“When we told the kids that Blair passed away, we didn’t know what to expect emotionally from them. And what we got the next week was a very dominating performance,” said Associate Head Coach Dean Pasiuk.
Pasiuk is part of the Lindsay Thurber Junior Raider football team. Their team is 5-0 on the season. They’ve run roughshod over the league and now look to end the season a perfect 6-0.
“I think that we’ve been successful for many of reasons,” Pasiuk tells us. “To start I think the Peewee program has been feeding all three high schools some good athletes.
“Secondly, our team makeup is a really great group of kids that really like each other. They really like the coaching staff and what we’ve put in. Thirdly I think our coaching staff gets along really well.”
The Raiders last game pitted them against the Hunting Hills High School Lightning, who at the time were also 4-0 on the season.
The Raiders pulled out to a big lead and didn’t look back. At the half the score was 24-0. Going into this game, despite the loss of their head coach less than a week earlier, the Junior Raiders were very focused.
“Our kids had this game on the calendar probably since the schedule came out. We came out guns blazing and Hunting really was very flat in the first half,” states Pasiuk.
“From there it’s pretty hard to get back into a football game being down 24 nothing”
That’s no joke. The final score was equivalent to your parents telling you to go get a ‘switch’ right before you get a hiding. Thurber Junior Raiders 48, Hunting Hills 7!
Don’t look now but the Junior Raiders have put Central Alberta on notice. They’re for real. Of course, like any football team, the Junior Raiders have injuries. It comes with the sport of football. There’s walking wounded. There’s some that just can’t play. The scary part is Pasiuk and his team, as dominant as they’ve been, may be able to kick it up a notch.
“I do think that we have another gear. And I think that the team knows we have another gear. And I think that hopefully if we get healthy this season we’ll see that (gear). And hopefully that doesn’t come until the end of the playoffs.”
While the junior Raiders have been pounding teams on the field, off the field it’s a different story. Pasiuk says what happens on the field is not the end all, be all.
“For us the football is secondary. We want to make sure that we make good young men and women for our community and teach them good morals.”
When the X’s and O’s are erased from the board, when all the speeches, cheers and Gatorade is done, the coaches are raising leaders.
There’s also better news on the horizon for high school students in Red Deer as the first Midget division team is set to start play in spring. Giving Red Deer a system that keeps kids playing football from Atom all the way to just before they reach adulthood.
As we look back at the Junior Raiders, one might wonder what was said to the team after the loss of their coach.
Pasiuk says it was simple. “We basically said to the kids the best way to honour Blair is play hard all week in practice and prepare for the opponents we’re going to get on Saturday.
“The best way to pay him homage is to do what he would expect you to do and this is to go out and play the way you can play. They’ve literally left every ounce of their being on the field.”
And the Thurber Junior Raiders share something in common with the Oakland Raiders of NFL.
On Oct. 8th, the NFL lost long-time owner of the Oakland Raider franchise, Al Davis who died at the age of 82. Al was a pioneer in football and will always be remembered, as a man that loved the game. The next day, his team went out and defeated their opponent. Al’s motto was “Just Win Baby”
Which is exactly what the Thurber Junior Raiders are doing, on and off the field.