With the Hardy Cup final on the horizon, the Thunderbirds football team and the Calgary Dinos are locked in another battle for supremacy.
With the tight victory against the Regina Rams in the Hardy Cup semifinals, the T-Birds have successfully punched their ticket to the Canada West finals. The Dinos defeat of the Alberta Golden Bears puts them head-to-head against the ’Birds.
During the regular season, the Dinos and 'Birds were first and second respectively in Canada West, making them the superpowers of the conference — and they are poised to bring the other to its knees.
“Calgary’s a team to beat. They’re well coached. They have a tremendous culture of success,” said head coach Blake Nill. “We need to go in and we need to compete.”
The Dinos reign of terror does speak for itself. Calgary won all but one of the games during the regular season and scored a total of 340 points — the only team in U Sports football with more points is Western University with 386 points.
The next game will be the two teams’ third straight encounter in the Hardy Cup. Already, both teams have claimed a Hardy Cup championship in the last two seasons.
Senior T-Birds star receiver Alex Morrison already knows the rivalry all too well. “It’s the ultimate test. They’ve been measuring stick for many, many years now,” said Morrison. “We strive to compete against them.”
Despite the challenges, Nill — as the commanding general of the T-Birds army — is getting ready to take down the adversary.
“Calgary deserves the respect that they’ve earned,” said Nill. “We’re going to prepare fully for them. We’re going to prepare to win.”
Even younger team members like first-year linebacker Ben Hladik are looking forward to the action ahead.
“I knew we had a great team coming into this year and I knew we had a chance if we played together and played as well as we can,” said Hladik. “I feel blessed being able to do this.”
The two teams’ fate will be decided this coming Saturday at 12 p.m. PT in Calgary.