Central Alberta is well represented on the newly formed Prairie Fire, which will play in the Calgary Midget Football League.
The Fire has 52 players on their roster, including five red shirts, from 10 high schools. The coaching staff, led by GM Dave Laplante and head coach Chris Hall, also represent a wide range of schools from Ponoka, Lacombe, Red Deer, Innisfail, Olds, Rocky Mountain House, Sylvan Lake, Stettler and Winfield.
“The Prairie Fire will fill a void for aspiring football players in Central Alberta,” said Laplante in a press release.
“One of our goals is for the club to be a springboard for an increased number of Central Alberta athletes to play university football and enjoy the benefit of athletic scholarships.”
Laplante and Hall visited every high school in Central Alberta to invite athletes from Grade 9-11 to tryout. One hundred and thirty players attended the seven tryout camps.
“We were overwhelmed by the interest,” said Hall.
“But the numbers prove that there is an interest in this level of football in Central Alberta.
“Making the cuts was brutal,” added Hall. “Everyone who tried out had a passion for the game and something to offer, but you can’t have 130 players on a team.”
The coaching staff kept three quarterbacks, including bantam grade Braydon Moorman of Rocky Mountain House. The others are Kieran Pruden of Notre Dame and Scott Pearson of Hunting Hills.
Tyler Ledwos of Sylvan Lake, will lead a strong and deep receiving core after leading the Central Alberta High School Football League in receiving last season with 29 receptions. Morgan Drews of Sylvan Lake, Ashton Hall of Hunting Hills and Jordan Briault of Notre Dame are also in the group
But the team’s strength may well be at running back with Braden Nelson of Stettler and Myles Corsiatto of Notre Dame, who were two of the top backs in the CAHSFL last season. Nelson led the league with 1,254 yards and a 9.6 yards-per-carry average while Corsiatto had 791 yards and a 7.8 average. Other two backs are Matt Russell of Hunting Hills and Shon Zenert of Sylvan Lake.
Outside of Hall the coaching staff includes offensive coordinator Jeremy Braitenback, defensive coordinator Greg Esteves, special teams and running back coach Jay Hetherington, Kyle Sedwick (offensive line), Adam Donovan (receivers), Greg Thompson (quarterbacks), Aaron Shephard (linebackers), Pat Callan (defensive line) and Devon Mappin (defensive backs).
Dusty Laplante and Allana Hawkes are team managers and run game day operations, Pam Marchesi and Diana Zenert run the booster club, Cathy Hall is creative designer and administrator, Sandy Johnson is the equipment manager, Dr. Nav Rattan, team doctor, and Doug Vesely, trainer.
The Fire opened their six-game season Thursday in Calgary at Shouldice Park.
The Fire face the Calgary Broncos April 14 in Calgary and play their first home game April 28 at either ME Global Park in Lacombe or Great Chief Park against the Mavericks. They host the Cowboys, May 5.