Outlaws, Renegades play waiting game

High Prairie Renegades’ player Raiden Duchesneau is tackled by a Whitecourt Cat Oct. 18, 2019 in Mighty Peace Football Conference action.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie high school and minor football teams are in a holding pattern as they wait to find out if the fall seasons will start as restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic continue.

The Renegades high school team and bantam Outlaws team are waiting for word from Football Alberta that governs amateur football.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the bantam and high school football seasons are still on hold,” says Tom Duchesneau, head coach of both the Renegades and Outlaws.

The Renegades are entering their sixth season in the Mighty Peace Football League.

The Outlaws are preparing for their fifth season in the Peace Country Bantam Football League.

The Peace River Pioneers in the MPFL and Peace River Prospectors in the PCBFL are also waiting.

“The MPFL and PCBFL are very hopeful that we will be allowed to play during our regular season, which starts in September,” says Duchesneau.

“Alberta Health Services will ultimately dictate whether there will be football this year or not.”

Football Alberta is still working with Health Minister Tyler Shandro to discuss if and how football can be played safely with the health restrictions, he says.

“Everyone is hopeful that we will be able to resume activities in mid-August,” Duchesneau says.

“However, contact sport will be one of the last activities that will be allowed.”

Duchesneau is also president of the High Prairie and Area Football Society.

“If the health risks are still too high in September for schools to open, that would mean it would still not be safe enough to subject our athletes to contact sport,” he says.

“In order for the football season to proceed in September, Football Alberta would have to receive permission from Alberta Health Services.

“Football Alberta does not want to prematurely cancel the season.

“If the season has to be pushed back, they are looking at options for a shortened season.

Football Alberta will also consider playing the regular season next spring, which would allow graduating athletes the opportunity to participate in their last year of football.

Players are eager get back on the field, the coach says.

“But we have to be mindful of the safety of the athletes and our communities,” says Duchesneau. “Once we are allowed to start, we will ensure that we do everything we can to keep everyone healthy.”

Many players continue to work out at home to stay in shape for the potential start of the training camp, to be announced.

Teams usually gear up with spring training and MPFL and PCBFL football jamborees in June.

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