HUMBOLDT — Humboldt Collegiate Institute football head coach Cory Popoff is pleased with how this season’s Mohawks played as a team.
“It is great to see a team act like a team and that’s definitely who we are,” he said. “We don’t put any one person in front of another and it showed definitely in every game we played this season.”
The veteran coach emphasized that the way the team members played for each other is one of the most important things you want high school athletes to achieve. Popoff said the players understood it was not about them, but rather the team.
The Mohawks saw their season come to an end with a 55-14 loss to Melfort and Unit Comprehensive Collegiate on Saturday in the provincial quarterfinals.
“We came up against a highly-skilled team with a bit more size, especially on the offensive line and the defensive line,” Popoff said. “Field conditions certainly permitted a run game and that’s what they were really, really good at.”
The field was slippery. There was snow on the ground and the temperature was below zero. However, the Mohawks did not back down from the Comets.
“I truly believe our team is very scrappy,” Popoff said. “The don’t give up on a play. Even though there was a person running for a touchdown, you never saw them give up on a play.
“Even execution wise, everyone did their jobs that we coached them to do – just we didn’t win a lot of one-on-one battles with Melfort and the score shows it.”
Popoff said he was thankful for the HCI coaches and players.
“Our coaches are very skilled and our players certainly bought into the game plan,” Popoff said.
It was the last game with the Mohawks, who were 4-2 in the regular season, for around 10 Grade 12 players.
“I think they shared a special bond together and it showed,” their head coach said. “I think that this team has been through thick and thin, especially with those Grade 12s. They’ve seen many good times and they have also seen some very, very bad times in terms of games and in terms of people we’ve lost along the way.”
During this Mohawks’ season, several young players were asked to contribute and tried to step into roles. That could bode well for next fall.
“We’ll be back at the drawing board next year,” Popoff said. “We look forward to a new season. We’ll see how it plays out in the fall.”