Reflecting on “great accomplishments”, Sylvan Lake peewee Bears football coach Garnet Rambaut thanked the players, parents and volunteers for their efforts, during the team’s windup banquet last Thursday night at the Lions Hall.
“This year was the most challenging and most rewarding one in the five years I have been with the Bears,” he said. “Right from day one at camp you bought into the team concept — the WE philosophy. Veterans worked with the rookies to help them learn. You have done that every day on the practise field and on game days. It’s about commitment to the team, responsibility to the team.”
The Bears made the B-side championship game this season with a roster of 20 players.
“We allowed only 102 points in nine football games,” said Rambaut. “It’s interesting to note that we ranked number three in points allowed out of the eight teams in our league. Offensively we were very competitive but that is where our injuries really affected our ability to finish drives. It was certainly not from lack of effort.”
He added the team also scored 102 points “so in my mind we sort of broke even on the year”.
“This tremendous game is one that will affect many parts of your life in years to come,” he said. “It will prepare you to face the future with confidence, determination and selflessness.”
Earlier, Rambaut indicated there are many facets to running a football team. “Without our parent volunteers we would have a very tough job making it through a season.” He also thanked manager Diana Zenert “who has been instrumental in the success of our team”. She did an exceptional job looking after all the off-field activities and allowed coaches to concentrate on the task of building football players, he said.
Coaches Geoff Rambaut and Graeme Strathdee were thanked for “their exceptional work and commitment to the team”.
Tara Becker, in her first year as trainer “did a great job. She was invaluable this year keeping track of our players on the sideline and tending to the various injuries incurred.”
Strathdee told the players everyone on the team can be future stars of the H. J. Cody Lakers. Geoff Rambaut expanded on that noting there are about 50 players on the Lakers but the core group of 20 are the players who have come up through the peewee and bantam teams. “You have been there the whole time developing skills, athletic ability.”
Geoff Rambaut added they competed with teams in their league that had 60 players on their roster. The league had the Tier III and Tier IV provincial champions, both teams with rosters of 40 plus players while at the end of the season the Bears has 15 or 16 players. “There were lots of players who didn’t come off the field very much.”
Then it was time to present individual awards to top players.
Patrick Bennett was given the top defensive player award by Strathdee who said the decision was difficult because there were lots of leaders, some who were on the field for the 48 minutes of the game — never came off.
Darian Zager was named the offensive player of the year by Geoff Rambaut. “From when he started he was a dominant player on the team, played both offense and defence and ran the team’s offense.
The rookie of the year award was presented to Brett Zenert by Garnet Rambaut. “As a rookie I don’t think I’ve seen anybody who played hurt the way he did, he gave 110 per cent of the time.”
Defensive lineman of the year was presented to Terrin Stein by Strathdee. “The D-line is the most fun in football,” he said. “You get to stomp on somebody every play unless the guy across from you is bigger then he stomps on you. You don’t have to run that far.”
Josh Parenteau was presented with the offensive lineman of the year award by Geoff Rambaut. “There were a couple of kids who really stood out. The job never gets any credit,” he said. “You just kind of get stuck trying to save everybody’s butt.”
The most improved player award was given to Seth Dolphin by Garnet Rambaut. Stating there were probably two or three players that could have been picked, he said “one consistently just seemed to get a little better and better and better. He would jump in and do anything asked, he just wanted to play.”
Dylan Harnett was named most dedicated player when Strathdee presented the award. “We looked for somebody who’s a leader on the field, a smart guy who knows what’s going on.”
The most intense player award was presented to Ethan West by Geoff Rambaut. “With 18 guys on the team, a lot fit in all categories,” he said. “This player missed a couple of games with a concussion but he came back and didn’t worry about hitting anyone, sticking up for his teammates. He wasn’t scared to do anything all season.”
Kyle Zenert was presented with the Heart of A Bear award by Geoff Rambaut. “This is a kid we knew we could count on … the one person we knew every game was going to carry the ball. He got hurt a couple of times, but came back from injury and never missed a beat.”
The James D. Berg Memorial Trophy for team MVP was presented to Burkely Theriault by Garnet Rambaut who first talked about Berg. “There was something about James you couldn’t help but smile when he walked into a room. He ate, slept and dreamt football.” Berg died just before he was to become head coach of the Bears in 2007.
Theriault was a player “who never came off the field,” said Rambaut. He played offense, defense, all the special teams and was hurt just about every game but didn’t show it. “He led by example, had courage galore, stuck up for his teammates … was like a missile,” he said.
The Berg award included a scholarship to the Alberta Golden Bears Christmas camp.