Eight Pitbulls heading south
Pitbulls players left to right - Kaiden Banfield, Shawn Green, Kyler Banfield, Head Coach Kito Poblah, Brock Miller, Jayden Shindle(back) Colby Irwin, Lelend Gabriel, and Grayson Pratt (front). (supplied photo)
It's an incredible accomplishment to say the least.
Eight Portage Pitbulls football players will be heading to San Antonio, Texas next month to take part in the sixth annual Pigskin Classic with the first Manitoba Selects U13 and U15 teams ever built.
“We’re so very proud of the boys for making the team in its inaugural season,” says Pitbulls' board secretary, Corrine Pratt. “It’s huge because they’re coming from a small town where our program hasn’t been alive as long as most of the teams in Winnipeg where they have more kids. This has never been done before so the kids should be very excited.”
Pitbulls Kaiden Banfield, Shawn Green, Kyler Banfield, Brock Miller, Jayden Shindle and Colby Irwin were all recruited for the U15 team. Lelend Gabriel and Grayson Pratt were selected to be a part of the U13 team, even though there wasn’t a U13 team in Portage la Prairie last season. They made the trek to Charleswood, in Winnipeg to play football in the 2017 season.
“The boys made a huge impact in the exhibition match versus the South Sask Selects in Moosejaw, Sask.,” Pratt says. “Pratt and Gabriel are like the little powerhouses on offensive and defensive lines respectively. The U15 team scored three touchdowns in their match and two were from Portage Pitbulls. Irwin got one and Kyler Banfield had another. Green had a ton of yards and Miller had a sack on defense.”
It was a long process for the players to make the cut. The initial evaluation was held in early November where coaches Kito Pobla, Jason Vega, and Portage Collegiate Institute Trojans Head Coach Donald Burrell selected the top players from the pack. Once selected, boys attended practice in Winnipeg once a week for three hours, a trek made by committed parents every time, until Jan. 7 when they travelled to Saskatchewan for the exhibition match with the South Sask Selects.
“We’re holding a $500 cash prize raffle to help raise funds for the players planning to attend,” adds Pratt. “All the proceeds will go toward costs needed to get the team to San Antonio and all the gear they need. The draw will be on February 15 and you can get tickets from any player attending or at the Portage Pitbulls Facebook page.”
The next six weeks of training will focus solely on setting up the athletes for success at the tournament. Players are expected to arrive at the tournament by February 21. Practices in San Antonio begin the following day and the tournament starts Feb. 24.