One of the two spots in the Northern Saskatchewan Football League’s championship game belongs to the Creighton Kodiaks. A 44-20 win over the Sandy Bay T-Wolves Oct. 10 clinched the team’s spot in the big dance.
The Kodiaks jumped out to a 28-0 lead early, with Sandy Bay only scoring one touchdown until late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
Running back Evan Madarash crashed in a pair of touchdowns, while Austin McLean and Myles Patterson each found the endzone once. Alexander ran in another touchdown himself while going four for four on converts, scoring a rouge and kicking a field goal.
A turning point in the game came on a Sandy Bay drive in the first quarter. After successfully executing a trick play for a long gain, it was wiped out by a flag.
The T-Wolves had the ball within five yards of the endzone soon after. An unsuccessful run and a penalty pushed the T-Wolves out of close range, failing on a third down conversion attempt.
On the very next play, Kodiaks quarterback Blake Alexander found Austin McLean for a 80-yard touchdown. Following a successful two-point convert - Creighton did not miss a conversion attempt on the day - the Kodiaks led 20-0.
“Offensively, we moved the ball. We were able to make some completions - that big catch by Austin for 80 yards was huge,” said Kodiaks coach Ryan Karakochuk.
“Defensively, we bent but we never broke. I was happy about that.”
The team will go into preparation for their championship game against the Cumberland House Islanders, played in Prince Albert Oct. 19. The Islanders will be gunning for their third title in four years and their second consecutive championship.
With the Ralph Pilz Trophy on the line, the Kodiaks will hope to do what they were unable to do earlier this year - defeat Cumberland House.
Earlier this year, the Islanders beat Creighton 34-28 in Cumberland House. While Creighton led for much of the game, a pair of late touchdowns by league-leading Kaydin Chaboyer and Percy McKenzie made the difference.
That Cumberland win mirrors arguably the two most painful defeats in the Kodiaks’ team history. Two years ago in Prince Albert, with the Kodiaks entering the fourth quarter of the Ralph Pilz Trophy game against Cumberland House with an 18-12 lead, three quick touchdowns from the Islanders sealed a 32-24 win, robbing the Kodiaks of a championship.
A chance at revenge last year with home field advantage went south for the Kodiaks, who lost 16-12 after a potential game-winning touchdown pass from less than ten yards fell incomplete as time expired.
Going over film and experience from the earlier game this season will be the key in preparing for the title game.
“We were playing a team that throws a ton, now we know we’re going to play a team that never throws. The game plan will change,” said Karakochuk.
“I’m happy we got out of here with very few injuries and we’re ready to move on.”
When it came to how he felt the Kodiaks would do with the title on the line, Karakochuk was confident.
“We’re going to go in there and we’re going to win. We want to win the north. We lost by six when we were on the road - now, we’re on a neutral site field. We feel confident,” he said.