By Joel van der Veen
DAVIDSON — An uncertain week gave way to optimism on Thursday as Davidson coaches agreed to move forward on another season of senior football.
Early last week, the coming season appeared to be in jeopardy with nine or 10 players showing up at the first two practices, well short of the minimum number required for a six-man team.
But Thursday’s practice drew 14 players, said coach Jason Low, adding that he’s also waiting to hear from “maybe a few more who are on the fence.”
“We decided to give it a go,” he said Friday in a phone call from Outlook, where he was attending a coaching convention hosted by Football Saskatchewan.
The Davidson Raiders will begin their season with a home game against Lanigan on Friday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m.
The team plays in the 2A league in a conference that also includes Assiniboia, Preeceville, Watrous and Wynyard. (Watson was originally part of the league but had to drop out due to low player numbers.)
Davidson’s coaching staff this year includes Low, John Jamieson and Garrett Bailey, along with Greg Bennett, a new addition to the staff at Davidson School. (Bailey and Bennett are also leading the school’s junior football program.)
Kenaston principal Greg McJannet is joining the coaching staff of the Outlook High School Blues, where his son is on the roster. Trevor Ouellette, whose son Addison graduated last year, also decided to retire from coaching football after last season.
The Raiders have a co-op agreement with three area schools, allowing players from Craik, Kenaston and Loreburn to play on the team.
The senior team met three times last week and will soon transition into its regular schedule of early-morning practices.
Low attributed the low initial turnout to a couple of factors, including some miscommunication. For instance, he said some out-of-town parents were unaware of the co-op arrangement and didn’t know their kids were eligible to play.
As well, some potential players have chosen to focus on one specific sport like basketball.
Eight players graduated from Grade 12 last year, including much of the team’s offensive core.
This year Davidson also has to contend with a small Grade 12 class, meaning fewer potential players.
“We’re kind of back to our drawing board this year,” said Low, calling it something of an “anomaly year.”
While the coach wasn’t sure about what the season would hold, he said he’s looking forward to it, adding that the players have demonstrated their enthusiasm and willingness to work hard.
Last year Davidson finished the regular season in third place out of four teams in their conference with two wins and four losses. They lost 49-12 to Assiniboia in the first round of playoffs.