Following a hugely disappointing 2007 season things turned even more sombre following the tragic death of DB David Antonius just before Christmas. Some serious changes were in store for the Wolfpack. A number of veteran players left the team including DB Brock Balog, DB Damony Simmonds, DE’s Aaron Giovanetto and Gene Loria and WR Jeff Maltais. What may have been a rebuilding year for other teams was simply a reloading year for the Wolfpack. Some new faces appeared on the scene that would have a huge impact on the season to come such as RB Jeff Williams, LB Pablo Martinez, SB Evan Kaluta, WR/QB Daniel Craig, LB Jon Scratch & DB's Dwayne Ross & Justyn Wilson.
2008 opened up on the road against the expansion Parkland Panthers who proved to be no pushovers!! The Wolfpack barely hung on for a 25-23 victory. We returned the following week to Edmonton and had a much better game against the Seahawks, blowing them out 61-3!! Next up was our home opener against the Grande Prairie Drillers who travelled with a full squad & ready to play!! The game featured the leagues best 2 QB’s Darryl Leason and Nathan Aldred duelling all afternoon. When the dust settled the Drillers had another victory over the Wolfpack 44-42. The next week saw another tough game as the Red Deer Buccaneers gave the Pack all we could handle until late in the game with Wolfpack coming out on top 20-9 and running our record to 3-1 at the halfway point of the season.
The Pack returned to Red Deer the following week for a matchup against the always strong Edmonton Stallions. Despite 5 Wolfpack turnovers the Stallions just couldn’t keep up on offence and the Wolfpack claimed a 38-21 victory. The Pack returned home the following week to tangle with the much improved Lloydminster Vandals who had picked up a number of quality players from the now defunct Wainwright Longhorns. It proved to be a tough affair with Pack holding on for a 28-12 victory. The regular season finale had been anticipated all year with the Wolfpack looking for a little payback against the Calgary Gators who had ended our season in 2007!! The game did not disappoint resulting in a tough, hard hitting tilt that saw the Wolfpack triumph 23-15 and sending the Gators on the road for the playoffs. The Pack finished 6-1 and thanks to the Drillers stumbling down the stretch, secured 1st place.
Our Semi-final opponent turned out to be the tough Edmonton Stallions. The game turned into a classic defensive battle and when the dust had cleared the Wolfpack advanced with a 15-10 win! The AFL Championship game pitted the Wolfpack against the surprising Lloydminster Vandals in Calgary. The game was a slugfest in the first half with both teams seemingly scoring at will. The second half saw the Wolfpack defence step up and frustrate the Vandals while the Pack offence kept on rolling amassing 600+ yards and winning 43-21. The win was our 13th AFL Championship and gave us the chance to play for the National Championship at home in McMahon Stadium!!
After a long season…the Calgary Wolfpack clawed our way back to the top of the senior football mountain on Saturday night! The 10-0 NFC Champion Tri-City Outlaws came to town full of confidence and swagger. However confidence doesn’t win football games….execution does. The Calgary Wolfpack controlled the football the entire night, doubling up the Outlaws in time of possession. When the whistle blew to end the game, the Wolfpack had a convincing 35-7 victory and hoisted the Sid Forster Memorial Trophy for the 4th time as CMFL National Champions!!
The Wolfpack Offence racked up 523 total yards including 222 on the ground!! Leading the Wolfpack ground attack was RB Jeff Williams with 17 carries for 147 yards and 2 TD’s. Williams also hauled in 2 passes for another 57 yards and was named the games MVP Offence! RB Rod Bailey chipped in with 37 yards on 8 carries, RB Joel Gueverra had 18 yards on 3 carries, FB Matt Squires had 3 carries for 8 yards….all first down conversions!! While the ground attack caught the Outlaws off guard, the passing game as efficient as usual. QB Darryl Leason was 23 of 37 for 296 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. His favourite target on the night was SB Evan Kaluta who hauled in 8 receptions for 100 yards and 1 TD. SB Terry Eldridge caught 3 passes for 45 yards while SB Mike Leason caught 4 passes for 39 yards.
The Wolfpack Defence had another huge group effort against a powerful Outlaws defence, holding them 7 points and forcing 4 turnovers!! LB Lazar Velev led the charge with 4.5 tackles (3 solo, 3 assists, 1 for loss) and 1 sack. DT Sheldon Southgate had 4.0 tackles (2 solo, 4 assists, 2 for loss) and DE Brian Shewchuk also had 4.0 tackles (1 solo, 6 assists, 1.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks. DB Ken Watt had a big game as well with 3.5 tackles (3 solo, 1 assist) and 1 INT. DB’s Rob Sakires and Robb Sherman each had an INT as well!! K/P Tom Dixon showed his veteran savy going 3 for 3 on extra points, hitting 2 of 3 FG attempts and having a solid 41.3 yard average on 4 punts, pinning the Outlaws deep in their own end. Tom was named the games MVP Special Teams for his efforts!
The Calgary Wolfpack would like to thank all of our families and friends for their support during another long season. We would also like to acknowledge the great support from our sponsors, without which we couldn’t do what we do!! The Calgary Wolfpack will now take the next couple of months to rest, heal, and celebrate. Rest assured though that come December…we will be back practicing indoors and preparing for 2009. We have climbed back to the top of the mountain and we like the view from up here….we intend to stay!!