MOOSE JAW - Matt Schell says the league championship for the Estevan Coldwell Banker Choice Real Estate U12 Chargers football team was for everyone who has been part of the Chargers program.
The Chargers blanked the host Moose Jaw Spartans 27-0 Saturday evening in the Moose Jaw Minor Football League’s U12 final. It was the first title ever for a team in Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football, which was established in 2008.
“I’m just grateful that Estevan has a program, and it’s a great feeling to put these kids (on the field),” said Schell.
He was there when the Chargers were formed in 2008, and were part of the Regina Football League. They switched to the Moose Jaw circuit a few years later. Schell recalls those tough games for a new program.
Schell, who has been the Chargers head coach since 2019, believes the program is now well on its way to a lot of success.
“I share this with Estevan Minor Football as a whole,” said Schell. “This championship is for everybody. It’s not just for myself or my personal goals. This is big for EMF and this one goes out to all of the players that donned the Charger uniform in the past, and all of the coaches that have been part of the organization.”
Schell said he couldn’t ask for a better group of kids or a better group of parents, as many of them provided support on so many different levels during the season.
TJ Thompson finished with three touchdowns, and Taylor Lisafeld had the other.
“We took what we learned about the Spartans from our previous game, that shootout a couple weeks prior (a 60-51 Estevan win). We put all of our efforts into stopping their offence,” Schell said.
Defensive coach James Haagsman put together a great defensive game plan, Schell said. Running back Zander Pelletier was moved to defence to add speed and size, and adjusted very well.
During practice, the Chargers mimicked the Spartans defensive schemes so that the offence would be prepared.
“We also did their offence to make our defence more aware of what they’re doing. These kids were on it. We had a great week of practice,” said Schell. “We worked hard. We got used to the cold weather, because if you want to play in the championship, you’re going to have to get used to the cold weather.”
The Chargers dropped their opening game of the season, and then rattled off five straight wins to finish first in the league at 5-1. Two of the wins were against the Spartans.
In the semifinal round, Estevan trounced the Weyburn Ravens 64-0.
The Chargers did not allow a point in the postseason, which was stunning because Schell said the Spartans were a “heck of a football team.”
“Was I expecting us to shut out Moose Jaw? No. I was expecting it to be a tight game. I knew it wasn’t going to be a shootout. Moose Jaw thought it was going to be another 111-point game, but I knew it wasn’t.”
The final was played in Moose Jaw even though Estevan had the better record. A contingent of Estevan fans travelled to Moose Jaw for the game.
“To see the smiles on these kids’ faces, that’s why I coach, and that’s why we’re all in it, is for these kids. The trophy’s great and all, but to see these kids through this, and to be there with them, every step of the way, that’s what it’s all about.”
About eight players are eligible to return next year. The rest will move up to the Estevan Lions Club U14 Oilers male team or the Estevan Kinette Club U18 Viragos female team. Schell said there’s a good contingent of players ready to move up from the Estevan Power Dodge U10 Cudas program as well.
“I’m already excited for next year.”