Alberta and Saskatchewan set to battle for U-16 Western supremacy

by Braydon Stachel

REGINA – The hosts from Saskatchewan will be looking for their fourth straight title as they take on Alberta in the final of the 2024 Football Canada U-16 Western Challenge at Leibel Field in Regina. Saskatchewan advanced to the final by shutting out Manitoba 38-0 on Wednesday, while Alberta upset B.C. 28-7, denying the west coasters their fourth straight spot in the final. Alberta will be looking for its first championship since 2018, after winning the first two editions of the event.

In Wednesday’s first semifinal, Alberta’s ground game took over, as they put up 314 yards, compared to only 50 on the ground from B.C. Xander Odenyn led the Alberta rushers with 103 yards on nine carries, while Nash Marzoff, Owen Parkerand Matthew Delpeche each scored touchdowns on the ground. Alberta’s other major came on a Nima Rahmani interception return in the fourth quarter. 

The Albertans led 7-0 after the first quarter, and 14-7 at halftime before putting the game out of reach with a pair of fourth-quarter scores. B.C’s only touchdown came on a 23-yard pass from Patricio Cuesta Leon to Cody Hagel in the second quarter.

Nash Marzoff was Alberta’s leading passer, completing three of seven attempts for 61 yards, while Xander Odenyo led the Alberta receivers with three catches for 61 yards.

For B.C., Cuesta Leon completed eight of 16 attempts for 104 yards, while Hagel led their receivers with 62 yards on three catches. Cuesta Leon was also B.C.’s leading rusher, with 30 yards on seven carries.

Defensively, Rahmani led Alberta with 2.5 tackles and the interception return touchdown. Connor Woods had the only sack for the victors on the afternoon. B.C.’s efforts were led by Sahjivir Gill, who had a pair of interceptions, while JaipaulBains picked off one pass and Owen West had a game-high seven tackles (four solo, seven assisted).

In total, Alberta outgained B.C. 379 to 168 and made 19 first downs to 11 for B.C.

In Wednesday’s second semifinal, Marcus Adams scored four touchdowns to lead Saskatchewan to a 38-0 shutout win over their neighbours from Manitoba. Adams scored on runs of 41, 1, 31 and 2 yards out to keep the hosts’ quest for a fourth straight championship on track.

Adams finished with 13 carries for 142 yards, while teammate Cohen Phillips had 88 yards on 11 carries. Rayan Gebhart had the other Team Sask touchdown, as his only carry of the game went for nine yards and a score. Altogether, Saskatchewan amassed 263 rushing yards, while holding Manitoba to only 28. In total, they racked up 413 yards of total offence, to 124 from Manitoba.

Gavin Newell was Saskatchewan’s leading passer, with 12 completions on 18 attempts for 131 yards. Ethan Mamer led the receivers with 53 yards on four catches.

For Manitoba, Jack Jaworski completed five of 14 passes for 72 yards, with Alex Haywood the pick of the receivers with 49 yards on one catch. Haywood was also Manitoba’s leading rusher, with 25 yards on seven carries.

Defensively, Nickson Goldstone led Saskatchewan with six tackles (five solo, two assisted). Saskatchewan made three sacks, with Noah Bosch making two and the other by Jackson Gording-Dovell. Michael Kenny was the leading tackler for Manitoba, with 6.5 tackles (four solo, five assisted). MachrayLong of Manitoba had the game’s only interception.

Saturday’s bronze medal game will see Manitoba take on B.C. at 11 a.m. (all times local), with Manitoba seeking its first-ever bronze medal, and B.C. hoping to avoid its first fourth-place finish since 2018. The championship game will follow, starting at 2 p.m. Live broadcasts are available HERE

(H/T John Edwards)

About Football Canada 

Football Canada is the national governing body for amateur football in Canada. Established in 1884, its mission is to foster the growth of football in Canada and provide leadership, coordination, and resources to help young athletes achieve their full potential. Football Canada oversees various national championships. 

About Football Saskatchewan 

Football Saskatchewan is the provincial governing body for amateur football in Saskatchewan. It is dedicated to promoting and developing football at all levels within the province. Football Saskatchewan provides support and resources for players, coaches, and officials, ensuring the growth and success of the sport. By organizing events like the U16 Western Challenge, Football Saskatchewan helps young athletes showcase their talents and fosters a love for the game. The organization is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all participants, encouraging teamwork, perseverance, and excellence. 

About the U16 Western Challenge 

The U16 Western Challenge is an annual football competition that brings together the best young talent from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Hosted by Football Saskatchewan, this year’s event runs from July 1st to 6th, with games taking place on July 3rd and July 6th.

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