Saskatoon high school loses senior football team
Every year, students from Bedford Road Collegiate, one of Saskatoon's oldest high schools, walk the "Red Mile" to Gordie Howe Bowl for the school's first senior football game of the season.
This year, the long-standing tradition was a bit different. For the first time in more than 50 years, students walked the "The Golden Red Mile" after the Bedford Road Redmen joined the Mount Royal Mustangs, a rival from just down the street.
It's because the senior football team only has six or seven players--not nearly enough to field a team.
"I didn't really like the fact that, well, we had to cheer for a different team, but it was still fun to be able to go there and cheer for a team anyway," said Courtney Neufeld, a grade nine student at Bedford Road.
"It's sad to see that a school loses its football team and has to combine with its rivalry," said Amanda Sather, who was in grade 9 when the Redmen won the 1998 provincial championships for the first time in 30 years.
Dustin Maffin played on that team, and remembers how exciting it was not only for the team, but for the Bedford Road community as a whole.
"I think I passed a couple classes because I was on the football team," Maffin said with a laugh.
"The teachers understood how successful the team was doing."
Maffin said while Bedford was never necessarily known as an athletic school, and the senior football team had its fair share of droughts, football culture--and the traditions that accompanied it--is ingrained in the school.
"Bedford Road Redmen was synonymous with high school football in Saskatoon," said Kelly Bowers, who coached the team on and off starting in 1974, including the 1998 Provincial Championship Team.
"It's a sad day for alumni at Bedford Road, and there's a lot of Bedford alumni in Saskatoon."
The school's football program started to flounder as Bedford Road's student population dropped nearly 50 percent in the last 10 years. The team had recently been playing in the 3A division as a result.
"I think having five schools on the west side has really hurt the schools that were big when I was in high school," said Sather.
However, Bowers optimistically pointed out that Bedford does have a junior football team, and hopes those players will help resurrect a senior football team down the road.