Three years after losing the 2018 Division 1 final, the Airdrie Storm are once again preparing for the Calgary Peewee Football Association's (CPFA) top-two tilt on Nov. 6.
Airdrie’s peewee football team booked their place in the CPFA’s Division 1 championship game by winning their semi-final contest on Oct. 30. Playing at Shouldice Athletic Park in Calgary, the Storm overcame the Calgary Colts by a score of 30-14.
“We overcame some adversity and had to beat the team that beat us in the regular season, the Calgary Colts, so that was awesome,” said Storm head coach Tyrell Rohl, of the semi-final victory. “The boys were pumped up coming out of that game.”
According to Rohl, the team’s execution on both sides of the ball was what propelled the Storm to victory over the Colts.
“The defence, we were preaching to them for the last few weeks that we just needed to get tougher and start flying around at full speed,” he said. “Finishing tackles was one of the biggest problems. We were doing a lot of body-checking and not wrapping players, so they were getting out [of our tackles].
“Offensively, we’ve been pretty solid all year long. Finally getting guys back healthy was a big part of it on Saturday. When we played the Colts in the regular season, we were missing five starters, so getting those guys back, we were able to throw, run and do all the good things we wanted to do.”
The Storm have put forward a strong showing in 2021, ending the regular season with a 6-2 record. In those eight games, Airdrie outscored their opponents 287-94.
Rohl said one of the Storm’s most important players this season has been quarterback Ronin Thompson, who has thrown for more than 1,000 yards and contributed at least 15 touchdown passes.
“He lit it up in the Colts game as well,” Rohl said of the 12-year-old pivot. “He hit another two touchdown passes, ran one in, and just had a stellar game again. He’s been kind of the heart and soul of our offence all season.
“He showed up big, and so did the players around him, which was awesome.”
The Storm’s final opponent of 2021 will be the Calgary Cowboys. It should be a tough game, according to Rohl, as the Cowboys were one of the two teams to beat the Storm in the regular season – and they did so handily, thumping Airdrie 39-0 back on Sept. 18.
Rohl said Airdrie’s lack of running backs, coupled with bad weather, made for a tough battle against the Cowboys the last time around.
“We had no running backs, so we went into that game having to throw the ball the whole game in not the best weather, so that made it a little tough,” he said. “Once they got up on us and we knew we were in a tough spot offensively, our guys unfortunately shut down mentally in that game and it just kind of ran away on us.
“I think where we are mentally now, we’ll give them a way better game than what we did in Week 4. We’re a much better team mentally and physically, and we’re playing at a different level than we were in Week 4.”
The Nov. 6 final will get underway at Shouldice Athletic Park’s Hellard Field in Calgary at 2 p.m.
While the Storm prepare for one last tilt, one of the city’s other competitive minor tackle football teams – the Airdrie Raiders – fell agonizingly short of their own berth in the bantam-age championship game.
After the Raiders ended the regular season with a 7-1 record, the Airdrie team shut out the Calgary Mavericks 32-0 in the Calgary Bantam Football Association (CBFA) quarterfinals on Oct. 16.
Unfortunately, the Raiders’ season came to a close the following weekend, when the team lost 11-10 to the Calgary Cowboys in the league’s semi-finals on Oct. 23.
Rohl said the Raiders' loss came amid “gnarly” weather that impacted both teams' performances.
“Neither team’s offence scored a touchdown in that game,” he said, adding the Raiders' points came from a defensive touchdown and a safety, while the Cowboys also recorded a defensive touchdown, in addition to three punted singles.
“It was one of those games where, if the weather was different, I would have bet money on the Raiders winning,” he said. “Sometimes, the football gods and weather gods don’t cooperate.”