Aaron Schulze – northeastNOW
The goal for Humboldt Collegiate Institute’s (HCI) football team every year is to have a successful season, and so far, so good.
After an undefeated season, most recently a semi-final playoff win against North Battleford JP II, the Mohawks see themselves hosting the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association (SHSAA) 3A Nine-man Provincial Championship.
While the championship will be decided on Saturday, Nov. 6, the HCI Mohawks will play for more than a title.
They’ll be playing for their football coach and brothers.
HCI’s head coach Tyler Bieber and former player Brody Hinz lost their lives, while fellow former player Morgan Gobeil still recovers in the hospital after the Humboldt Broncos bus crash in April 2018.
Tom Schwinghamer, assistant coach and defensive coordinator for HCI, told northeastNOW there’s not a day or practice that goes by where any of their names don’t get mentioned.
“We speak of dedicating seasons to people and they’re with us,” Schwinghamer said. “At our games and practices, we speak of them a lot. Obviously, it’s hard to replace a coach. Tyler was a very committed individual, he loved the team, the game, the school, and the boys really cared deeply for him.
“I think we’re drawing inspiration from the memory of those people that we’ve lost or are having a challenging time right now.”
Despite dealing with adversity before the season even began, the feeling early for HCI was this could be a special year, as Schwinghamer acknowledged how committed the players were in the offseason.
“They’re just a great group of kids,” Schwinghamer said. “They’ll do anything for you. They’re very coachable, knowledgeable, and love to play football.”
All the experiences gained from their challenges faced on and off the gridiron will be crucial for HCI’s biggest challenge for the championship game: the reigning 3A nine-man provincial champion Lumsden Devils.
Schwinghamer said HCI began looking at tapes of Lumsden playing this week and noted the Devils will be a tough match-up with their size and returning players. Although don’t expect the Mohawks to be afraid of the moment.
“It’s been important to us,” Schwinghamer said. “Getting to this championship final is a big step for our program, a big step in everyone moving forward and having something else to strive for other than just a trophy at the end of the season.”
The HCI Mohawks will host 3A nine-man Football Provincial Championship against the Lumsden Devils on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 1 pm.
On Twitter: @SchulzePANow