The Great Football League Experiment

We didn't get around to other schools back in the sixties the way that kids do now so it was a big deal when one fall it was announced there was going to be a High School Flag Football League.

I don't know who put it together but I remember that it consisted of Maymont, Wilkie, Battleford and maybe North Battleford, it never lasted long enough for us to play North Battleford so they might not have been included. There certainly wasn't enough money back then to have equipment but we came up with a football, and everyone had to have a piece of cloth (flag) that we tucked into the top of our pants. The idea was that instead of tackling the person with the ball you grabbed his flag and when you pulled it out that was where the ball was placed for the next down.

We were all pretty excited, boys and girls ( we had our own cheerleaders) and everyone set about practicing. Because we weren't a big school pretty well everyone who wanted to play got a spot on the roster. Alvin Wylechko was our quarterback, I don't think there were tryouts, it went more like this, OK, Alvin you're quarterback, Nels you're center, Cameron you're an end and it all worked out. As I recall we had two offensive plays, for a pass it was , everybody run downfield and get in the open. For a running play it went like this fake to the one back and give the ball to the other. To confuse the other team we would change who got the ball.

On defence it wasn't quite as complicated, it was like this, when the ball was snapped get whoever has the ball. We had a couple of practices and were ready for our first test at Maymont.

Maymont had an offence that wasn't as complex as ours, they only had one running play, give the ball to Ken Prechtl.

Ken Prechtl was the fastest runner in the country, he even had his own track spikes, very impressive when you consider the best we had was blue jeans, runners and in a few instances sock feet. One of our linemen wrote Right and Left on the toes of his shoes as a joke ( the name Martin somehow rings a bell). Anyway as the game got underway, it didn't take very long to figure out what we had to do, it was simple, stop Prechtl. Now knowing what to do and actually doing it can be two different things. The bugger ran just to fast to grab that little flag, so by about the third play the plan started to develop, if you got in his way he would have to run over you and that slowed him down enough for someone to get his flag. As the game progressed the plan evolved to a more sophisticated level, instead of just getting in his way, grab him and hold him and then grab his flag and finally we arrived at, pile on and give out a bit of punishment.

They started using the same tactics and it wasn't long until one of our backs was carried from the field in a prone position. Our position selection process kicked into gear and somehow I got selected to be the new halfback. The game was nearly over and if I would have had any brains I would have shied away from getting the ball. We pulled our sneak running play, fake to Gerry McNabb and give it to the new guy. They were fooled and I made it about 10 yards when they put into motion the results of their escalating defensive prowess - all out tackle, forget the flag, get the guy and I went down under about 5 bodies. a play or two later the final whistle blew and we marched from the field victorious, it had been a magnificent start.

The second game was to be played at home and was against Wilkie. They had also played a previous game so now as seasoned veterans of "flag football" the game began. I think the referees we had must have known more about the rules, because in the course of the first three plays each team had drawn about a dozen penalties for just about everything you could think of. tackling, hitting roughing, throwing to the ground and there was probably an few undetected bites in there as well.

Unbeknownest to us we had an observer who had been watching the proceeding from the window in an upper classroom. She immediately understood that what was happening on the field bore no resemblance to the game of flag football. As the referees were trying to sort out the multitude of penalties from yet another play a figure appeared, hustling across the field and yelling "STOP THIS, STOP THIS". It was Mrs Sternig, and after a few words with a teacher from Wilkie and (we must have had someone in charge), the ball was impounded, the game was stopped and that was the end of football. it gave us something to talk about for awhile and we each felt in our hearts that the guys from "North Town" were lucky cause we would really have shown them how football was played if we just had been given the chance.

* NOTE: The world is very small place, a few years ago we obtained a new client (Ron Garnett) who does aerial photography and as we were talking he happened to mention he was from Maymont, I recalled the football experience to him and he told me he played in that game and remembered it. It turned out that Ken Prechtl was a good friend of his.