From Day 1, one of the goals of Estevan’s new football programs was to have the minor football teams work hand-in-hand with the high school Elecs to develop players new to the sport.
That effort is clearly paying off.
2011 was a year of firsts for the Elecs in terms of advancing grads to the next level, and the program is feeding off that success this spring.
Last month, lineman Chris Strongeagle became the second Estevan player ever, after Zach Rensby last year, to make the Regina Rams.
Last week, Strongeagle and defensive end/jack-of-all-trades Stefan Seipp were named to the South roster for the prestigious Senior Bowl, which is a showcase of the best graduating players in the province.
The only other player to do that was Michael Bittman last year. He also made the Regina Thunder, something Seipp is hoping to do this year.
The accomplishments of these two young men give even more legitimacy to the ECS program, showing that last year’s milestones weren’t just a one-off thing.
It shows that blazing a trail and reaching new heights inspires others to do the same.
Most of all, it confirms that Penta Completions Estevan Minor Football is on the right track in preparing players for a mostly seamless transition to the high school game.
Only four years after being started by players, parents and coaches who were appalled that there was no football in Estevan, our programs are sending players into situations where they are competing against all of Saskatchewan, and they are excelling.
Who would have guessed that Edwin Encarnacion would be swinging the hottest stick on the Toronto Blue Jays these days and that Jose Bautista would be under the Mendoza line?
It’s very early — far too early to draw any real conclusions — but the Jays have been surprisingly poor at the plate in the first month of the season, at times bordering on pathetic.
There were some question marks among the positional players coming into the season, and so far, almost all of them have struggled.
Bautista is certainly the poster boy for the slow start at the plate, hitting .181 with just three home runs and, probably the most shocking stat of them all, a .313 slugging percentage.
Catcher J.P. Arencibia is also making Mendoza look good and cleanup hitter Adam Lind — really, has that ship not sailed already? — is hitting .213.
When you only have three guys hitting over .250 (Encarnacion, Thames and Lawrie), you have a problem.
Pitching was the biggest concern in spring training and hasn’t been an issue at all, at least in the rotation.
Kyle Drabek, the centrepiece of the Roy Halladay trade, has been a revelation in his five starts. You could actually make an argument that he’s been the Jays’ best starter so far.
The rotation is still pretty thin, but if Drabek and Henderson Alvarez can get through six innings on a regular basis, it could go a long way toward the Jays winning a few more games than they did last year.
Now to work on closing out games. Again.
Josh Lewis can be reached by phone at 634-2654, by e-mail at spo...@estevanmercury.ca, on Twitter at twitter.com/joshlewis306 or on his Bruins blog at estevanmercury.ca/bruinsbanter. How many of you knew who Jay Beagle was before he started getting more ice time than Alex Ovechkin?