knew what to do and changed anything we needed to prepare for the next team.”
“You got the play from the sideline and had to echo it out to the other players and made sure the other players knew what they were doing. If they needed help, just help out or do as much as I can to help for the team,” explained Cloutier of his role on defense.
The grade 10 student will look to make an impactful debut for the Swift Current Comp. Colts in September.
“I want to make sure to bring some of the skill that I’ve learned from the team and just help others from high school. I hope to be able to win a trophy in high school too.”
Zach Cloutier helped Saskatchewan win the U16 Western Challenge in Kamloops, BC.