The Rosetown Royals were the only local football team to earn a home playoff date this past weekend, and they took care of business in the SHSAA quarter-final beating Shellbrook 72-34.
Royals head coach Mitch Wintonyk credited a good Aardvarks team on the other side for providing the Royals some adversity.
"We kind of had a slow start, part of that was Shellbrook is a good team, and you know we hadn't really faced any adversity so we got back on our heels to start," said Wintonyk, "But we preached all year that we have to finish the game, and we worked towards keeping that same mentality in the second half." finished the coach as the Royals showed a key trait in resiliency.
Both teams got off to a fast start in the game with a pair of scoring drives, but then Shellbrook began to pull away against their higher-seeded opponents. The visitors would build a 26-14 lead, before a Royals touchdown and subsequent onside-kick created the turning point for the Royals.
"We were battling, got the momentum, and then were able to keep it."
The playoff win was in front of a big crowd behind Rosetown Central High School.
Home field advantage always plays a factor, and for the Royals, Saturday's game was extra special as Wintonyk mentioned this was the first home provincial game in Rosetown since 2014.
"The town was pretty excited for it. I think people made a point of coming out. Not easy to get to the point where you are hosting quarter-final games."
Extra volunteers added to the crowd. Wintonyk called in a few favours to keep the parents off the sidelines working, and in the stands cheering.
"Try to give our parents a chance to watch the last home game. They have done a lot throughout the year. It was good to let them enjoy it rather than having to work."
With the first round firmly behind them, the Royals focused has shifted to the semi-finals. They will be facing a familiar squad that Wintonyk has a ton of respect for.
"We head to Clavet on Saturday. We know it's going to be a tough test. They were in our league the previous two years." shared an excited Wintonyk. "I will give Clavet a lot of credit, they have made our program better, we have had some good battles with them. They have been back-to-back provincial finalists, won one of them."
Rosetown and Clavet met in the league final just last year in a game that Wintonyk remembers well.
"Just couldn't finish the second half. We were up at halftime and just couldn't finish." said the hungry coach.
Rosetown's coach feels that game has gone a long way to the Royals success in 2023, evidenced by Saturday's effort against Shellbrook.
"We kind of preached that all year, and saw it pay off in the quarter-final."
Wintonyk knows the Royals needs a complete-team-effort against Clavet to avoid a similar fate. The semi-final scenario adds more pressure, but Wintonyk is doing his best to make sure his team stays in the moment and uses it as motivation.
"Not everyone gets this opportunity to play in a provincial semi-final. We are excited about it, and we are just going to put our best effort in and see what happens." Wintonyk emphasized. "Sometimes you play the best game of your life, and it might not work out your way. But if you do play the best game of your life, good things should happen. That's our goal."
Saturday's kickoff in Clavet goes at 1:00 PM.