The Strathmore High School Spartans football team is coming off of an incredible season where they were the Southern Alberta champions and made their first-ever provincials appearance. With main camp starting on August 16 and the season beginning at the end of the month, Head Coach Danny Warrack has been busy getting the team ready to try and build off of last year's success.

While building from last year is definitely a big focus, Warrack also explained they can't head into this year simply expecting success. You need to continue working hard to get the results you hope for.

"I don't want to say we're forgetting about last year, but we kind of are. What's done is done, the guys that are returning that were a part of that team, I think they learned some valuable lessons," he said.

The lessons learned last year have definitely stuck not just with the returning players, but even new players who have seen how the veterans approach the season. For example, the Spartans last season had a rough start at 1-3, but went on a second-half tear en route to provincials, which showed the value of sticking with the program and continuing to work hard. As for the provincial match itself, the Spartans found themselves overmatched, so the team saw firsthand what it would take to get the ultimate prize.  

"Working hard and being dedicated makes a big difference in this town. We ain't Okotoks, we ain't Cochrane, we don't quite have their resources. We gotta work harder than our competition, right?"

The Spartans will face tougher competition this year too, as they are moving up to Tier 2 due to the growing school population. However, Warrack believes the team has what it takes to continue winning, even at a higher level of play. Beyond the team entering the season with confidence and the belief they can hang with any team, Warrack added the offseason work many players put in has been fantastic.

"A lot of these guys that are returning — a good chunk of them are going into grade 11 — and I've been really impressed with that group. They really took the offseason training serious, probably more than any other group. There's a real good group in grade 12 too, but I was impressed with the younger players that are returning, how much they improved." 

There will be many familiar faces returning this year, such as quarterback Dylan Elliott, who Warrack expects will excel in his second year commanding the offense. Throw in a returning core of receivers with CJ Nelson, Bodey Pettifer, Gage Robison, and Logan Oryschak, and you have the making of an offense that could do some serious damage. However, no offense works without a solid offensive line, and Warrack is happy to have returning players David Marleau, Hunter Corbin, and Rein Idnurm anchor the line while the two other guard positions will be occupied by younger players battling it out for playing time.

Last year the defense was the strength of the team, and the returning linebacker core of Ashtin Reid, Porter Zaugg, and Taehyeon Park should continue to have the defense operating at a high level.

The Spartans season starts on August 26 in Medicine Hat, and their first home game will be September 1 at 5:00 p.m. Warrack encourages the home crowd to come out in full force for the home opener to cheer on the team and take part in what should hopefully be another great season for Strathmore. With other huge games like a showdown against Chestermere on September 26, this season should be full of high energy games and plenty of exciting highlights.

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