TISDALE — Three Tisdale Middle & Secondary School gridiron standouts are headed to the next level.
Jakeb Cortus, Landon Thibault and Kolton Knutson all signed with Canadian Junior Football League teams on June 1, the national signing day. Cortus and Thibault will now be foes in the Prairie Football Conference. Cortus, a running back, has signed with the Regina Thunder, while slotback Thibault will play for the Saskatoon Hilltops. Knutson, an offensive lineman, is headed west to suit up for the Chilliwack, B.C.-based Valley Huskers.
When asked what he is looking forward to about playing junior football, Cortus said to “Continue working towards competition, being part of a team, and being able to continue playing football after high school.”
TMMS Tornados head coach Keenan Carrier, who played junior football with the Hilltops, said he could not be prouder of all three players.
“I know the rest of the coaches and their teammates were ecstatic when we got the news that they will all be continuing their football careers,” Carrier said. “They are great representatives of the Tornado Football program, of our school, and of our community. All of Tisdale will be watching those three closely as the go make a name for themselves in the Canadian Junior Football League.”
Last fall the TMSS football team went 6-0 in conference play. It won its provincial quarterfinals match up by 40 points, 62-22, over the Fort Qu’Appelle Bison. TMSS fell in a hard-fought nine-man provincial semifinal contest to Delisle Composite School. Cortus, Thibault and Knutson all played big roles for the Tornados.
“Their work ethic and competitiveness were major reasons we had the season that we had,” Carrier said. “Having those three move on to the next level speaks volumes to how hard they worked and how determined they were to make their dreams a reality. Not only is it great for them but it's also great for the football community we have in this town. These younger athletes are watching and seeing the success that these three are having and they understand that if they put their mind to it, they can continue to play football after high school as well. Jakeb, Landon, and Kolton were outstanding leaders for that next generation of players, and they will be greatly missed next season.”
Regarding playing for the Tornados, Thibault said, “To me what made it so enjoyable starts with the incredible coaches I had along the way and having all my friends there with me just made it an amazing experience.”
While his two now former teammates are staying in Saskatchewan, Knutson was drawn west.
“Just the opportunity to have the chance to go and play in B.C. was very tempting as well as being able to see and experience all of the things that are different than small town Saskatchewan,” he said.
Knutson’s father is Shaun Twarzynski, his mother is Christen Knutson, and his stepmom is Dakota Praski. He appreciates their backing.
“My family has always been supportive of me playing football and when I told them that my plan was to play after high school, they said that was fine as long as I have a plan B,” Knutson said.
Knutson, Thibault and Cortus all will focus on football and work in the fall. Cortus plans to pursue power engineering next year. He is thankful for how his parents – Dean and Kali Cortus – has supported his football career.
“[They] never miss a game, buy gym membership and camp registrations, watching and signing up for opportunities throughout the province, and spending lots of hours behind the wheel driving me where I needed to go, living in the northeast makes everything that much further away,” he said.
Like his now former teammates, the son of Quentin and Lesley Thibault appreciates what his parents have done for him.
“I owe a lot to my parents for paying my team fees and supporting me at all the games, especially in November when it’s minus 20 outside,” he said. “Most of all I just thank them for their support in the last four years of my football career and hopefully there’s more to come.”