Selects football team headed to Texas for tournament

Matthew Gourlie
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Bennett Stusek, left, and Payton Chow both leap to catch a ball during a drill Saturday at a South Sask. Selects football practice at YaraCentre.

Zeljko Stefanovic admits that the idea of forming a football team in the dead of winter to travel to take on some teams in Texas was a little out there.

However, now that the South Sask. Selects are a reality, their head coach is pretty excited about the possibilities in store for the province’s first 12-and-under select football team.

“I talked to Len (Antonini) who’s in charge of Regina Minor Football and I asked him what he thought of the idea and he thought I was crazy, but he said he thought I would have a lot of interest,” said Stefanovic who contacted minor football leagues and teams across the province to further gauge interest.

“Lo and behold we had 65-70 kids show up at our first tryout.”

From that tryout the 31 players who will play for the South Sask. Selects were chosen. The team features players from a dozen communities in southern Saskatchewan.

On Feb. 9-10 they will take part in the Red Raiders’ International Bowl in San Antonio, Texas — a high-end football tournament that will feature some top teams from Texas, plus teams from Mexico.

“The coaches down there are really excited about having us down,” said Stefanovic. “We’re expecting the competition to pretty stiff.”

The Stefanovics have taken their three sons — Mike, Matt and Ryan — to camps in the U.S. for the past six years. That has exposed them to the level of play south of the border and the opportunities available to improve.

When all three were selected to attend the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl in Dallas last year the idea of forming a high level team began.

“I looked at it and thought ‘we can compete,’” said Stefanovic who is an assistant coach for the Vanier Vikings. “I think we’ll be able to compete, but they do things at a whole other level — they’re practicing three or four times a week right now to prepare for the tournament.”

The Moose Jaw minor football league is represented by eight players: running back Braylen Breton, receiver Payton Chow, defensive back Houston Ramage, linebacker Brant Schwengler, defensive linemen Dalton Hansen, Danton Hartman and Brodan Rempel along with quarterback/slotback Ryan Stefanovic.

Rempel is from Caronport and the team also has players representing Assiniboia, Regina, Pilot Butte, Fort Qu’Appelle, Carlyle, Wymark, Springside, Swift Current, Weyburn and Wood Mountain in addition to the Moose Jaw players.

Mike Stefanovic, who plays for the Univ. of Regina Rams, is helping coach the team.

They practiced indoors at the YaraCentre this weekend as they try to come together as a team and adapt to four-down football.

“It would be impossible (without the facility),” said Stefanovic who said adapting to using 11 players hasn’t been too difficult defensively, but on the offensive side of the ball it’s been a little more challenging.

“Having limited motion has been tough, but other than that ... They’re young guys, they’re just sponges,” he said.

The team is officially considered a 12-and-under team in the tournament, but because the ages are based on the American school calendar, they actually had six 13-year-olds who are eligible to play.

They are guaranteed two games in San Antonio and don’t know yet who they will face.

Organizations: Offense-Defense All-American Bowl

Geographic location: San Antonio, Texas, Southern Saskatchewan, Moose Jaw Mexico U.S. Dallas Caronport Assiniboia Pilot Butte Swift Current Wood Mountain

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Recent comments

  • Stu Griffin
    April 24, 2013 - 15:16

    Wade, sorry I'm late getting back to you on this as I just came across it now. I think you misunderstood what I was saying. First off, I'm glad things went well and the kids enjoyed it but I wasn't sure if this was thru Football Sask or what it was but just concerned all the bases were covered with respect to insurance and what not. I'll also suggest that I had kids who've played football in minor league as well as high school so I would never deprive a youngster of playing football. I know that in states like Texas, California and Florida that football is much different than up here. I guess perhaps I should have considered insurance and such was taken care of but remember in the U.S. a broken leg or an injury such as that ''is'' incredibly expensive and that's ALL I was getting at. Glad to hear it all went well thou!....Stu

  • Curious
    February 06, 2013 - 20:56

    Is there a team web site to follow...I'm interested in knowing more about your team : )

  • Shelli
    January 23, 2013 - 14:06

    This a reply to Stu Griffin. Insurance concerns have been met and dealt with. I AM sending my son down there and I am incredibly proud of my son and the other boys for all the effort and time they have put in to be ready for this tournament. This is an amazing opportunity for these boys who love the great game of football. GO SELECTS.

  • Stu Griffin
    January 22, 2013 - 14:01

    Hopefully they'll be carrying extensive medical insurance for these kids because they might need it. Football down there is an all together different ball game than here so I don't know about this deal. I'd be damned if I would send my kid!

    • Dad
      January 29, 2013 - 22:45

      My son is also on the team. Stu, you should come out and watch them practice this weekend at the Moose Jaw Field House (12:00 and 3:00 start times) . This team is big, talented and well coached. I think the Americans may have all they can handle.

    • wade jensen
      February 14, 2013 - 13:56

      We all had insurance and yes it is a different game down there. We played 2 games one against a team of elite kids from all over Texas and and Louisianna. We lost 58-0 and suffered one injury but were the only team in the tournament that didn't quit when playing this team. The other teams quit after 3 quarters. The next game was against the host team also elite and we lost 22-6 with one injury. This being said I am sorry Stu that you would not give your child such an amazing opportunity to play and learn a sport these boys LOVE!!!!