The Vanier Vikings knew coming into the Moose Jaw High School Football season that with so few numbers in their line-up, any kind of a run by the injury bug would have devastating consequences when it came to their chances to win.
You can have all the top-flight athletes in the world, but if they start getting hurt, things are going to come apart very quickly.
That nightmare came to fruition against the Swift Current Colts on Saturday at Gutheridge Field, as several players were unable to play through the constant dings and bangs, giving the Colts the opening they needed to take a 28-21 victory.
“That’s the reality of football, some days are going to be like that,” said Vikings coach Ryan Gottselig. “I did like how our younger kids and even some of our older guys who got thrust into a position they weren’t comfortable with responded. They gave it their best out there.… It’s the first day where we’ve had a series of guys go down and we were kind of looking for that next guy to go in. That kind of hurt us as the game went on and it was tough to recover from.”
Vanier was able to put together a 14-0 lead in the first half on a 15-yard run by Cole Coroy with 4:15 remaining in the first quarter and a six-yard run by Ryan Stefanovic with 5:29 left in the second.
Then came the momentum changing play — Matthew Kimpinski hauled in a 27-yard pass from Austin Beverly-Collins with 2:04 until half, giving Swift Current life at a key time of the game.
The Colts came out flying after the break, first getting a 70-yard punt return touchdown from Nic Baichu and then a 24-yard pick-six by Brock Lemay on Vanier’s ensuing drive. Just like that, Swift Current had a 21-14 lead.
“Just our first couple sets after halftime, getting that long punt return helped us out,” Baichu said. “We were doing good, our blocks were coming up and the boys were coming back to the huddle getting all hyped up. We kept that going through halftime and it was exactly what we needed.”
Kimpinski extended the lead to 28-14 with 3:43 left in the third quarter when he hauled in a 20-yard pass. Stefanovic ran in from six yards out just before the start of the fourth quarter to bring Vanier within a touchdown, but that would be as close as they’d get.
“We had chances early to get up a score or a couple scores and it just came down to execution mistakes,” Gottselig said. “Then they got the momentum and their kids played really, really hard. All the credit to them.”
Bachiu finished the game with five catches for 91 yards for the Colts, with Beverly-Collins going 11-for 21 passing for 164 yards. Parker Strojwas led Swift Current’s ground attack with 13 carries for 64 yards.
Coroy had seven catches for 70 yards for Vanier while Stefanovic was 17-for-27 passing for 135 yards. He was also the Vikings’ top rusher with 14 carries for 51 yards.
Swift Current improved to 2-3 with the win; Vanier fell to 2-2 with the loss.