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Bantam Raiders football team ready for new season

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Aug 21, 2014 12:38 pm

Maxime Longchamps prepared to throw the ball during an Airdrie Bantam Raiders football practice at St. Martin Des Porres school on August 15.
Maxime Longchamps prepared to throw the ball during an Airdrie Bantam Raiders football practice at St. Martin Des Porres school on August 15.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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Following a tough season in 2013, the Airdrie Bantam Raiders football program appears to be on an upswing heading into the 2014 Calgary Bantam Football Association (CBFA) campaign, according to the team’s head coach.

After a low turnout for players last year and a winless season where they failed to score a touchdown, the Bantam Raiders have doubled the amount of 13 and 14 year old players to 30 team members, who will be suiting up ahead of its opening game at Shouldice Park on Aug. 27 against the Calgary Hilltoppers at 6:30 p.m.

“We had 11 players at this time last year and we are at 30 players right now, so things are looking good for us,” Bantam Raiders Head Coach Steve Kemp said. “About two-thirds of our players are brand new to football, so there is going to be a lot of learning on the fly.”

“What’s great about having more players this year is that we will actually be able to sub players out and make sure they get the instruction that they need,” he added. “That was a problem last year when they had to play multiple positions, but now we can pull them off to the side, get their mistakes corrected, and get them back out there.”

One of the few returning players from last year’s Bantam Raiders team is 13 year old quarterback Maxime Longchamps, who is very excited about the fact that the team will have a lot more members this season.

“It was tough at times last year because you were pretty much out on the field all of the time as we didn’t have a lot of players,” Longchamps said. “Also, for the guys coming straight up from the PeeWee Raiders team, it was really hard playing against those big guys when you are much smaller in size.”

“We have some new guys on our team this year who are pretty big and will be able to play on the offensive line, and that’s something that will be a big help for us,” he added.

“Plus, we will able to switch guys out so they can get a lot of playing time, and I think that will help everyone become a better player.”

The Bantam Raiders had their first taste of in-game action on Aug.16 at Shouldice Park in Calgary, as the team took part in the annual pre-season jamboree event.

“The offence and the defence each got 30 plays in the three mini-games they had, where they played the Calgary Hilltoppers, the Leduc Tiger-Cats and the Grand Prairie Raiders,” Kemp said.

“The boys played really well in the scrimmages, and I saw a lot of great things that we can build on,” he added.

“The players got a good idea of what things are like at game speed now, and we will be working on some things before our season opener.”

The CBFA regular season will go until Oct. 11, with the playoffs starting up on Oct.18 and concluding with the championship contest on Nov. 1.


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