The Chestermere Chiefs Bantam Football team capped off an incredible first season by winning the division three city championship Nov 3.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Bantam Chiefs Head Coach Chris Bailey.
“[An] outstanding success for sure,” he said.
After a hard-fought semi-final against the Calgary Rebels on Oct. 27, the Chiefs handily took the championship 40-16 against the Calgary Colts.
“That was a fantastic game,” said Bailey of the semi-final.
Compared with the championship game, which Bailey described as a, “good all-around effort,” the semi-final was hard fought coming down to the final plays before the Chiefs earned the win.
“We went down early, and our kids didn’t give up,” said Bailey, “we battled back.”
With the Rebels in the lead, the Chiefs’ defense stopped the Rebels on the goal line.
“We turned it around and ended up marching the ball all the way down to score a touchdown to get close,” said Bailey.
An onside kick saw the Chiefs keep possession of the ball.
“With a minute left we ended up kicking the winning field goal to take the lead,” he said, “it was fantastic, a great game.”
The confidence from that win carried through to the championship game, which was a good thing since this being their first season, the Bantam Chiefs had no institutional memory to draw from as they prepared for their championship run.
“We had started from scratch, we didn’t have jerseys we didn’t even have a real field to practice on,” said Bailey.
“We’ve come a long way since then,” he said of the team’s successful season.
In August when the team started to practice together, there were seven kids who had never played football before.
Knowing that they were both the newest and smallest team in the league, Bailey’s was focus was on the players and not the team’s record.
From the start, the team’s mandate was to ensure that everyone on the team would get to play during the regular season.
“We rotated everybody in all season long,” said Bailey.
He believes theirs was the only team committed to making sure everyone on the teamed had a chance to hit the field during the season.
From the coaches right down to the players, the Chiefs had a successful season on and off the scoreboard.
Bailey said that from starting the year as a group of, in many cases, strangers to ending as a tight knit team, the kids who made up the Bantam Chiefs had a lot of fun and became really close friends.
“There’s no way to tangible measure their fun,” he said, “[but] you could see it.”
“You could see that by the participation and going out there every day, how they interacted with each other that they really bonded as a team,” said Bailey.
As far as their winning record, Bailey thinks that the schedule helped them out.
In his estimation, out of the 12 teams in the league, there are four that are consistently powerhouse teams year after year.
“And we seemed to have the luck of the draw to play those teams early in the season,” he said.
“We ended up losing quite heavily our first couple games,” said Bailey.
However, in playing the top teams in the league early on, the brand-new Bantam Chiefs learned to compete at that level.
“As the season went on, we became closer and closer and closer,” said Bailey.
The Chiefs earned their first win, 2-0, on a safety but by the end of the season they were winning games 17-0.
“It was a pretty good learning curve for sure,” said Bailey.
When they started the season, Bailey was just happy they had a team.
“We were just happy to have a seat at the table and be in the league,” he said.
“And the next thing you know by the end of the season we’re actually fighting for a championship and winning,” said Bailey, “it’s unbelievable.”
The Pee Wee Chestermere Chiefs ended an injury plagued season with a tough loss in the first round of the playoffs to the eventual city champion Stampeders.
Chestermere Community Football President Alan Speidel wrote that despite being dogged by injuries all year the Pee Wee Chiefs, “played their hearts out and learned a lot throughout the season.”
“The young squad made a lot of progress over the course of the season,” said Speidel.
“Coach Theo Price and his coaching staff were proud of the effort put forth all season by the young club and commend the kids on never giving up.”
The Pee Wee Chiefs are looking forward to another successful season next year with the return of this year’s rookie line and other first year players.
Monday Night Lights
Although no official scores are kept for Atom Football, the Chestermere Chiefs Atom team are celebrating a winning season this year.
The Chiefs finished of their season Oct. 29 with more wins than losses.
Chestermere Community Football President Alan Speidel wrote that the highlight of the season for the club was a Monday night game played under the lights at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
“The Chiefs played their best game of the season, trouncing their opponent with 7 touchdowns and multiple interceptions,” said Speidel.
Adding to the memorable game was a tour of the Calgary Stampeder’s locker room after the game.
Speidel commended Atom Chiefs Head Coach Randy Bec and his staff who, “did a fantastic job with their young squad.”
With the seasons over for all of the Chestermere Chiefs teams, the club will be hosting their wind-up banquet on Nov. 16.
“We had the most players in our history and continue to look forward to future growth,” said Speidel of the Chestermere Chiefs best season to date.
“We look forward to seeing most of our players back next season and offer a mixed emotion congratulations/goodbye to the 15 Bantam players that head off to the Lakers next season,” he said.
For more information on the Chestermere Chiefs or to volunteer, coach or play next season, follow the team’s Facebook page or contact the club at Chestermerechiefsfootball@gmail.com.