It’s a season the Grande Prairie Drillers would like to quickly put behind them. The local football club failed to qualify for the Alberta Football League playoffs for the first time in their 14-year history.
They finished with a record of 2-6, one game back of the Lloydminster Vandals for the final playoff spot.
The Drillers made the league final six years ago, the height of the organizations success. Jordan Fersch is the Head Coach, President and a player with the Drillers and plans on making changes in 2018.
“We haven’t had a good year of practices since that 2011 season. We need at least 20 guys at practice every week. Number wise, we need more guys coming to games. We’ve just got to get our name out there and recruit more players, get some more local talent and hopefully find a whole new coaching staff too. We’ve had players this year who were coaching. That makes it tough to make calls when you’re on the field all game,” Fersch said. “It would definitely turn our organization around having a coach out there… We’re going to put our nose to the grindstone and try to find someone this offseason.”
“We had a lot of rebuilds going on, we were a young team. A lot of our veterans, they stepped away this year. We were just getting back to the basis. Number wise, again, we were low. Travelling to road games, we were 20 guys or less, that hurt us. We were a competitive team all the way through the first half [of the season] every game. Then we got tired and the other teams took advantage of that.”
One thing the organization was able to accomplish this season was increased community involvement.
“We did a lot of fundraisers through stampedes and rodeos. We did a lot of security work for a lot of different organizations,” Fersch explained. “We got more fans out of it and it helped with recruiting players too.”
The Fort McMurray Monarchs captured first-place during the AFL’s regular season with an unblemished 8-0 record. They will be looking to win back-to-back league titles after downing the Central Alberta Buccaneers 32-23 in last year’s final.
AFL playoffs kick-off August 12.