© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Peacock's Nathan Fall breaks into open field against the Yorkton Raiders in last season's city final.
Every high school football team starts the season with question marks, but no team in the city has certainties like the Peacock Tornadoes.
The defending Moose Jaw High School Football League champions have their fair share of uncertainty, but in some key positions the Tornadoes are bringing back some unquestionable talent.
“Last year we were fairly green in that area, but this year we are a little more experienced at the skill positions,” said Tornadoes head coach Blake Buettner.
The Tornadoes return Sawyer Buettner at quarterback, receiver Levi Paul and running back Nathan Fall. All three led the league in a key offensive category.
Buettner led the league in passing as he completed 71 of 109 passes for 1,150 yards. Paul also led the league as he hauled in 27 passes for 556 yards. Fall only played three regular season games last year, but still managed to rush for 765 yards on 91 carries. He also scored a dozen touchdowns to lead the league in scoring.
“Nathan is doing good. He’s been really focused and he’s been working hard,” said Buettner.
“Skill position wise on offence we’re doing okay. We’re missing (Dalton) Deets and (Ty) Nordick off of our line, so we’re missing some size there.”
Losing Nordick and Deets to graduation will hurt the offensive line, but Buettner is happy with the young players that are fighting for a spot on the lines.
“We have some really good young guys,” said Buettner. “Actually Maguire Abell is in Grade 9 and he looks like he’s going to play for us. We put him in a starting position and he’s done well.
“We have a Grade 12 centre as an anchor and the rest are all developing. Then we have some of our defensive guys and our older guys filling in until these young guys develop.”
Linebacker Spencer Barrett played on the offensive line last year and will be a strong two-way player to start the season once again.
As if having Fall, Paul and Buettner back weren’t enough, the Tornadoes will also boast some more veterans at skilled positions like slotback Kyle Arndt, wide receiver Lane Bossence and fullback Blake Olson.
That depth and experience in key spots is an asset that most of the other teams in the league won’t have.
The Tornadoes will open the season Friday afternoon in Estevan. To help get ready they played went to a jamboree in Saskatoon Friday. They played three controlled scrimmage against Tommy Douglas, Bethlehem and Bishop Mahoney.
“It was good. We got our starter group in and our back-up kids in. It was a good experience,” said Buettner.
The Tornadoes have won five league titles in seven years and they built that run on the backs of a traditionally stingy and physical defence.
Ryley Ludwar’s twin brother Keegan has joined the Tornadoes this season and Buettner was pleased with what both brought to the table.
“He made quite a few tackles (Friday). He last played in bantam and has been playing hockey a lot in the last couple of years and he decided to try football again,” said Buettner. “They both player rush end and they both made quite a few tackles, but for a kid who hasn’t played football for awhile it was good.”