Renegades, Outlaws still playing waiting game

Richard Froese
South Peace News

The High Prairie Outlaws were chasing the Grande Prairie Raiders for most of the game in Peace River Bantam Football League action Sept. 28, 2019 in High Prairie. Outlaw players R.J. Grievson [No. 10] and Korven Herr [No. 2] run after the Grande Prairie Raider, who sprints into the end zone for a touchdown.

High school and minor football 2020 seasons remain on hold for the next six weeks as restrictions continue in the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s the latest message from High Prairie Renegades’ high school and High Prairie Outlaws’ bantam teams head coach Tom Duchesneau.

“Due to the restrictions set out by Alberta Health Services and the Alberta School Boards Association, high school football has been suspended until August at the earliest,” Duches- neau says.

He posted the message June 17 on the Facebook page of High Prairie and Area Football.

The Renegades enter their sixth season in the Mighty Peace Football League [MPFL].

The Outlaws prepare for their fifth season in the Peace Country Bantam Football League [PCBFL].

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

“Our bantam team is part of a community league, which means – technically – we would be allowed to practise, although we would not have access to our changing or equipment rooms,” Duchesneau says.

He also serves as president of the High Prairie and Area Football Society.

“As a board, we have decided to follow what other teams in our bantam league are doing and postpone football operations until at least the middle of August,” he says.

“During the first week of August, we will reconvene and decide how to proceed.”

Both leagues are hopeful they will be allowed to play the regular season, which starts in September, Duches- neau said in a story in the South Peace News issue of June 10.

“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,” Duches- neau says.

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

He also admits decisions to open schools for students will also affect football.

“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.

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

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, he says.

Players are eager get back on the field. Many players continue to work out at home to stay in shape for the potential start of the training camp.

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

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