WAKAW — For only the fifth time in the Can Am Bowl’s 23-year history, an all-star Canadian team with players from Saskatchewan and Alberta defeated an all-star American team.
This year’s edition of the international six-man football game, played by those that just graduated Grade 12, was held in Wakaw on July 6. Team Canada won 40-28.
Darryl Dickson, Team Canada’s coach, said the players’ drive to win was on their minds as victory became apparent.
“We set out to turn that four into five. I think that was the piece that was going through everyone’s minds was the fact that we set the goal that we were going to win this game, flat out,” he said. “We're going to make this a fifth win for Canada and the kids achieved that.”
There were 22 players on the team. Local players were Jack Bellefontaine and Brandon Hilkewick from Wakaw, Ian Koob from Viscount, Tyrell Nicklen and Chase Kozun from Carrot River, and Cole Smith from Middle Lake.
It was Wakaw’s Hilkewich that scored Canada’s first touchdown, with 6:50 left on the clock in the first quarter. That was followed by a convert by Middle Lake’s Smith. The Americans then tied the game with thier down touchdown and convert with 1:46 left on the clock
In the second quarter, the Americans scored a touchdown. Canada’s Morgan Hildebrant then evened the score with his own touchdown with 40 seconds to spare.
With seven minutes left in the third quarter, Thomas Neudorf of the Canadian team scored a touchdown. The Americans answered with a touchdown and a convert.
Canada’s Sam Gogol scored a touchdown at the 10:39 mark in the fourth quarter. The Americans then responded with a touchdown at the 4:20 mark, placing them two points ahead. Then Smith scored a touchdown with 1:39 left on the clock.
Dickson said in those last two minutes, he knew his team could pass and get the win.
“We had great route runners, we had a good ball placement with our guys, we can run if we have to,” he said. “I knew offensively can move the ball when we needed to and defensively I knew it was just a matter of time we come up with a good stop and finish it out for us.”
Neudorf then secured the victory with a touchdown with 56 seconds left, bolstered with a convert by Smith.
Dickson said the players competed so well as a team, adding that there was plenty of talent in stock, as well as some players with strong characters.
“We were looking to take it 20, but we took 22 because some kids couldn’t be denied.”
The last time Canada won a game was in 2009 in Carrot River. They won 17-16.