Sturgeon Spirits Stage Dramatic Comeback to Win Season Opener in Miles Conference Debut

Above: Adam Dahoy (9) and Dusty Campbell (88). – Submitted Photo

submitted by  Chad Hill, Sturgeon Composite High School Social Studies Department – Head Football Coach

The Spirits season has begun with much adversity. Starting QB and team captain Austin Panchyshyn was lost in pre-season to a broken leg, which required surgery. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely. After a 42-27 pre-season come-from-behind victory in Cold Lake vs. the Royals, the Spirits were set to start their regular season. And what a start it was.

The Metro Edmonton Athletics Association high school football season started on Thursday, September 7th, with the 2022 Division 3 champion Sturgeon Spirits moving up to the Division 2 (Miles Conference) and taking on the St. Francis Xavier Rams. It was a defensive masterpiece displayed by both teams. Sturgeon nursed a 1-0 lead going into the 2nd half, but SFX capitalized on a Sturgeon fumble to set up 1st and goal and two plays later, they hit paydirt to take a 7-1 lead. That score stood 2 minutes remained in the game.

Defensive standouts Julien Ouellette and Kolten Stepanick both made game-saving tackles on SFX ball carriers, and Sturgeon survived another SFX 1 st & goal. The Sturgeon offense took the field at their own 27-yard line thanks to 25 yards in undisciplined fouls that saw one Ram ejected. From their, the Sturgeon offense finally found their stride as they took 7 plays to go down the field and score. QB Dustin Campbell (playing in place of injured starter Austin Panchyshyn (broken leg) hit Gr. 11 rookie Tanner McBride for a 27 yard TD strike with 33 seconds remaining. The score was tied at 7-7.

And now the part of the story that couldn’t be scripted any better than reality. To kick the winning point, Gavin Evans took the field. Evans was recruited a day earlier, and it was unclear if he would be even allowed to play in the season opener. Sturgeon’s top two kickers are on the injured reserve. Evans nailed the extra point like he had been kicking football his entire life. What a start for a student-athlete who had been on the tram for less than 24 hours. Sturgeon wins 8-7 for their first Miles Conference victory.

Next up is a Friday evening matchup vs the O’Leary Spartans at 5pm at Olexiuk Field in St. Albert.

Julien Ouellete – photo courtesy Chase Studios.


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