Royals take big steps in Season 2
Our Lady of Mount PLeasant running back Aidan Fenton rushes the ball during their quarter-final game against the Breton Cougars on Saturday. Breton won 80-22. Supplied
When any athletic program starts up, the mantra usually revolves around keeping expectations reasonable and taking baby steps.
The Our Lady of Mount Pleasant Royals six-man high school football league team took a giant leap forward in their second season of existence, making it to provincials.
Their run came to an end on Saturday in the provincial quarter-final, falling 80-22 to the No. 2 ranked Breton Cougars. For the Royals, however, the score was not important, it was about developing their program.
“In September our goal was to win enough games to make sure that we get into the provincial playoff race,” said head coach Joe Kucy. “That’s a huge step to get there.”
Quinten Twomey, Aiden Fenton and Mason Kucy all scored touchdowns for the Royals. The club was just overmatched by a veteran squad from Breton, boasting one of the top Grade 12 quarterback prospects in the province in Noah Gooderham.
“He’s an excellent athlete and he was making great throws,” said Kucy, noting Gooderham’s father is the Cougars’ offensive coordinator and his skill set was obvious. “A quarterback with that ability of being a great athlete and being able to throw a ball that well … the kids were like ‘Wow, that’s the best quarterback we’ve seen all year.’”
The Royals finished with four wins on the season, improving their total by two over their inaugural campaign and held onto a top 10 Football Alberta ranking for most of the year, finishing at No. 8.
The Royals are graduating five of their 19 players, meaning there is the potential for 14 players to return from this team, including quarterback Will Knopf. Kucy also says there are a number of players set to make the jump from the bantam minor football programs and they will likely pick up a few other players as well. Some of those players got the opportunity to play on Saturday as they auditioned for their new roles.
“It’s good to put some of our kids in different places where we thought they could help us,” said Kucy. “It’s great to see an initial showing of them already.”
As the program continues to develop, they are looking at ways to expand their roster, though they are maxed out at 19 for travel. There is the potential to build a developmental roster that will be larger for home games and for practice and help them fill in holes when they lose players to injury as every team inevitably does.
The Royals will have their work cut out for them in replacing graduating seniors Twomey, Fenton, Nikolas Miles, Carson Rodin and Dawson Twitchell. The hole created by Twomey at running back and linebacker will be particularly difficult to plug as the team’s lone league all-star from last season and a likely all-star this season.
“Two of our three touchdowns on the weekend were by Grade 12s. That shows you how important they are to helping the team move along with their leadership, and just their physical size helps,” said Kucy.