Heading into the final week of regular season play, nothing is cast in stone in terms of the top four teams in the SDSSAA Senior Boys Football League.
A topsy-turvy schedule, to date, became even more intriguing as the St Benedict Bears flashed signs of the team that most had expected at the beginning of September, downing the St Charles College Cardinals 26-14 last Friday and leaving both teams sitting at 3-1, the same record as the Lo-Ellen Park Knights.
The Knights, who surprised St Ben's 12-7 back in week two, have one game remaining against St Charles, with the stakes relatively high as coach J.J. McKnight and company are staring at a final finish of anywhere from first to fourth place, depending on the outcome of the match-up with the Cards.
Despite dropping their first two games of the year, the Lively Hawks could still leap-frog Lo-Ellen and slide into third place, after blanking the Knights 8-0 two weeks ago.
It all adds up to at least a few more key battles, where the final result is anything but a given.
That trend, which started in earnest with the Lo-Ellen victory over St Benedict in week two, was taken to another level when the winless Hawks (at the time) disposed of the unbeaten Knights, in a contest that featured a 1-0 score at the half (Ian Carter single on a field goal attempt that drifted wide) and required a game-ending goal line stand by the two-time defending champs from Lively to finally settle matters.
In between, Tyler Bell accounted for the only major of the game, hauling in a 37 yard pass from QB Bennett Sobiera. "The big emphasis this week was getting our guys on defence to understand their assignments," noted head coach Reg Bonin.
"We've had a lot of moving pieces, so trying to get the guys to know where they need to be on a consistent basis was a key for us as coaches." The Hawks evened their season record at 2-2 on Thurday in Val Caron, beating the Confederation Chargers 28-7, with Tyler Bell (2), Ian Carter and Victor Paajanen (110 yard return on a missed FG) accounting for the Lively scores.
A 30 yard interception return by Tanner McCosham on the second play from scrimmage accounted for the only points for Confederation, who saw their record fall to 1-3, with a final encounter with St Benedict looming later this week.
As for the Bears, first place is now within range after quarterback Adam Rocha rushed for a pair of touchdowns and connected with receiver Zack Primeau on another in the St Benedict triumph over St Charles on Friday.
Austin Mader added a pick-six for the winners, with Ethan Teeter and Mbuyi N'Galamulume countering for the Cards. Should St Benedict defeat Confederation, as expected, and St Charles beat Lo-Ellen, also on Friday, the Bears would claim top spot in the standings by virtue of their win in the head to head match-up with the Cardinals.
St Charles had run their season opening streak to three wins one week earlier, recording a 15-0 whitewashing of the Chargers as Galalumule and Teeter both reached the end zone, and Keegan Esquimaux and Aidan Teeter registered key interceptions in the hard hitting affair.
In junior boys action last week, the Lo-Ellen Park Knights edged the St Benedict Bears 19-16, with Liam Conlin, Connor Craftchick and Adam Pagan putting six points up on the board apiece, with Brandon Salem doing the same, twice, for the Bears.