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Spartans soar past Hawks
October 4, 2006
By Barry Williams
Olds, Albertan

In nature a soaring hawk is usually successful in pouncing on its prey.
Although the Hanna Hawks were soaring on top of the Big Sky Football Conference with a perfect 5-0 record, their prey on Saturday, Sept. 1, the Olds Spartans, were not intimidated by the high flying Hawks.
Playing perhaps their best game of the season, the Spartans defeated the Hawks 10-1 and kept their chances of making the playoffs alive.
In five league games, the Spartans have won three games and lost a pair and are in the hunt for a berth into post season play.
"This game was our acid test," said Spartans' head coach George Grant.
"Hanna came into this game undefeated in league play and if we want to make the playoffs , we know we have to go through them" Grant said.
"So with this said, this game was a huge win, it keeps us in contention of prolonging our season," Grant added.
With the most potent offence in the league, the Spartans' defensive core stepped up their play and kept the Hawks off the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter when they gained their only point on a missed field goal.
Throughout the game, the Hawks were able to gain yardage along the ground but their passing game was completely shut down.
Grant indicated the Hawks perhaps have the best quarterback and receiving core in the league but their offensive statistics failed to impress the Spartans' defensive line-up.
When the Spartans defence shut down Hanna's running game in the first half, they decided to throw the ball more often in the third and fourth quarters. But the Spartans took away any threat of a long bomb, forcing the Hawks to dump the ball out on short hitch passes.
"We allowed them to gain yardage in the middle of the field but when they were thraetning to score we shut them completely down," Grant added.
Early in the first quarter, the Spartans spoiled the Hawks' offence with a goal line stand and later blocked a field goal.
"When our defence stopped them on our goal line, the players suddenly believed they could win this game," Grant added.
On their first pocession of the ball, the Spartans marched the ball down field and settled for a field goal by kicker Michael Turner.
At half time, the field goal was still holding up as the Spartans went into the intermission with a slim 3-0 lead.
For most of the third and fourth quarters, the plays from scrimmage were mostly three downs and out for both teams.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Spartans recovered a fumble deep in the Hawks' end and they capitalized on this turnover when running back Tuen VanderBroek turned a broken play into a touchdown.
According to Grant, the difference in the game was the Spartans' burning desire to keep focussed on the task at hand.
"We didn't lose our focus throughout the entire game," Grant said.
"All the players on the team believed they could win this game and this is what they focussed on throughout the entire week of practices," Grant concluded.
This weekend, the Spartans will be participating in the Calgary High School Football Festival and will play the Chestermere Cowboys on Friday Oct. 6.


Spartans opening training camp
By Barry Williams
August 22, 2006
Olds Albertan

Ready, set hut; it's football time again.
With the opening of training camp on Monday Aug. 21, the Olds High School Spartans will be entering their ninth season in the Big Sky Football Conference and there is optimism this will be their best season ever.
"Our coaching staff is confident this will be the best squad we've fielded since forming the team nine years ago," said Spartans head coach, George Grant.
"We have made the playoffs seven consecutive times and this season the players are expecting to step it up a notch and qualify for the league championship," Grant added.
Although the Spartans graduated sixteen players last year, Grant indicated there is a solid core of returning players to anchor the squad.
According to Grant, the returning players have at least one season of experience behind them so they no what is expected of them on and off the field.
"Right now we're looking at carrying a roster of 40 players which will be a balanced mixture of veteran and rookie players," Grant added.
And as the team gathers for their initial work-out of the season, the rookie players will have some knowledge of the game.
" we're expecting to carry approximately sixteen graduating players from the Rotary Bantam Bulldogs," Grant said.
Coupled in with these players will probably be a handful of players with no or very little experience playing the game.
"There is an open door policy with this team and we have never turned any athlete down," Grant added.
In fact, Grant welcomes the greenhorn players as it offers the coaching staff the opportunity of molding a player into the Spartans' system.
With the success the Bulldogs have had in the Central Football League, Grant believes their graduating players will provide a new enthusiasm for the Spartans.
Because the Spartans and the Bulldogs work hand in hand, Grant indicated all players on this years' roster will be on the same page.
Actually the Spartans are fortunate they can rely on the Bulldogs feeding them players noted Grant.
"The only adjustment for the Bulldog players is becoming familiar with playing twelve man football," Grant said noting, the Bantam league uses a nine man system.
Competition within the Big Sky football League is extremely tough as past league champions have went on to win the 3A High School provincial football championship.
"I expect the competition within the league this year to be very competitive as most teams will be carrying veteran rosters," said Grant indicating, their will be parity amongst the teams.
As for the Spartans, Grant expects to field a strong defensive team as most defenders will be experienced. Although most of the graduating players were strong offensive players, Grant still believes the Spartans will still be an offensive threat in every game.
Before the Big Sky football Conference kicks off the 2006 season on Sept. 6, the Spartans will travel to Hanna to participate in a modified tournament on Aug. 25, 2006.
"This tournament will allow the coaching staff the opportunity of evaluating the team and make changes before the season starts," Grant said.
This season, the Spartans will start league play on the road as they will journey to Hanna to play the Hawks on Sept. 6, 2006.
Grant welcomes the opportunity of commencing the season on the road as it allows the players the opportunity to bond and create friendships.
Be sides the pre-season tournament in Hanna, the Spartans will be part of the High School Football Festival held on Nov.11, 2006 in Calgary. At this event, the spartans will play the Chestermere Lakers at McMahon Stadium.


Lady Spartans rugby season ends on winning note
By Barry Williams
June 12, 2006

Olds Albertan

If success was measured in determination, dedication and commitment, the Olds High School lady Spartans' rugby team would always be a winner.
Playing in the Trinity Chiropractic Bowl held in Red Deer on Tuesday June 6, the Spartans true characteristics were at the forefront as they downed Rocky Mountain House 17-10 to end the current season on a winning note.
Although the Spartans failed to claim the Central Alberta High School Rugby League championship, the experience they gained by qualifying for and playing in the league's post season tournament was invaluable. Their only win in the league's championship tournament was against Rocky Mountain House.
Playing in their final game of the current season,, the Spartans were down 5-0 to Rocky Mountain House at half time but took control of the game in the second half to clinch the victory.
It was a game in which either team could have won as the momentum changed with virtually every play from scrimmage.
"This was probably the best game we played all season," said Spartans' head coach, George Grant, noting the players focus never changed after spotting Rocky Mountain House the early lead in the match.
"They never gave up and were determined they would win the game," Grant added.
As the game progressed, Grant indicated the Spartans became better and started to dominate it in different facets.
"Our strong point was definitely in the scrums as we won several key battles when they were threatening to score," said Grant.
According to Grant, the Spartans size was a factor in the scrums as the Spartans were pushing Rocky Mountain House around.
"Because we were so strong in the scrums, we gained control of the ball," Grant said, indicating ball possession is always key throughout the game.
"In most scrums, we started to push them around a bit," Grant noted.
When the ball was in the Spartans' hands, Grant indicated they were able to move it down field
by capitalizing on their outside speed.
"I thought we made smart decisions when we had the ball," Grant noted.
For the most part, the Spartans ability to change the play by using short and long passes kept the Rocky Mountain house defenders guessing as to what the Spartans were going to throw against them.
This was the first season the Spartans dressed a Junior Rugby squad and Grant feels by fielding two rugby teams the program will only get stronger in years to come.
"Our younger players played with a lot of enthusiasm throughout the entire season," Grant said.
Although the games were separate for the teams, Grant indicated they practiced together and this was beneficial for the girls playing the sport for the very first time.
"I believe the rugby program will become stronger in the years to come," Grant concluded.
With the rugby season now wrapped up, it concludes a successful athletic program at the high school.


Rugby squads are competitive
By Barry Williams
June 12, 2006
Olds Albertan

Despite playing in a highly rated girls high school rugby league, Olds and Innisfail are fielding competitive teams.
This is the first season, a junior girls' rugby team has been fielded at both the Innisfail and Olds high schools.
Meanwhile, the Spartans senior girls rugby team is entering their third year of participating in the Central Alberta Sr. Girls High School Rugby League.
Despite losing 24-0 to Rimbey in a game played in Olds on Wed. May 10, Spartans head coach, George Grant isn't too worried about the outcome of the game.
"The scoreboard didn't reflect what was happening on the field," said Grant.
Actually, the game was quite exciting as the teams seemed to be evenly matched and during the contest they were very aggressive in their play making bone crushing tackles, being involved in fierce scrums and making electrifying runs.
Although the Sr. Girls Spartans were down into Rimbey's end several times, they were unable to punch the ball over Rimbey's goal line for a try better known as a score.
On the other side of the ball, Rimbey set their goal scoring drives up with lengthy runs on the outside and by controlling the scrums.
When Rimbey had control of the ball, their forward progress was assisted by timely blocks which allowed their speedy half backs the opportunity to set up runs with substantial yardage.
"Rimbey was able to control the ball every time they had possession," said Grant.
Grant indicated a couple of their runners were very fast and their quickness allowed them to avoid tackles.
Offensively Rimbey was able to control the ball to the outside and set up running plays indicated Grant.
"I don't think they were better than us offensively," said Grant.
"Their ability to keep the ball moving forward was better than ours," Grant added.
Although the Spartans failed to score, offensively they moved the ball with authority down the field. Unfortunately, they were unable to take advantage of their scoring opportunities.
"I thought the difference in the game was Rimbey's ability to control the ball," Grant added.
Playing in the trenches, the middle of the field, was tough and the Spartans experienced problems handling Rimbey's size.
"Rimbey is a bigger team and we couldn't handle them," Grant said.
Regardless of the score, Grant noted he was proud of the way the girls played.
"Our girls never gave up and played with heart right up to the end of the game," Grant said.
As for the Junior Girls' Spartans rugby team, Grant indicated they have a tremendous amount of potential and their skill level improved during their game.
"For first year players, I was impressed with them," Grant said.
Grant indicated the players on the junior squad are good athletes and they will be able to catch onto the game quickly.
"They are all eager to learn about the game, they have a good attitude and their work ethic is commendable, "Grant said.
"By the end of the season, they will show improvement," Grant said.
Although their knowledge of the game is limited, Grant said the junior squad is trying to execute plays they have learned in practice.
With the addition of the junior girls rugby team, Grant noted the senior program will get stronger in years to come
"The skills they learned while playing with the junior team can be transferred to the senior level," added Grant.
This past Monday, May 15, the junior squad played the Innisfail junior team. Results of the game were not known at press time.
according to Grant, Innisfail's rugby program will show growth over the years and develop competitive teams.
"We haven't played Innisfail this year so I don't know much about their team," Grant noted.
Grant did indicate, Innisfail has excellent coaching and this will be a benefit for the players.
"I believe Innisfail will be very competitive in a couple of years," Grant said.
Competition within the high school rugby league will continue until the middle of June.


Bronze medals awarded to Spartan wrestlers at Alberta Open
By Barry Williams
February 27, 2006
Olds Albertan

Three Olds Spartans' wrestlers were awarded bronze medals at the Alberta Open wrestling championships held in High River this past weekend.
An age classed tournament, the Alberta Open attracts the province's top wrestlers from various wrestling clubs throughout Alberta.
In the Cadet female category, Rehanne Ritchie captured a bronze medal while Amanda Tracey and Hayley Smith managed 6th place showings. Meanwhile, Dannielle Lappage managed a ninth place finish. As a team, the Spartan female wrestlers finished in third place behind the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta, the eventual winners.
Only one male wrestler was able to crack a top ten showing in the Cadet male competition as Curtis Garrett placed 4th.
Three male wrestlers placed within the top ten in the Juvenile competition. Lee McKay placed 5th with Chris Akkermans finishing 6th. Sitting in 7th place was Ryan Tracey.
With the province's top senior male wrestlers participating in the Crecco-Roman division, Lee McKay was in tough competition but the veteran wrestler proved to be one of the best capturing a bronze medal.
"Because this competition is a provincial tournament, the best wrestlers are competing," said Spartans wrestling coach George Grant.
"I was quite pleased with the performance of all our wrestlers at this tournament," Grant said.
According to Grant, the Spartan wrestlers were never out-wrestled and the top ten placings were very gratifying.
"It is certainly gratifying to see our wrestlers can wrestle with the best athletes from the bigger clubs," said Grant, noting the wrestlers should be very proud of their performances.
And besides the current Spartan wrestlers participating at the event, two former Spartan wrestlers were competing for the university clubs. Ian Warrington is a member of the University of Alberta Golden Bears wrestling club and Dan Forget wrestles for the university of Calgary Dinos.
"I had the opportunity to talk to these two wrestlers (Forget and Warrington) and it is nice to see these athletes take what they learned in high school and apply it on the university level," Grant added.
"University wrestling is extremely competitive and these two wrestlers are not out of place in the higher calibre of wrestling," Grant noted.
And with the former Spartans at the provincial tournament, Grant indicated their presence was a motivator for the high school wrestlers.
"Both wrestlers are a role model for our younger wrestlers and they have proven academics and athletics can go hand and hand at the university level," Grant said.
"To participate in any sport at university takes dedication towards the sport and also towards academics," Grant indicated.
"It's difficult handling the pressures of attending practices, competing at tournaments and concentrating on academics while in university" Grant said.
Grant indicated Forget and Warrington are extremely dedicated athletes and honor students.
"I sincerely hope their appearance at this tournament has shed a light on what can be accomplished by any high school athlete after graduation," Grant noted.
This weekend, the Spartans journey to Wetaskawin to participate in the Alberta 3A High School Wrestling Championships.
From April 7-8, several members will be competing in the National High School Wrestling championships being held in Edmonton
"Because the National tournament is close to home, we will be well represented at this event," Grant concluded.


Lady Spartans heading to zones
By Barry Williams
February 27, 2006
Olds Albertan

When the Olds Spartans' senior girls' basketball team heads to the southern zone playoffs scheduled for Strathmore from March 10-12, they should be at the height of their game.
During the month of February, the lady Spartans have been hitting the tournament trail and they have garnished sucessful results.
At their most recent tournament, the Spartans' Basketball Classic, they were engaged in an exciting final game against Camrose.
And when the final buzzer sounded, the Spartans were at the short end of a 54-50 cliff hanger.
"Camrose is one of the best 3A teams in the province, so this game was an excellent indicator to see how we match-up with the northern teams," said Spartans' head coach Tom Christensen.
According to Christensen, the match-up between the Spartans and Camrose is pretty even as indicated by the final game score.

Using a full court press against Camrose, the Spartans displayed an aggresive defence and for the most part kept Camrose's high octane offence at bay throughout most of the game.
With four minutes left in the game, the Spartans held the edge on the scoreboard but couldn't stop Camrose's eight point run.
"Our shooting went cold towards the end of the game and we couldn't hold on to the lead," Christensen said.
After defeating Trochu Valley in their first game of the tournament, the Spartans
then defeated Sylvan Lake in a defensive battle.
"On both sides of the tournament draw, the games were very competitive," said Christensen,
indicating all the games were fairly close on the scoreboard.
"Right now, our girls are playing really good ball and I am confident they will carry this into the zone playoffs," Christensen added.
"Traditionally, the team winning our zone playoffs does extremely well at
provincials," said Christensen noting, the south central zone has produced the provincial 3A champion four out of the past five years.
Christensen believes, Springbank, Brooks and High River will be the favored teams at the upcoming zones.
Although the lady Spartans could be ranked in the middle of the teams participating at the zone championships, he believes they have an excellent chance of advancing to the provincial girls 3A championship.
With most of the teams participating at the zones ranked provincially, Christensen feels the Spartans will thrive on the tough competition.
"Throuhout the season, the players have proven they are extremely competitive against tougher competition," Christensen concluded.


No longer push overs
By Barry Williams
February 13, 2006
Olds Albertan

At one time, the Olds High School Spartans' wrestling club was considered to be push overs; not any more.
Now with competitive athletes dedicated to the sport along with strong coaching the wrestlers are being noticed by other athletes and coaches throughout the province.
"Our wrestlers certainly are not push overs anymore," said Spartans' wrestling club head coach, George Grant.
"They have gained the respect they truly deserve from other coaches and athletes," said Grant.
Although the athletes have spent countless hours practicing and attending tournaments, Grant feels the dedication towards the sport has reaped dividends for the athletes.
" Before when we attended tournaments, very few of our wrestlers advanced to
the final round," Grant noted.
Now, in the past couple of years, the wrestlers are not only wrestling in the final
round of matches, they are claiming medals for their gusty performances.
"It's quite a difference now," said Grant.
"Instead of setting their sights on wrestling their best, all of the wrestlers are now confident they can win each and every match," Grant said.
One of the reasons the wrestlers are improving is due their increased knowledge of the sport, Grant indicated.
According to Grant, when the wrestlers are not involved in a match they are usually studying their opponents and taking notes on how to wrestle against them if they meet in future matches.
"In most matches, our wrestlers are now making the first move and are being aggresive," indicated Grant.
And as a result the wrestlers are establishing their own style and developing their moves, which is allowing them to be less predictable.
"When our veteran wrestlers attended their first matches, they usually used about three or four different basic moves," said Grant.
"Now they're being creative and developing moves of their own," added Grant.
At the William Abrahart High School wrestling tournameet held this past weekend, in Calgary three Spartan wrestlers, Chris Akkermans, Joshua Holgerson and Dannielle Lappage claimed silver medals.
"This was an excellent tournament for our wrestlers for it gave them the opportunity to wrestle against wrestlers from the Calgary high schools," said Grant.
" Our athletes were not out of place at this tournament and they wrestled really well," Grant said.
At the Edmonton High School Invitational held last weekend, Dannielle Lappage placed a respectful fourth.
During the tournament she wrestled against wrestlers from Edmonton, rural Alberta and Saskatchewan. Included in her matches were nationally ranked competitors.
This coming weekend, the junior wrestlers (Grades 8 & 9) will be attending the Junior Olympics at Rundle College in Calgary.
Grant believes the athletes attending this tournament should do really well as there are some up and coming wrestlers in the junior program.
In the next week, the senor wrestlers will be preparing for the Rural Alberta Provincial Championships scheduled for Grande Prairie from March 2-3, 2006.
 


Lady Spartans capture West Cental Rocky tournament
By Barry Williams
February 6, 2006
Olds Albertan

Playing perhaps their best basketball of the season, the Olds Spartans Sr. Girls
basketball team captured the West Central Rocky Tournament played
at Rocky Mountain House this past weekend.
With the top 2A and 3A Sr. Girls basketball teams throughout central Alberta
participating, the competition at the tournament was very competitive with many of the games being decided late in the fourth quarter.
"I thought the competition at this tournament was extremely tough and very
competitive," said Lady Spartans head coach Tom Christensen.
"This was a good tournament for us to attend as it allowed us the opportunity to
play teams we haven't seen this year," Christensen said.
According to Christensen, the girls met the challenge of the tournament head on playing their hearts out in each and every game.
"I can't say enough about how well the girls played at this tournament," Christensen said, According to Christensen, this was the first time the Spartans faced provincially ranked teams and his expectations on how the girls played was beyond belief.
Although the Spartans went through the tournament undefeated Christensen felt every team had an equal opportunity of winning the tournament.
Because of the level of parity between the teams, Christensen indicated most of the games played on Saturday were exciting and highly entertaining.
"We didn't know who we would be playing in the play-off round until the final game of the round robin was completed, the competition was that close," Christensen noted.
In round robin tournament play, the Spartans defeated Drayton Valley 46-41 and West Central of Rocky Mountain House 46-43.
They met Hill Top High School of, White Court, in the championship game defeating them 64-54.
"The championship game was really exciting, we needed a late rally in the second half to win the game," Christensen said.
Christensen indicated the championship game changed leads several times and a run of ten consecutive points late in the game clinched the victory for the Spartans.
"I was very proud of the way the girls played in the championship game," said Christensen.
When White Court would go on a run and take the lead in the game, Christensen noted the girls never panicked and played hard right up to the final buzzer.
As for scoring, not one player dominated the scoreboard as the players played together as a team rather as individuals christensen indicated.
"With the way the girls played at Rocky Mountain House, they have set a stage for a good February," said Christensen.
And during the month of February, the Spartans will face stiff competition as they will compete at a tournament in Hanna this coming weekend and conclude the month's competition with the annual Spartan Classic Basketball Tournament scheduled from February, 24-25.
Regarded as the best 2A-3A basketball tournament within the province, the Hanna tournament will feature former provincial champions from Lacombe, Medicine Hat, Camrose as well as teams from Red Deer.
In Olds teams from High River, Sylvan lake, Fort McLeod and Camrose will be the feature draws.
"Our tournament has always attracted highly ranked 2A and 3A teams from across the province and the competition has always been tough," said Christensen.
With the tournament being held at the end of February, Christensen noted it is an excellent way for the Spartans to prepare for the provincials usually scheduled in March.
It appears the basketball program in Olds is quite strong as the Spartans Junior Girls team appears to be quite strong and Deer Meadows has an excellent Grade 8 program.


Wrestlers hitting the mats
By Barry Williams
January 23, 2006
Olds Albertan

Over twenty female and male Olds Spartans' grappers are hitting the mats in anticipation of upcoming wrestling matches scheduled for the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.
This coming Friday, Jan. 27, the Spartan wrestlers will be attending a high school wrestling tournament at the University of Calgary.
According to Spartans' wrestling coach, George Grant, approximately 200 male and female wrestlers will be attending the Calgary tournament and he expects the competition will be extremely competitive.
"Traditionally, most of the southern high school wrestling clubs enter this tournament and the competition has always been tough," Grant said.
"In the past, most of the provincial wrestling contenders have come from the southern high schools," said Grant.
"Most of these schools have had established wrestling programs for years and their competitors are comfortable at wrestling any type of competition," Grant added.
"These schools usally tend to be more competitive and they probably have the best coaching within the province," indicated Grant.
According to Grant the Calgary tournament is usually the first one scheduled after the Christmas break and the wrestlers are anxious to hit the mats.
And to further their competitiveness, the wrestlers will be heading for the University of Alberta tournament on the weekend of Feb. 4th.
At this meet, Grant expects to see most of the competitive clubs from northern Alberta and he indicated the wrestlers are looking forward to the matches against their northern Alberta competitors.
"We don't see the northern wrestlers as much as we do from the southern schools so the University of Alberta tournament gives our wrestlers the opportunity of wrestling some unfamiliar foes," added Grant.
Earlier in the year, the Spartan Wrestling Club numbered into the thirties but some competitors have dropped out due to different reasons.
Grant noted up to 25 wrestlers have made practices lately.
"It's not too late to join the wrestling club and we're always looking for new members," Grant added.
Although wrestling is an indivdual sport, Grant noted there has been an added interest in the sport the past few years.
"Because the wrestling club has enjoyed some success within the past few year, more and more athletes are becoming interested in the wrestling club," Grant added.
Although the wrestling club only graduated three members last year, Grant indicated there is a good mix of veteran and rookie wrestlers this season.
"Some of our older students are trying the sport for the first time this year and from all indications they are certainly enjoying it," noted Grant.
"We have a good mix of veteran and rookie wrestlers this season," Grant said.
Grant indicated the veteran wrestlers are willing to help out the rookies and there is an excellent support system established between all the members of the club.
"Most of the veteran wrestlers are more than happy to teach and assist the rookies with their moves," Grant said
"The comradery between the wrestlers is fantastic," Grant added.
And according to Grant, most of the wrestlers are multi-sport athletes as some have played football, basketball, rugby and track and field during their high school years.
Besides the interest within the athletes, Grant noted more people are stepping forward to assist the club with coaching.
And Grant indicated the new coaches are willing to learn everything possible about coaching wrestlers.
"I've been coaching the wrestling club for ten years and this is the first time I've had help," Grant noted.
"It's nice to see people outside the athletes becoming involved with the sport," Grant concluded.
Because the gym at the Olds high school is smaller than most, Grant noted it prohibits the club from holding home tournaments.


Spartans honor football players
By Barry Williams
December 12, 2005

A very successful season for the Olds Spartans, members of the Big Sky Football Conference, came to an end on Thursday, Dec. 8 when the team handed out their year end awards at the Royal Canadian Legion.

For the graduating players it marked the conclusion of a three year tenure with the Spartans and for the returning warriors it is the beginning of a new season.
"This was probably the most successful season for the football program at the high school," said head coach, George Grant.

"When we held our first practice back in August, the players set a goal of making the play offs and they accomplished this," Grant added.

With several rookie players in the line-up, Grant realized it would be a season of transition as most of the new players were graduates of the Rotary Bantam Bulldogs.

Although the season started on a losing note, the players came together mid-way through the schedule and they qualified for the play offs.

By virtue of a loss to the powerful Black Diamond Riggers in post season, the season came to an end for seven graduating players.

"Our graduating players were an important part of the team," said Grant, noting the players were veterans of three seasons.

"Some of these players never played organized football before high school and their transition into really good football players has never been overlooked," Grant noted.

Towards the end of the season, university football scouts became interested in Spartan players and as a result some players will be trying out for the University of Calgary Dinos.

"Because we had the interest from the University of Calgary, our football program has gained the respect of the other teams in the Big Sky football Conference," said Grant.

"It also says a lot about our players athletic ability and their work effort and dedication to the game," said Grant.

Grant noted the Spartans work closely with the Rotary Bantam Bulldogs as most of the rookie players have some experience with the Bulldogs.

"They (Bulldogs) have an excellent program and we're excited when their graduating players try out for the Spartans," Grant added.

"Every season the Spartans' football program has seen improvement and this is mostly due to what the players have learned playing Bantam football," Grant added.

Although there is an adjustment for the rookie players into high school football, they usually feel comfortable playing with a twelve man roster as compared to the nine man game implemented in Bantam football.

"When graduates of the Bulldogs enter high school football they have the knowledge and the experience playing organized football," Grant said.
"For our coaches, this past playing experience makes it easier to teach the rookie players," Grant added.

With a veteran team suiting up next year, Grant feels the Spartans could possibly be a contender for league honors.

"Since most of our offence was made up of rookie players this season, we should be an offensive threat next year," Grant added.

Besides individual awards from the Spartans, a presentation was made to the players receiving league all-star honors.

This year the Spartans placed seven players on the all-star roster. These included, Tuen VandenBroek,, defensive back; Lee M cKay, defensive lineman; Quinton Warawa, defensive lineman; Liam Reed, kicker, punter, receiver, running back and quarterback; and Derek Olson, running back.

"Because the all-star awards are selected by the league coaches, being named as an all-star is quite an accomplishment for these players," Grant said.
Outside linebacker, Nick Moore was named the Spartans Rookie of the Year while the top offensive lineman went to offensive guard Zach Wray.

Top Defensive Player was awarded to David Ehrmann with quarterback, Joe Crawford and punter, kicker running back Liam Reed sharing the top Offensive Player award.

Meanwhile two players, defensive lineman, Dan Cline and running back Joshua Holgerson were named the Player Contributing The Most With The Least amount of Recognition.

Middle linebacker, Matt Vandale was named the Most Valuable Player.
Recipients of the awards were voted by their team-mates and validated by the coaching staff.


Bulldogs finish second again

By Barry Williams
October 31, 2005

 

               For  the second year in a row, the Olds Rotary Bantam Bulldogs have placed second in the Central Alberta Football League

           Last week the Bulldogs played two playoff games. In the semi-final game played last Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Bull Dogs defeated Hunting Hills 14-12 which automatically qualified them for the championship game against Notre Dame, who defeated the Bulldogs 24-14 in Red Deer on Saturday, Oct. 30.

    Although the Bulldogs took a bite out of  Hunting Hills, it proved to be a very costly game as they lost two quarterbacks due to injury, Tony Hammer and Tyler Jenkins which meant the coaching staff had just a couple of days to train Taylor Grenier for the position.

     "Both injuries to our quarterbacks happened at the end of tackles and were not dirty plays," said Bulldogs head coach Garth Dagg, noting injuries are part of the game.

     "Our coaching staff didn't have much time to get Grenier ready for the game but they did the best they could considering the circumstances," Dagg said.

     Although Dagg failed to blame the quarterback injuries for the outcome of the championship game, he did note the game could have been closer if either injured quarterback could have played.

    Dagg indicated the game against Hunting Hills kept the fans on the edge of their seats as the outcome was not known until the final buzzer sounded.

    "This game was more exciting then last year's championship," Dagg said.

    With a new signal caller, Dagg thought the Bulldogs would experience problems moving the ball downfield but the direct opposite happened.

    "Actually I was surprised at how easily we moved the ball against them," Dagg added.

    According to Dagg, Notre Dame had the best defense in the league and were capable of stopping the opposition regardless if they moved the ball on the ground or through the air.

    "Because of the quarterback situation we ran a fairly basic offence with just four different plays in our playbook," said Dagg.

    Judging from the first half of play, it looked as if Notre Dame was going to walk away with the game as they held a commanding 14-0 half time lead.

    "Our defense played extremely well and they certainly gave the offence a chance to win the game," Dagg added.

    For the most part, the Bulldogs kept the ball on the ground. However when they had the opportunity to cross into Nortre Dame's end zone their attack was snuffed out.

    At half time, Notre Dame held a comfortable 18-0 lead.

   During the half time intermission, the Bulldogs made some adjustment to the offensive attack and it proved to be rewarding as the Bulldogs scored their first touchdown mid way through the third quarter closing the margin to 18-7.

   And when the fourth quarter commenced the Bulldogs moved the ball downfield scoring another touchdown. As a result of the touch down they were back in the game taking care of the momentum.

   "We put a scare into them when we scored our second touch down, " Dagg said.

   With another season in the record books, Dagg will start to concentrate on next year and he believes another competitive team will be put on the grid iron.

   "If all of our first year players return next year we will have a very strong team," Dagg concluded.  


Drillers defeat Spartans in playoff battle

By Barry Williams
October 31, 2005

 

      For the second consecutive year the Black Diamond Oilfields Drillers have defeated the Olds Spartans in Big Sky Football Conference playoff action.

      Playing in Black Diamond on Saturday, Oct. 30, the Drillers held off a late surge by the Spartans to earn a hard fought 13-8 victory.

        Once again it was a game within a game as both teams dominated one half of playing time. In the first half, the Drillers built up a 13-0 half time lead while in the second half the Spartans closed the gap by scoring a touchdown and a single point on a missed field goal.

    One of the Drillers' touchdowns was came on a long downfield march while the other the Spartans coverage broke down as the Drillers returned a punt.

    Again it was a game of breaks, as the Drillers were able to capitalize on two Spartans' mistakes while the Spartans failed to convert a drive on a fumble recovery early in the third quarter.

    On the Spartans' major score, quarterback Joey Crawford hit Liam Reed on a twenty yard pass and run play.

    "We were able to move the ball on most of our plays from scrimmage but when we were near the Drillers' goal line we were unable to punch the ball into the end zone," said Spartans' head coach, George Grant.

    "They (Drillers) have a very good defense who react quickly to the ball," said Grant.

    In an effort to confuse the Drillers' defensive line backers, the Spartans mixed their plays up along the ground and through the air. During practice last week, the offensive coaching staff introduced some new plays which they thought would pick the Drillers' offence a part.

    "We had good luck throwing the ball in the second half," said Grant, indicating the Spartans made an adjustment to the offensive plays during half time.

    According to Grant, the Drillers defensive line backers are excellent in breaking up throwing plays as they always have close coverage against opposition receivers.

    "Their line backers are excellent tacklers and when we were able to complete a pass the yards gained after the catch were very little," Grant said.

     "I think if we would have had more time to work on our offensive plays at practices it could have been a different game," Grant noted.

     Despite being eliminated from post season play, Grant is very proud of the way his players played during the season.

      "Our defense was mainly veteran players and anyone could tell they were experienced at their positions," said Grant

      "One thing we  worked extremely hard at this year was our pass coverage," Grant said.

     "For the most part, the Spartans' defensive coverage caught the eye of opposition coaches as most commented on how difficult it was to air the ball out against them.

      "It is unfortunate, we will be losing most of our defense due to graduation," commented Grant.

     "Our defensive line was pretty big and mobile and they were able to open wholes in order to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks," said Grant.

     If there was a drawback to the defensive core it was the smaller size of the line backers.

       "All of the returning defensive players know they have to become stronger and they have vowed to work on their conditioning over the winter," added Grant.

       With a totally new offensive backfield, the offence experienced some problems moving the ball early in the season but by time the time playoffs rolled along they had a decent playbook to work on.

       "Although most of our new offensive players had experience with the Bantam Bulldogs, it took them time in adjusting to the quicker pace of high school football," said Grant.

       To add speed and diversity to the offensive backfield, Liam Reed was moved from quarterback to tail back. Most of the plays from scrimmage were called by rookie quarterback Joe Crawford.

     "For the most part, I was pleased with the play of Crawford," said Grant.

     "Once he (Crawford) became comfortable in using our playbook and reading the defensive formations he showed steady improvement."

      With the departure of Reed, the Spartans will be looking for a new offensive speedster and a place kicker.

      With this year in the books, the Spartans will start to prepare for next year in December by being involved with weight training. Spring Camp will open in mid May and fall camp at the end of August.


Spartans heading into playoffs

By Barry Williams
October 24, 2005

      For the third consecutive year, the Olds Spartans are heading into the Big Sky Football Conference playoffs.

     On Sat. Oct 23 in their final game of the season, the Spartans solidified their post season appearance by defeating Rimbey 30-8.

     Despite dominating the game on both sides of the ball, Spartans' head coach, George Grant indicated the game failed to reflect the scoreboard.

     "Actually it was a very good football game," Grant said, noting the Spartans were prepared for the Rimbey squad.

     "Although Rimbey has yet to win a league game they can't be taken lightly," said Grant.

    "We prepared for them like we do every team in this league," added Grant, indicating the Spartans had an excellent week of practices.

    According to Grant, Rimbey was probably the most improved team in the league.

   "They are very well coached, have some excellent athletes and I suspect they will have a breakout season next year," Grant noted.

   And Grant and the Spartan players can identify with Rimbey's situation as they had a tough two years when they entered league play.

   In the past three years, Grant has seen the Spartans grow into a league contender and he credits the athletic ability of the players for the team's fortunes.

   "Some of the players were playing the game for the very first time this season," said Grant.

   And with the majority of rookies suiting up for the offence Grant was somewhat cautious in predicting their future on the field.

   When the Spartans broke training camp, Grant was certain the offence would take time in coming together as a unit. However, with the assistance of the few returning offensive players, all the rookies worked extremely hard, were students of the game and at times played with a bit of an edge.

    Throughout the entire season Grant noticed improvement on both sides of the ball and he believes the Spartans can be a threat in the playoffs this season.

    "Last year in the playoffs we lost to Black Diamond in a thrilling game," said Grant.

    "Because of last year's experience, our veteran players learned more about the game and they are willing to prepare our new recruits for this year's playoffs," added Grant.

    With a veteran defensive squad, the Spartans were one of the best defensive teams in the league this season and Grant feels their maturity will come forward in post season play.

    "our defensive line is big and mobile while the linebackers are quick and excellent tacklers," said Grant.

    "What surprised me this year was their ability to read the play regardless of the different formations the opposing offence used," noted Grant.

    Offensively, the Spartans were led by a rookie quarterback, Joe Crawford, who was flanked by largely by rookie running backs and veteran receivers.

    "Because Crawford was such a good Bantam quarterback with the Bulldogs the past two seasons can't say I was surprised by  his improvement this season," said Grant.

    In the huddle, Crawford had the assistance of last year's signal caller, Liam Reed, who switched to halfback to give the Spartans speed in their backfield. Reed also doubled as the team's place kicker.

    "He (Reed) has a strong leg and is fairly accurate," said Grant noting Reed made several crucial field goals in league play.

    With the league operating with  north and south divisions this year, the teams cross over for the playoffs.

    Although the south division had some larger schools, Grant indicated the caliber of all the teams is fairly even so he expects the playoffs to be very competitive.

    Post season play commences this weekend.


Bulldogs take a bite out of the Cougars

By Barry Williams
October 17, 2005

     Never under estimate the bite of a bulldog even if you're a cougar.

     In Central Alberta Minor Football League action played in Olds, on Oct.15, the Bantam Rotary Bulldogs continued their winning ways by defeating the Notre Dame Cougars 28-14 in a game played in Olds.

    It was a game within a game as the first half was dominated by the Bulldogs and the second half belonged to the Cougars.

    When the teams headed to their dressing rooms at the end of the second quarter, the Bulldogs held a convincing 21-0 lead.

    Throughout the entire first half the Bulldogs controlled the play, racking up yardage along the ground against the Cougars defensive core.

     In fact the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage and they never looked back.

    On their second possession of the ball, they marched the ball downfield over 80 yards for another major score.  When they took the ball over on their third series of downs, the Bulldogs started within the shadow of the goal posts and marched downfield to rack up another touchdown.

    Although they were never cocky about their massive 21-0 lead at half time, the Bulldogs were outplayed in the third quarter as the Cougars fought back closing the point spread to just seven points by the start of the fourth quarter.

     Trailing 21-14 heading into the final quarter, the Cougars pressured the Bulldogs at the line of scrimmage and were starting to regain the momentum which they took over in the third quarter by scoring their points as a result of Bulldogs' turn overs.

     A Bulldogs' touchdown midway through the fourth quarter provided the margin of victory for the Bulldogs.

     Although this was the first meeting between the two teams, Bulldogs' coach Garth Dagg felt the Cougars would try to air the ball out on any occasion in the second half, their passing attack  was nullified by the Bulldogs' strong pass coverage.

    "Our coaching staff thought the Cougars would try to move the ball through the air so our emphasis on the defensive side of the ball was working on pass coverage, said Bulldogs' coach, Garth Dagg.

    For the most part, Dagg was pleased with the Bulldogs pass coverage noting the defensive backs  kept themselves between the receiver and the Cougars' quarterback.

    To make things a bit more complicated, the Cougars quarterback was a south paw so the passing plays were a direct opposite of what the Bulldogs were practicing all week long.

    I thought our defense adjusted quite well to their quarterback," said Dagg.

    "Our defensive coverage by our cornerbacks and halfbacks was very tight throughout the entire game," added Dagg.

    Offensively, the Bulldogs were allowed to run the ball with authority and their running attack punished the Cougars' defensive core.

    Most of the Bulldogs' running attack included end around sweeps and quarterback draws.

    "We have some very fast running backs and the coaching staff feels if our offensive line can spring them around the end and into some open field they will be very effective," Dagg said.

    "Our offensive line was able to clear holes for the halfbacks and as a result we had some impressive runs through the middle," Dagg added.

     Although the bulldogs impressive win was a blowout on the scoreboard, the action on the field failed to reflect the score.

    "They (Cougars) started to move the ball in the third quarter and took the momentum away from us," said Dagg.

    "When they scored two touchdowns in the third quarter, our players didn't panic and eventually we regained the momentum and held it until the end of the game," Dagg noted.

     Last year the Bulldogs won the league championship and Dagg feels they stand an excellent chance at reclaiming league honors when this year's post season play rolls along.


Spartans developing rivalry with Drillers

By Barry Williams
October 17, 2005

     A rivalry between the Oilfields Sr. Drillers and the Olds Spartans, both members of the Big Sky Football Conference, was re-united on Sat. Oct. 15 in Olds.

    In a battle of two defensive minded teams, the Drillers emerged with a 15-7 victory over the Spartans.

    Throughout the entire contest, the defense of both teams was dominant as  both offences were faced with a three and out situation.

    After a scoreless first quarter, the Drillers scored both of their touchdowns in the second quarter while the Spartans managed to post their points in the third quarter.

    When the teams' offences were able to gain yardage in the middle of the field, they sputtered when they hit the oppositions twenty-five yard line.

    Both teams had their chances to punch the ball into the end zone but in most cases the drives were shut down because of turnovers either as fumbles, interceptions or being stopped on third down gambles.

    "We knew Olds had a very good defense and I wasn't surprised we had trouble moving the ball against them," said Drillers coach Mark Vanderveen.

     "They are extremely tough to run against as they have a dominant defensive line," said Vanderveen.

    When the Drillers running backs thought they had a hole to gain yardage through, it was quickly filled by the Spartans' defensive linebackers.

    Although the Drillers managed to score a couple of touchdowns their offensive yardage was limited. One of the Drillers romp to the end zone came off an interception while the other one was a direct result of a very long punt return.

    Meanwhile, the Spartans only major came late in the third quarter when they faked a field goal.

    With the Drillers win, they went above the 500 mark for the first time this year with a record of four wins against three defeats.

     The loss for the Spartans was also their third of the year and moved their season stats to four wins against three defeats.

     And with the restructuring of the Big Sky Football Conference into a north and south division, there is a chance of the two teams meeting in the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Last year in the post season play, the Drillers defeated the Spartans 39-33.

     Because the two teams are so evenly matched, Vanderveen believes a re-match between the teams in post season play would provide for an interesting game as the teams have developed a rivalry.

     "I'd like to see a rematch of last year's playoff game," Vanderveen said.

     Meanwhile, Spartans head coach George Grant was satisfied with the Spartans effort although they were on the short end of the scoreboard..

    "Give our players credit, they never gave up and battled to the end of the game," Grant said.

    According to Grant, the Spartans made some adjustments at half time and they were better prepared to play in the second half.

    "The Drillers use a lot of play action from the line of scrimmage and for the most part our defense was patient letting the play develop before they attacked," said Grant.   

    "Overall, our defense played well and they can't be blamed for this loss," added Grant.

    Offensively, the Spartans were able to move the ball along the ground but struggled with the passing game,

    "Their defense will let the opposing team run against them but the yardage gained is usually short, a few yards here and a few yards there," Grant said.

    When the Spartans tried to air the ball out, the long bomb was taken away from them largely due to the tight coverage of the Drillers cornerbacks.

    "Their pass coverage was better than ours and I believe this was the difference in the game," Grant noted.

    This week the Spartans tangle with Rimbey and Grant is not taking them lightly.

    "Although Rimbey has struggled this year they have excellent coaching and are due for a breakout game," Grant noted.


Spartans prepared for home opener

By Barry Williams
September 19, 2005

      After playing three games on the road to commence the 2005 Big Sky Football Conference league action, the Olds  Spartans are eager and prepared for their home opener scheduled for Sat. Sept. 24 against the Hanna Hawks.

    It will be the second match-up for the grid iron warriors and fans can expect an exciting game. In their first game between the clubs in Hanna, the Spartans came home with a victory.

    "Hanna has always been a powerhouse in the league and I am almost certain they will be seeking revenge for our  early season win against them ," said Spartans' Head Coach, George Grant.

    In their first game against Hanna, the Spartans received an outstanding effort from the defensive core  and Grant is expecting another stellar effort from his linebackers.

    "In our first game with Hanna, our defensive linebackers were able to penetrate the offensive line and put pressure on their quarterback," Grant said.

    Every year, Hanna has been able to put together an explosive offence by implementing  play action from the line of scrimmage and it appears their playbook still has some razzle dazzle in it.

    "Although we have seen Hanna once this year, I don't expect the same team to show up when they play us at home," Grant said.

    "They are very well coached and I suspect they have made some offensive changes," said Grant.

    But at the same time, the Spartans have been working extremely hard to prepare themselves for the  second meeting against the Hawks and Grant is pleased with the way the Spartans have jelled together.

     "Playing three games on the road hasn't hurt us at all," added Grant.

     "In fact, it has helped as our veteran players have built a friendship with the first year players and the comradery between all the players is very very good," explained Grant.

     This past week, the Spartans journeyed to Rimbey and came away with a 17-0 victory.

     Despite having a very young inexperienced team, Grant indicated Rimbey has improved considerably and they can't be taken as the weak sisters of the league anymore.

     "Rimbey has made significant strides in their football program and they are now a very competitive team," Grant added.

     "I was quite surprised with their play, they have improved considerably since last season," Grant said.

     During the game, the Spartans were afforded with the opportunity of playing every member on the roster.

    "Frankly, I was quite surprised at the way our first year players played during this game," Grant added.

    And with the depth on the bench, Grant is convinced the Spartans will have competitive teams for the next two to three years.

   "Some players didn't play as much as others but it gave them an opportunity to show the coaches what they can do in a game situation," Grant noted.

   Rookie quarterback, Hudson Rielly was able to play a full quarter and Grant was pleased with his play.

   "He (Rielly) was able to move the ball along the ground and through the air," Grant added.

   Last year, Rielly played with the Bantam Rotary Bulldogs so he is not unfamiliar with the game.

   According to Grant, most of the rookie  players on the Spartans' roster this season graduated from the Bantam Rotary Bulldogs.

   "They (Bulldogs) have an excellent football program and when their graduating players take the step into the Spartans' line-up they usually fit in right away," said Grant.

    Prior to the Spartans' game on Saturday, the Bulldogs will take to the field at 11a.m., so football fans will be able to see both football teams in action on the same day.


Grid iron warriors defending the turf

By Barry Williams
September 12, 2005

     They may not be as famous as the Canadian Football League stars but to many residents of Olds they are true warriors, defenders of the turf.

     Last week, the Olds High School Spartans commenced play in the Big Sky Football Conference with two road games against Drumheller and Hanna.

     Against Drumheller on Sept. 2, the Spartans ran into a high octane offensive threat as Drumheller defeated the Spartans 30-10.

     Although the score was a bit lopsided, Spartans Head Coach, George Grant, indicated the scoreboard didn't reflect the game on the field.

    "We didn't get the right bounces in the game," said Grant.

    "They scored a couple of touchdowns on turnovers in the second half and it proved to be the difference in the game," Grant added.

    According to Grant, the Spartans played excellent in the first half as Drumheller held a three point lead heading into the intermission.

   "They made some adjustments to their offence during the intermission and we weren't prepared for their changes," Grant added.

   Although the Spartans failed to pick up two points in Drumheller, Grant indicated the game was a learning experience for his players, especially for the offence.

   Heading into the new season, the Spartans were forced to re-organize their offensive backfield as some key positions were contested for by first year players.

   "I thought it would take some time before our offence would begin to jell, but I was surprised," Grant said.

   Despite lacking playing time together, Grant indicated the offensive line-up is comprised of players with a lot of heart and what they lack in playing experience at the high school football level is made up with their eagerness to learn more about the game, dedication and work ethic.

   "I can't say enough about our first year players, they're all excellent athletes," added Grant, indicating as the year progresses they will become better.

   Joe Crawford has moved into the quarterback position and last year's signal caller, Liam Reid, has taken up a spot as a running back.

   With the departure of Carter Hammer from the team, Grant realized he needed a running back with speed and the ability to gain significant yardage.

    "I think he (Liam Reid) will become a dominant running back," indicated Grant.

    For Crawford, playing quarterback is a natural position for him as he has had experience with it as a member of the Bantam Rotary Bulldogs.

    In Hanna, the Spartans faced an experienced team as the Hawks have been past league champions and have qualified for the playoffs ever since the Big Sky Football Conference was formed.

    According to Grant, the defensive struggle against Hanna surprised him as the Hawks have always fielded teams with an explosive offence.

    "I didn't think their offence played badly, our defense played better than they did in Drumheller," noted Grant.

    "Anytime a team can come home from Hanna with a victory, they've done something right," Grant said.

    Hanna often implements play action in most of their play from scrimmage and if the opposing defence is not patient they can be burned on almost every play.

    Grant indicated the defensive core pressured Hanna's quarterback throughout the entire game and because of this he was forced to get rid of the ball early thus eliminating their control of the game through the air.

    "Hanna has always had excellent receivers and they can burn the opposing team's defense with the long ball, " said Grant noting, the Spartans defensive coverage on the Hanna receivers was extremely tight throughout the entire game.

    "We didn't give them the opportunity to throw a long bomb and as a result the only yardage they picked up through the air was very very short," Grant said.

    Grant will live with the split in their first two games but realizes if the Spartans are going to be successful they have to show improvement in each and every game.

    This week the Spartans travel to Rimbey for an encounter and will open their home schedule on Sat. Sept. 24 against Hanna.


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