South Peace News
The High Prairie Renegades have been sidelined for the rest of the Mighty Peace Football Conference season.
High Prairie suspended play on Oct. 4, according to posts on the Facebook page of the High Prairie and Area Football.
Lack of committed players, health and safety issues were given as the reasons.
“Safety must come first,” says Christine Bradley, president of the High Prairie and Area Football Society, who brought the sport to the community in 2014.
She first made the comment after the Renegades forfeited a game Sept. 28 in Grande Prairie against the Peace-Wapiti Academy Titans.
“We need the players to be committed and come to practice, not just for the games,” Bradley says.
“Football is a strategic contact sport and the plays have to be learned and practiced to help each other be safe.”
Head coach Troy Johnston posted the decision.
“Unfortunately with the lack of players these past few weeks, our team will be unable to compete for the rest of the season,” Johnston posts.
The Renegades were scheduled to play at home Oct. 4 and finish the season Oct. 12 in Grande Prairie.
“Having a team where you are getting only 16 players out to a game on average makes it impossible to keep the athletes healthy,” Johnston says.
“A team should consist of at least 24 athletes which we do not have.”
He is more optimistic for the future.
“I really hope things can turn around next year and maybe players will start to realize without proper practice, we can’t have a team because it is not safe,” Johnston says.
“As coaches, our top priority will always be the safety of the athletes . . .”
He further states the reasons and concerns.
“Our coaches have been trying hard to get people out to practice each week and all we have seen is a decline in numbers,” Johnston says.
“After some discussion as what we should do, we made the decision to end our season early.
“We do not feel comfortable putting any of our players in harm’s way because of lack of numbers.”
It would not be fair to the athletes who really want to play because those dedicated few will be the ones who end up hurt, he says.
Playing their fourth official season and looking for their first-ever win, the Renegades lost three games in 2018; 32-6 against the Sexsmith Sabres, 55-22 to the Whitecourt Cats and 29-6 to the Valleyview Hillside Cougars.
High Prairie became the third team to suspend play this season, leaving the bewildered league with only six teams.
The Peace River Pioneers and Charles Spencer Mavericks of Grande Prairie dropped out in mid-September.