Saturday, 6 July 2019

Perfection for Valkyries at 9-0, Blitz fall in exhibition clash

Alex Eyolfson (#15) smiles after making a touchdown reception.
    Alex Eyolfson hoped the good times would never end.
    The fourth-year quarterback was star attraction for the Saskatoon Valkyries on Saturday afternoon at Saskatoon Minor Football Field as they capped a perfect season with a 9-0 overall record.
    Eyolfson completed 11-of-20 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns and had no interceptions in a 39-12 exhibition victory over the Montreal Blitz. She also had a touchdown reception on a quarterback throwback gadget play to go along with her passing efforts.
    “It was fun,” said Eyolfson. “I was throwing the ball lots, and I got a touchdown and that was fun.”
    The 21-year-old wanted to make good on the trick play after failing to finish it during the Valkyries 25-3 victory over the host Regina Riot in the WWCFL title game on June 29 at Mosaic Stadium.
Alex Eyolfson threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday.
    On the gadget play in question, Eyolfson hands the ball off to a running back, who gives it to slotback Reed Thorstad for a reverse handoff. Thorstad is the Valkyries other talented quarterback.
    When Thorstad gets the ball, she throws it Eyolfson, who by that time is running a streak pattern down the sideline. In Regina, Eyolfson caught the pass, but fumbled the ball and managed to recover it.
    Against the Blitz on Saturday, the Valkyries executed the play perfectly with 6:51 expired in the second quarter. Eyolfson was wide open when she caught Thorstad’s pass and went into the end zone untouched on a 23-yard reception to give Saskatoon a 15-6 lead.
    “I caught the ball,” said a gleeful Eyolfson. “I just held on to the ball really tight.”
    Eyolfson’s touchdown reception came at a time when the Valkyries really started to roll.
Ricki Obed is set to take off on a 96-yard touchdown reception.
    Saskatoon exited the first quarter with a 1-0 lead on a 32-yard punt single from safety Rienna Rueve.
    The Blitz jumped ahead 6-1 with 2:44 expired in the second quarter when star quarterback Maude Lacasse capped a long touchdown drive with a one-yard sneak play. Montreal’s ensuing two-point convert attempt was unsuccessful.
    Just 63 seconds after that score, Eyolfson hit star running back Sam Matheson on a screen pass, and Matheson broke about four tackles on 37-yard touchdown reception that gave the Valkyries an 8-6 edge.
    After Eyolfson’s touchdown catch gave the Valkyries a 15-6 lead, the Blitz looked to have gotten back in the game, when Lacasse hit star receiver Anrelie D’anjou Drouin on a 37-yard bomb pass for a major score. D’anjou Drouin’s score was taken off the board, when the officials ruled she was offside on the play.
Maude Lacasse threw for 343 yards for the Blitz.
    Montreal’s drive continued, but it ultimately stalled on the Valkyries 14 yard line.
    On the first play of the ensuing Saskatoon possession, Eyolfson hit fourth-year receiver Ricki Obed on a deep flag pattern on the left side of the field. Obed raced the rest of the way for a 96-yard major score to give the Valkyries a 22-6 advantage.
    Obed finished the contest with three receptions for 107 yards to go with her one touchdown.
    “That was awesome,” said Eyolfson. “I kind of threw it to a spot, and she (Obed) just came out of nowhere and just ran it.
    “It was definitely a turning point I think. We used that as motivation. We kind of got a spark going.”
    With 45 seconds remaining first half, the Blitz capped another long drive with a one-yard touchdown run from running back Emilie Belanger to cut the Valkyries lead to 22-12. 
Emilie Belanger, right, runs in a one-yard touchdown for the Blitz.
    Montreal was unsuccessful at trying a second two-point conversion attempt.
    The Valkyries pulled away in the game’s second half. Early in the third quarter, Matheson caught another screen pass from Eyolfson and dashed 49 yards for a second touchdown reception.
    In the fourth quarter, Carmen Agar ran the ball in from a yard out for the Valkyries final touchdown to put the hosts up 36-12. Agar topped the Valkyries in rushing with 43 yards on six carries.
    Rueve hit a 12-yard field goal late in the fourth to round out the game’s scoring.
    Lacasse finished the contest completing 26-of-47 passes for 343 yards to go along with two interceptions. She ran the ball nine times for 60 yards.
    The Blitz, who were formed in 2001, played out of women’s tackle leagues in the United States for most of their history. 
Aurelie D’anjou Drouin, right, makes a deep catch for the Blitz.
    They have been playing a schedule of exhibition contests last season and this season while trying to find another league to compete in.
    Lacasse, who has played for Canada’s national women’s tackle football team, enjoyed Saturday’s contest despite the final outcome on the scoreboard.
    “It was awesome,” said Lacasse. “Honestly, it is awesome for us to come and play a good game.
    “If we had a real season with these kinds of games every time, I feel like we would have been way better today. That was the first time this season that we had to play against a great team. I think if we had games like this all the time we would get much better.”
Emmarae Dale (#45) had 12.5 total tackles for the Valkyries.
    The pass-happy Blitz provided a different challenge to the Valkyries, who usually face opponents that are more run oriented.
    Rueve, who had both interceptions off Lacasse, said the Valkyries defensive backs enjoyed being really active in Saturday’s contest.
    “It is fun for us,” said Rueve, who is in her eighth season with the Valkyries. “We are used to going against some teams who don’t throw very much.
    “For us as defensive backs, it’s nothing but fun. You have an opportunity to get beat now and then, especially when you have a quarterback who can look you off like she (Lacasse) does. It is what I would ask for.”
    D’anjou Drouin led all receivers catching 12 passes for 197 yards. The Blitz had 93 yards rushing as a team to go with Lacasse’s 343 yards through the air for 436 yards of gross offence.
Sam Matheson (#22) breaks a tackle to score a major on a 49-yard catch.
    The Valkyries dominated in the turnover department recording seven takeaways on three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and two turnovers on downs.
    The Blitz had one takeaway coming off a turnover on downs.
    Middle linebacker Emmarae Dale topped all players with 12.5 total tackles, while recovering a fumble and sharing a sack with rookie defensive end Danaye Holynski.
    “We rallied when we needed to,” said Rueve. “I feel like we kind of put everybody in spots where we needed too, and (we played) bend don’t break.”
    Overall, Valkyries head coach Pat Barry was pleased with Saturday’s season-ending contest for his club.
    “It was pretty exciting,” said Barry. “We knew it was going to be one of our most competitive games and it was.
    “They (the Blitz) are a very talented football team. We’ve never seen a quarterback like that who can make every throw on the field and look off our safety. She (Lacasse) is extremely talented.”
Rienna Rueve (#7) returns a punt for the Valkyries.
    The Valkyries were pumped they were able to complete the 2019 campaign with a perfect 9-0 record. The milestone came in a season that they had dedicated to their late defensive position coach Justin Filteau, who passed away in a plane crash on June 1.
    The nine overall games the Valkyries played in the 2019 were the most contests the squad hit the field for in one campaign.
    It started back on March 23 with a 34-6 victory over the Sin City Trojans in and exhibition game in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
    The Valkyries won their sixth WWCFL title when they downed the Riot in this year’s the league final.
    Saturday’s win provided a perfect cap to the season.
    “It is ridiculously unreal,” said Rueve. “To go 9-0 in a season and to be healthy, you can’t ask for much more.”
The Valkyries celebrate finishing 9-0 overall in 2019.
    “That is really exciting,” said Barry. “It is hard to do.
    “Nine football games is a lot. We’re ready for a break now. It has been a great season.”

    If you have any comments you would like to pass along about this post, feel free to email them to
    If you like what you see here, you might want to donate to the cause to keep independent media like this blog going. Should you choose to help out, feel free to click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner. Thank you for stopping in.