HUMBOLDT — Based in Spruce Grove, Alta., Craig Albers is looking forward to returning to his hometown this coming weekend.
Albers will be one of a number of Humboldt Collegiate Institute football team alumni cheering on the team Friday night as it celebrates its 50th official season on the gridiron. He suited up for the HCI football team in Grade 12 in the fall of 1976.
“Playing football or any high school sport always brings back fond memories of when you were young and having a good time with your friends,” Albers said. “I even have my original Mohawk football jacket, which I plan to wear to the reunion. Something about your ties to your community/high school and friends that just never ends.”
The team will be hosting a pre-game barbeque from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17. That will be followed by a game against Delisle starting 7:30 p.m.
The 0-1 Mohawks will look to give their alumni a lot to cheer about as they take on Delisle Composite School under the lights on Friday. HCI’s opponent is led by a new coach and the Mohawks, as of Sunday, did not know a lot about the Rebels.
“We are going to use the 50th [celebration], the momentum of a night game, and the good things we did last week and to keep making them better and better,” HCI defensive co-ordinator Shaun Gardiner said. “Hopefully, we’ll show up on Friday and give Delisle a good game.”
Due to a family commitment, Patrick Miller will not be able to attend Friday’s game or the other activities planned for the weekend. The Wetaskiwin, Alta. resident plans to return to watch the Mohawks next season. A member of the 1972 HCI team, he last watched a Mohawks game on Sept. 13, 2019 as part of that year’s Mohawk Reunion.
“I really enjoyed meeting old friends, some that I have stayed in touch with over the years and some that I hadn’t seen since 1973, when I graduated from HCI,” Miller said. “I could not get over the size of the crowd at that game. It was fantastic to see the fan support. It sure wasn’t that way when we played.”
From his days in the football program, Miller said he remembers the football practices the most “because we had a lot of fun.”
“For some reason, some of us got nicknames from our father’s initials. Some of my friends still call me ‘PJ,’” he said. “It was great being part of a team.”
During his time at HCI, Albers played a wide variety of sports: football, volleyball, badminton, basketball, and track and field. He said he received the Athlete of the Year award in his graduating year. In addition to athletics at HCI, Albers was involved in drama, was part of the Student Representative Council, and started dating his future wife, the then Deborah Suchan.
As for his season with the Mohawks, Albers recalls competing in the high school championship game against Tisdale in the snow. Tisdale prevailed. Albers said he returned a punt for a touchdown “slip-sliding around just trying to maintain my balance.”
“Our Mohawk team also did a weekend fundraiser where we played football in the park by the town hall [around the clock]. … Nazareth, Boston, the Eagles, etc. blaring in the background in the dark in the middle of the night,” said Albers, who joked, “Those were the days when you didn’t get shut down for noisy party complaints.