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Airdrie Raiders to play for championship

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:28 pm

Airdrie Raiders wide receiver Brayden Wardell (left) used his speed to run past Calgary Falcons defensive back Nick Anderson during the Raiders’ 36-23 win at Shouldice Park in Calgary on May 23.
Airdrie Raiders wide receiver Brayden Wardell (left) used his speed to run past Calgary Falcons defensive back Nick Anderson during the Raiders’ 36-23 win at Shouldice Park in Calgary on May 23.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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The Airdrie Raiders football team is one win away from laying claim to being the best squad in the Calgary and Area Midget Football League.

Following a 36-23 win over the Calgary Falcons on May 23 at Shouldice Park in Calgary, the Raiders has qualified for the CAMFA Division 1 championship contest, which will take place at Shouldice Park on May 30 in a 7 p.m. game against the Calgary Mavericks.

“I have to give the credit to the kids, as they have all that desire to get better every time they are on the field,” Raiders Head Coach Steve Kemp said.

“It’s been a five-year process just to get to this point, and our players and coaches have been working hard to achieve this opportunity.”

“We were able to win the Division 2 title a year ago, and that was a great feeling, but it wasn’t the Division 1 championship,” Defensive Back Wes White added.

“It’s been a goal of ours since the start of the season to make it there, and we are pretty excited about it.”

The Raiders pounced on the Falcons right from the start in the semi-final, as the team jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to the play of quarterback Duncan Little, who threw three of his four touchdown passes in the game’s first 12 minutes.

“Everyone wanted to win, and we were all just clicking right from the start of the game,” Little said.

“We came out firing early on offence, and we all just clicked with one another.”

“Like everyone on our team, Duncan is someone that steps up in big games,” Kemp added. “It’s not surprising to me that he was able to have one of his best games of the season in the semi-finals, and I hope he has yet another strong game in the finals.”

The Raiders nearly allowed a 24-0 lead to disappear in the last stages of the first half, as they led the Falcons by a scant 24-17 margin at the start of the second half.

However, the Raiders’ defence stood tall when it the mattered the most, as it held the Falcons to just six points over the final two quarters.

“After the Falcons had chipped away at our lead, I talked with our guys and told them that we needed to just settle down, relax, and just play our games,” Kemp said.

“Defensively, we had taken some bad penalties that allowed the Falcons to score points,” White added. “We didn’t want that to continue, so we just put our heads down and stayed focused, which paid off in the end for us.”

The Raiders will be facing a familiar foe in the CAMFA Division 1 championship contest, as it went up against the Mavericks in the opening game of the season on April 3.

Although the Mavericks won that game by a score of 38-21, Coach Kemp expects the title game to be a much different affair.

“Everyone has gotten better since the season started on both sides, and now the two best teams in the entire league are going to be facing off with one another,” Kemp said.

“It’s going to be an exciting, hard-nosed football game, and I encourage everyone to come and check it out,” he added.

The Mavericks is heading into the title game after winning one of the wildest contests in recent CAMFA memory, as the team prevailed in a 71-51 shootout over the Calgary Colts on May 23.

“If we have to score that many points to try and beat them, we will do it,” Little said. “You can take a little bit from that first game we had against them, but with everyone clicking on both teams, it should be a totally different contest.”


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