TISDALE — After a 40-point victory over the Fort Qu’Appelle Bison in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Tisdale Middle & Secondary School football team has advanced to the nine-man provincial semifinals.
The TMSS Tornados blew past the Bison, 62-22, in Tisdale last Saturday in a provincial quarterfinal matchup. The Bison represent Bert Fox Community School in Fort Qu’Appelle and Balcarres Community School. The Tornados, now 7-0, hit the road Saturday to play Delisle Composite School in the semifinals.
“It was just an all-around great team win. … Everybody was doing their job,” TMSS head coach Keenan Carrier said of beating Fort Qu’Appelle. “Our defence was flying around, making plays when they had to. Special teams was making plays. We got a punt return touchdown. Our offence was spreading the ball out well. They really responded. Every single drive, they were making sure they were getting those first downs. Getting those first downs led to touchdowns.”
In its own quarterfinal matchup, Delisle downed Indian Head, 43-6. The Rebels were 2-2 in the regular season. In its conference playoff tilt, Delisle beat Humboldt, 43-15. Carrier said his players understand that in the final four the competition will be stiff.
“From what I’ve seen so far, they are a very well coached team,” Carrier said of the Rebels. “They’re going to play very physical against us. You can tell that every little thing they do is very crisp as well.”
While they will be on the road this week, the Tornados appreciated the support they received from the community in their quarterfinal matchup with the Bison.
“It was a massive crowd for the end of October, being a little chilly outside too,” Carrier said. “People blowing airhorns. You had people driving by with flags in the back of their trucks. It was a pretty awesome sight to see.
“It was almost like the whole town came together. I know even a couple businesses around town closed down for the afternoon to come watch the game. The support from all the volunteers and all the volunteers from the school, it was a pretty exciting time for everybody.”
In the first quarter of the contest, the Bison scored on their second play from scrimmage. The Tisdale coaches gathered their troops for a talk.
“Just saying that’s not the team we have on our sideline,” Carrier said.
The Tornados responded to the challenge. They scored on the next drive. When the Bison got the ball back, the TMSS defence forced a two and out. The Tornados went on to lead 41-6 at halftime. Regarding Fort Qu’Appelle’s early score, Carrier said of his team:
“They weren’t fazed by it. They weren’t holding their heads down. They knew that it is a long game. ‘Hey, we made a mistake here. We can right our wrongs.’ They really came out and responded well.”
The head coach emphasized the Tornados must avoid a slow start against the Rebels.
“We are going to have to come out ready right from the opening whistle,” Carrier said. “We can’t have that same start we had against Fort Qu’Appelle because a team like Delisle isn’t going to let you come back from that. I’m definitely excited for the challenge.”
In the second half against the Bison, TMSS was able to get its younger players onto the field.
“What an experience for those kids,” Carrier said. “Playing in a provincial quarterfinal when you are in Grade 9 or 10, not a lot of people get to do that so that was definitely some reps for them and a great opportunity for them.”