The Battle River Shock are ready to rock.
The Camrose-based midget football team, including eight players from Stettler, defeated the host St. Albert Storm 22-16 to kick off the regular season Friday night.
“It went pretty good,” said Shock quarterback Stephen Zuk, otherwise a member of the Stettler Wildcats high school team.
“We started it off pretty well. It was a good game.”
As for the weather on yet another snowy weekend, “it was a little chilly,” he said. “It was pretty cold. A little windy, too. Not too great.”
Battle River warmed up for the regular season with a jamboree in Calgary a few weeks ago and the league jamboree in Spruce Grove a week ago.
“It’s starting to come together better,” said Zuk, 16. “We should have a pretty good team this year, I think.
“Tryouts started in January, but we’ve been practising outside for a month or so now. It’s starting to get better. It was a little cold for a while, but it’s starting to get nicer, so it’s good.”
Zuk, a Grade 11 student, is in his third and final year with the Shock. The midget division is made up of players in grades 9, 10 and 11.
The Stettler-and-area representation includes five of Zuk’s Wildcat teammates in Nicholas Baharally, Ryan Gerl, Thomas Cassidy, David McCann and Trent Sanders, along with Stettler Cougars bantam graduates Tim Gardner and Clayton Page, brother of Shock and Wildcat alumnus Ty Page.
Wildcats head coach Norbert Baharally, the principal at William E. Hay Composite High School, is back with the Shock staff as the running backs coach.
Zuk, the starting quarterback in Friday’s game, is the most experienced of the three Battle River QBs. He gained valuable experience last fall when he was pressed into front-line duty with the Wildcats.
“It definitely helped playing Wildcats, too,” said Zuk, who was an all-star in the Central Alberta High School Football League.
This winter, Zuk played high school basketball with the Wildcats, along with his Shock football tryouts and practices.
“A couple of nights a week, we’ve got football,” he said of Battle River workouts in Lacombe and Camrose.
Zuk is also a lifeguard at the Stettler Recreation Centre pool, and he’s a pitcher with the Lacombe Dodgers midget baseball team.
Despite the lingering snow on the ground, baseball is scheduled to begin within weeks.
“I think we’re going to have a couple of indoor practices here, coming up soon,” Zuk said.
“There’s a little bit (of a baseball-football overlap) at the start of the (baseball) season, but it’s not too much.”