Matt Merkley, No. 85 with the Lakers Red, sprints down field late in the fourth quarter of the Alumni Game on Sept. 2. While this run did not make it in for a touchdown, Merkley made a huge gain for the Red Lakers , and put them in position for their final touchdown, which in the end won the game. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

20 years of football in Sylvan Lake celebrated with game

Thirty past players came out for a special alumni game on Sept. 2.

H.J. Cody High School celebrated 20 years of football this past weekend with a special alumni game.

The game brought back 31 players from the H.J. Cody Lakers who had all played within the past 20 years.

All those who played at the H.J. Cody field on Sept. 2 had graduated between the years of 2001 and 2015, with the exception of Jeremy Martins, the coach for the Tigers, and Jeremy Braitenback, the coach for the Lakers.

Both coaches took to the field to play alongside the alumni players, with Braitenback playing as the Red Team’s quarterback.

He said it was a great feeling to play on the field with his past players.

“It was really nice to be able to show them I actually knew what I was talking about,” Braitenback said after the game.

The game was pretty evenly matched the whole way through, with the Red Team just speaking past the Black Team to win the game.

It ended up being only a two point game with much back and forth entire time. It could have easily went either way, especially if the Black Team had been able to make it through with their last two-point conversion with only seconds left in the game.

In the end it didn’t matter who won, as the announcer happily cheered “The Lakers won!”

“It was great for everyone to come back and come together to celebrate this thing that a lot of people have worked hard on over the past 20 years,” Braitenback said.

The purpose of the alumni game, according to Braitenback was to celebrate everyone who made the past 20 years of football a possibility, especially when no one though it would last this long.

The highlight of the game for Braitenback was being able to work with these players and coaches. For them to all come together and talk and reminisce has been a great experience, for Braitenback especially as the Lakers coach for the past 20 years.

Braitenback called it a great day.

“It was great to talk to everyone and play. It was also really great to see the fans come out and support it,” he said.

The game brought out somewhere around 100 fans to watch the game of full contact nine-man football.

Only two weeks before the game, it was unclear whether or not there would be enough players to fill out the roster.

As it stood, the teams only had about six substitutes during the game, meaning all the players had to play outside of their position in both offence and defence.

To be bale to celebrate 20 years of football, not only at the high school but in Sylvan Lake, was a great feeling, said Braitenback.

The game showcased the magnitude of the game in Sylvan Lake.

“I think it has grown each year just a little bit,” said Braitenback pointing out there are many people who have worked to get the game this far in town.

Football has grown in popularity in town, to the point a minor football association has started in town.

Now young athletes can experience the game before starting high school, which allows for more rounded players at that stage.

Braitenback said there were a great many people who had made not only the Lakers, but football in Sylvan Lake, a success.

“There are so many people, I can’t think of them all individually, but they know who they are, and we couldn’t have made it this far without them,” Braitenback said.

“I look forward to the next 20 years.”

The game was followed by a fundraiser event for the Sylvan Lake Minor Football at Hockey Central. All participants in the game went out for an evening and fun fun and socializing while raising money for their sport.

megan.roth@sylvanlakenews.com

 

Thirty-one past Lakers came together for a special alumni game on Saturday to celebrate 20 years of Lakers football in Sylvan Lake. The game hosted at the H.J. Cody field was followed up by a fundraiser at Hockey Central for Sylvan Lake Minor Football. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News