The Moose Jaw High School Football League's two undefeated teams go head-to-head on Friday night in Yorkton when the Central Cyclones and Yorkton Raiders battle for first place.
"Up to this point it's the biggest game of the season and for some of these kids it's probably the biggest game they'll play in their careers," stated Central head coach Colin Belsher. "This can really set the tone for the rest of the year, Yorkton is an extremely strong team and this will really let us know where we are in the league because right now Yorkton is the team to beat."
The Cyclones and Raiders come in with identical 3-0 records, but Yorkton sits in top spot thanks to a league leading 103 points for and just 29 points against. Central isn't far behind with 73 points scored and only 38 against in their three games.
Belsher has put the favourite label on Yorkton and playing the underdog card with his team, "Sure we're 3-0, but when you break it down, we're .500 when it comes down to halves played, we've won three and lost three, but fortunately for us, the three that we've won have trumped the three that we've lost and these guys know that anyone in this league can beat us. You won't win football games unless you play four quarters of football.
Senior quarterback Bren Forbes echoed that statement, saying they need to start fast against the Raiders to get the win, "We've had some tough starts this year and I think that's the main thing that we're focusing on is coming out in front of that Yorkton crowd and get something started right off the bat so that we aren't behind in the momentum."
The game is shaping up to be one for the ages with it being played under the lights at Kinsmen Century Field in Yorkton and a crowd of close to 1,000 fans are expected to be on hand.
"It's going to be a spectacle of a game," said Belsher. "All week I've told the players that their only focus is on the Yorkton Raiders, the coaches will look after the rest, but they're focus is on the field. By no means do I not want them to take it all in because it's going to be a great experience for them, going to play under the lights and in front of some many fans, but we're there for a purpose and that's to take a win away from Yorkton."
Linebacker Dylan Pisio says he's really looking forward to playing in this game, "This is going to be unreal. I don't think I'll ever experience anything like this again, so I'm going to make the best of it.
"I can already tell that a lot of the guys are nervous. This is a new experience for the majority of players, so it's a learning curve for everyone and we're going to go in there with an open mind and do our best to get the win."
Forbes says there's a mixture of nerves and excitment heading into the game, "It's going to be a new experience, so there's excitement and nerves because you don't really know what to expect. When it all boils down to it, it's just another game and just come out and play how we can play."
The Cyclones do have the benefit of having a coach who's played in quite a few big games himself with former Rider and NFL player Matt Dominguez as their offensive coordinator. Belsher says Dominguez has talked to the kids about playing within themselves, "He reflects on situations he's been in and ways that he's learnt. He also reminds them that we're out there to play football and there's going to be lots of outside pressures that you might be feeling, but when it comes down to it, it's man-on-man, 12-man football."
The Raiders will be a tough test for the Cyclones especially on offence where they run a triple option attack led by the league's leading rusher, Zach Kais and quarterback Dalton Fitchner, who's third in the league.
"They run a lot movement in the backfield, running backs go everywhere and slotbacks go everywhere, so really we just have to stick to one guy and hopefully let the offence do their job and we'll do our job, so hopefully that prevails for us," explained Pisio.
They kick off in Yorkton at 7:00pm. Other High School Football action on Friday has the 2-1 Peacock Tornadoes hosting the 2-1 Swift Current Colts at Gutheridge Field in a battle for third place in the league. They hit the field at 4:00pm. Vanier heads to Estevan on Saturday for an afternoon game.