The Spirits are moving onto the North Finals.
Sturgeon Composite bounced back after their city finals loss in early November and defeated the Peace River Pioneers 36-0 in the provincial quarterfinals last Saturday (Nov.13) in St. Albert.
The Spirits hit the ground running, with a score of 8-0 in the first quarter and 14-0 at halftime. In the second half, the Spirits defence wore down the Pioneers.
"Peace River has an all-star running back that we really limited. We forced several turnovers, in fact, six total turnovers on the day," Spirits head coach Chad Hill described.
"We wanted to take away what Peace River does best, and what they do best is getting the ball to their running back."
He credits the defence for doing a great job executing their game plan and named several players for their performance, including quarterback Chris Ioanidis, who called his own number on an 11-yard touchdown run, which was set up by a 58-yard scamper by linebacker/running back, Jacob Oliphant.
Oliphant also had two sacks and a fumble recovery on defence. Stefan Vissher made huge plays with a 10-yard touchdown run, a two-yard touchdown reception caught deep in the endzone, and a noteable "highlight reel catch" on a two-point conversion.
Other notable players were rookie defensive lineman Ethan Hempstock, who had several tackles in the backfield, two fumble recoveries, and senior safety Van-Ryan Zech, who led the team with 10 total tackles.
The Spirits are now heading into the North Final/Provincial Semi-final on Saturday (Nov. 20) against the Holy Rosary Raiders out of Lloydminster. The latter has won the last six provincial championships in Tier 3. The last time the two teams faced off was in the 2019 North Finals, which didn't go well for the Spirits.
"They run a really great program there, and we took it on the chin in 2019. So, we are looking to have a much better performance in 2021."
Several players on the Spirits were in Grade 10 when they suffered the loss and remember the outcome "very well," according to Hill. Going into Saturday's game, they'll be looking to capitalize on what Holy Rosary does best.
"They move incredibly well; they have a few really talented receivers and an outstanding running back. On defence, they just swarm to the ball," he explained. "What we're hoping to do is to take advantage of their speed and aggression on defence, and we're going to try to use that against them."
The game kicks off at 2:30 p.m. at Olexiuk Field in St.Albert.