On a day when The Huddle TV Show held court on the concourse of Investors Group Field, the 2013 Red River Cup was the star.
From players such as Ryan Crowe of North Saskatchewan and Manny Lopez of Team B.C. to Saskatchewan parents such as Dawn Kobayashi (mother of Saskatchewan South centre Bowen Pisula) and Tom Christianson (father of Saskatchewan North’s Dalton Christianson), praise for the Fourth Red River Cup was overwhelming.
“This is the best tournament we’ve ever been to, it’s just great,” said Kobayashi, who is also the chairman of volunteers for the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina. “It’s so well organized and the players are being treated so well. The hotel is treating the kids so well, they’re gaining weight. It’s a great hotel and this stadium is amazing — and soon we’ll have one of these in Regina. It’s just been a great week.”
As great as the tournament has been, however, there are always worries. After all, somebody must dislike something.
In order to find some critics, we tracked down Football Manitoba’s version of Statler and Waldorf, the two old dudes from The Muppet Show. Football Manitoba president Brian Marks and Winnipeg High School Football League commissioner Rick Henkewich (also a Football Manitoba board member) are two of the crustiest old football coaches in the province. There had to be something they didn’t like.
We found out in a hurry. Here’s Statler and Waldorf’s 2013 Red River Cup Top 10 list.
(1) Statler: Danny Harris, No. 3 (cornerback) with Team Winnipeg East is the epitome of football in this province. He’s the smallest kid in the tournament (about 4-foot-8) and he has the biggest heart.
(2) Waldorf: I love the seats in the press box at Investors Group Field. I can’t understand how people (as in, reporters) who don’t have to pay anything to go to the games, have a luxurious lounge to hang out in and have access to the players after the game complain about where they sit. These are great seats.
(3) Statler: I love all the people who drove in from Saskatchewan. Thanks so much for coming. You’re the best. And we don’t even care that you can’t play the banjo… but we are jealous of your Roughriders.
(4) Waldorf: I love the passing we’ve seen. There have been some spectacular grabs and great play calling. I watch CFL games where the passing isn’t as good as it’s been this week. Those coaches in Montreal should be here taking notes.
(5) Statler: The coaching staffs on every team have been sensational, but the two Manitoba coaching staffs have shown us the next generation of great coaches in the province. And a special shout out to Jamie Peters and his staff who have done wonders with a short roster. Sometimes you learn more about people who do more with less and we’ve learned a lot of good things about Winnipeg East’s coaching staff.
(6) Waldorf: There is something we’ve learned in this tournament that is somewhat disconcerting. We have learned that after turnovers, there are some offensive guys who tackle better than the defensive guys.
(7) Statler: We love The Huddle TV. We also loved that Mr. Buchko, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers president, wanted so badly to be on the show that he walked into the Teague Sherman interview. Mr. Buchko has an open invitation to appear on the show any time he wants and he’s even welcome to take a seat.
(8) Waldorf: Kudos to the Football Manitoba staff. They have worked incredibly hard to put on a great event. And where else can you get NFL jerseys for $5? Oh, and fashion dos and don’ts: never wear orange to a gold medal final.
(9) Statler: Wednesday night was a beautiful night. Investors Group Field has ambience. I know that’s three syllables but it really does have ambience. Investors Group Field at dusk is about the coolest place you can possibly be.
(10) Waldorf: We didn’t even notice the officiating and isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be? Those guys at the CFL office in Toronto should be here taking notes.
This has been one of the great football events in this province. Even Statler and Waldorf like it.