Northern Raiders shut out in season opener
The Northern Raiders Midget football club got off to a rough start in the Calgary and Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA), dropping its opening game of the regular season to the Calgary Cowboys 22-0, April 4 at Shouldice Park.
Weather played a big role in the loss to the Cowboys, as the teams started the game in inclement conditions with 10 cm of snow on the ground.
“I think our defence played really well,” said head coach Steve Kemp. “In the snow, it was hard for our offence to get going. There was 10 cm on the field. It was coming down hard, it was windy and wet.”
Despite being shut out, Kemp said it was just a few bad breaks on defence that gave up the points, with both teams struggling to run the ball and connect passes in the conditions.
A week earlier, the team played three games in one evening during the annual Calgary Midget Football Association jamboree, a preseason test for the clubs competing this year.
The Raiders was able to secure a pair of wins after dropping its first game to the Calgary Prairie Fire 14-7. The team went on to beat the Calgary Broncos 21-0 and the Calgary Wildcats 28-21.
Kemp said the jamboree is important because it gives players a full-speed test before the games start to count.
“You get tired of beating up on each other in practice, and it’s hard to get a real good look when you are not going full speed,” said Kemp. “You get to see what’s working and what’s not. The new guys get to warm up to the league before it’s for real.”
Another challenge that every team faces in the CAMFA is a very short season, which will see a total of six games before playoffs begin in mid-May.
“We don’t have a lot of time to develop, we have to be ready to go,” Kemp said. “That’s why we start early. We will get better every week, that is our goal.”
The next matchup for the Raiders is on April 13 against the Calgary Hilltoppers, a traditional powerhouse in the league.
“We are going to go out and be aggressive. Their team is very well coached, they are not real big, but they are fast,” said Kemp. “We will be alright if we play physical and play with an edge.”