The weather on Friday afternoon was a cool and windy 12 degrees Celsius, but that didn’t stop the St. Paul Lions football team from making a roaring start in their season opener game against the Westlock Thunderbirds, trouncing them 49-0 on home ground.
After the first half which saw both teams evenly matched, the Thunderbirds started taking injuries. “(The Thunderbirds) were right with us for quite some time,” says Todd Tanasichuk, co-head coach of the Lions. “As the game progressed, they kept going down, and we just knew physically we were taking it to them.”
The Lions’ perseverance with playing their physical game paid off in a major way, with the sacking of Thunderbirds’ quarterback, Austin Mueller, six times over the course of the game. Meanwhile, Lions’ quarterback Wayne Fiddler passed for a total of 154 yards and three touchdowns.
“Westlock’s a tough team, giving us a lot of resistance,” says John Lumby, co-head coach for the Lions. “Our guys are a little rusty on their execution, but we’re finally staring to click, and play our game.”
The Lions got on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass to Stephan John in the second quarter. “It just felt beautiful,” John replied when asked how he felt about the first touchdown of the game. “Once I caught it, I knew there wasn’t anyone beside me, and I kept on running.”
According to Tanasichuk, John’s touchdown pass broke the game open for the Lions. “Once the dam broke, we started to do a lot more good things.” The Lions went on to score five more touchdowns during the rest of the game, of which two were touchdown passes to Mark Proskiw and Justin Smith. Joshua Pelham, Dominic Dion and Cy Whiskeyjack contributed the other three touchdowns of the game.
The Lions’ win on Friday was the 22nd straight regular-season-home-win for the Lions, with the streak dating back to 2002, according to an e-mail sent to the Journal.
Tanasichuk expects tough competition when the Lions go up against the Athabasca Pacers next Friday in an away game. “We have to correct a lot of mistakes; we made a lot of mistakes in our first game, so we need to get better every week.
“This game had good things, but there are things we got to get better at. There are things that if we play better football teams, we’re going to pay if we keep on making the same mistakes. So, we need to correct our mistakes and that takes time.”