When the bell rings next week students will rush back into the halls of William E. Hay Composite High School, but after class some students will be rushing yards on the field in the back – high school football is back.
Principal and coach Norbert Baharally said he’s excited to see this year’s team and how far they’ll go, since it has a strong core of returning players and some skilled rookies coming up into Grade 10.
Some of the rookies went to the Ontario Summer Games this summer, he said, gaining additional experience, while others played spring ball in the Edmonton league for the Camrose Shock.
“It’s like an extra season,” he said.
In addition to high school football, Peewee and Bantam football is ready to start, with practices being held on the Stettler football field during the weekdays.
“We’ve got lots of skilled position players,” Baharally noted of the high school team. “In regards to our offensive and defensive lines, though, we’re a bit shallow. We could use some bigger guys.”
One of the factors Baharally said appeals to him about football is that it is a sport for all body shapes and sizes.
The high school held its spring camp, and unlike some schools, William E. Hay doesn’t hold tryouts.
“As long as people show up and commit, we’ll find a place for them on the team and teach them,” Baharally noted.
On Sept. 5, the high school team will travel to Lloydminster for an exhibition match, with the regular season starting the following week. With an addition of another team, the league has been split into two conferences as it had simply become too big.
“There was no way to play all the teams at least once unless you played a lot,” Baharally said of the league, which now numbers 10 schools.
The conferences are split based on the school size, with Tier I and II schools making up the first conference, and Tier III and IV making the second. Stettler is part of the second conference, and will compete against Camrose, Ponoka, Wetaskiwin and Sylvan Lake, Baharally said. The other conference is made of Red Deer schools Lindsay Thurber, Notre Dame and Hunting Hills, Lacombe Composite School and Rocky Mountain House.