Every championship game is special, but there's a different feeling in the air this week with the two long-time rivals ready to go toe-to-toe.
For the first time since 2008, the Peacock Tornadoes and Central Cyclones will meet to end the Moose Jaw High School Football League season. The two teams square off on Saturday afternoon at Gutheridge Field in the League Championship game, which should provide a thrilling end to the 2015 season.
“With this city final with these two teams in it, both sides are motivated and you've got to be,” said Peacock head coach Blake Buettner. “You've got to be, it's a very old rivalry, the kids know each other, they went to elementary and played football together in minor, so both sides are very motivated.”
“My brother went to Central, my dad went to Central, the rival was there when they were here and it just makes for a fun football game and a really fun city championship,” added Cyclones senior running back Zach Hagerman.
Whenever Peacock and Central hook up on the football field, it seems to end up being a tight game, but you can throw the rivalry out the window this year because these are two very even football teams.
Both teams feature running backs that are the focal point of their offences with Kyle Arndt being key to the Tornadoes' attack, scoring a league-leading 18 touchdowns this season, and for Central, there's Hagerman, who finished second in the league with 1,096 rushing yards.
Unlike in recent years where Peacock has had a definite edge in talent, both teams enter this game on an even playing field and ready to let the game decided who's the best this season. Peacock won their regular season meeting 35-11 in Week 5.
“We can play with them,” said Central head coach Colin Belsher, who's team is making their first appearance in the league final since 2011. “This year is a little bit different for us, we can match up with them this year.”
The Tornadoes enter Saturday's final with 19 straight victories stretching back to the start of the 2013 season and three straight league titles, including back-to-back 3A provincial titles.
The Cyclones will be looking to end that reign and capture the school's 21st league championship. Peacock has 19 overall titles.
“We've been the two best teams all year and we've had to fight all year to get here,” said Hagerman. “This is good for the whole community of Moose Jaw and football in Moose Jaw to see this go down, it's going to be a fun game.”
The Peacock defence has given up the fewest point against this season and they will need to be on top of their game against a Central's offence that seemed to find a groove in the semifinal against Yorkton, exploding for 44 points in a come back win.
Slotback Kahlen Branning lined up all over the field and had over 200 yards and five touchdowns in Central's win last week
“We just need to execute what we've been working on all week in practice,” said Peacock senior defensive end Kayne Pasquet. “They have a lot of key offensive players and we've got to play hard against them and not let them beat us.”
While Peacock's defence just smothers you, the defensive unit for Central will hurt you with a big play. They led the league with a plus-seven turnover rating, while Peacock finished minus-three this season in that category.
“Ball protecting is key for every game, whatever level it is,” said Buettner. “You've got to protect the ball that's always a key thing in football whether its regular season or playoffs.”
Kick-off is at 1:00pm on Saturday afternoon at Gutheridge Field. The winner will advance to the 3A semifinal in Regina to face the O'Neill Titans, who captured the RIFL 3A title on Thursday night.