Come September, friends and former Cochrane Lions football teammates Bennett Fauth and James Drake will don different jerseys – one red and one blue – but first, they’ll play one last game on the gridiron together for Team Alberta’s U16 squad.
Fauth, who will be joining the Cochrane Cobras high-school football team as a linebacker in the fall, and Drake, who will become a receiver for the Bobcats at Bow Valley High School, are getting ready to represent the province against some of the best in the west at the Football Canada U16 Western Challenge in Langley, B.C. July 3 to 6.
“It feels pretty good to have a good buddy that I’ve known for a while on the team with me and to be able to play one last time with him before we go off to different high schools,” said Fauth.
This won’t be either’s first crack at a Football Canada event, as both Fauth and Drake had the chance to play in the Football Alberta Bantam Showcase over the May long weekend as part of the Calgary Metro Dinos. Fellow Lions teammates Nicholas Dangerfield and Riley Boynton also took part in the event.
Fauth and Drake were selected among other top players at the showcase to the final selection camp set up for the Western Challenge earlier this month in Red Deer, where they were picked to play for Team Alberta.
Drake said he is both “confident and nervous” about the upcoming opportunity.
“It’s exciting to play with [Bennett] one last time before he goes to the other school,” he said, adding they have played in Cochrane Minor Football together for about the last six years.
Mike Dangerfield, their former head coach for the Lions, began training Fauth and Drake at the peewee level all the way through to their bantam (U15) year.
He says it’s remarkable to see what their team was able to achieve throughout the 2021-22 season despite COVID-19 restrictions keeping them from games and regular practices in the two years prior.
“We had a great year and these two players were a huge part of it,” said Dangerfield. “James being on offense, just being our star receiver … he’s an unbelievable player where he can just go up into double coverage and take it away from defenders. He’s a quarterback’s favourite target.”
Fauth, he said, was a great leader for the team.
“Bennett’s on the defensive side of the ball and was the captain of our defense as middle linebacker, and he just showed great leadership skills and motivated his teammates,” said Dangerfield. “He really leads by example on the field.”
The pair’s former coach said it’s going to be entertaining to watch the two go at it with the Bobcats and the Cobras next year.
“Bennett’s gonna try to tackle James and James is going to try to score on Bennett,” said Dangerfield. “It’ll be really fun to watch and I’m sure they’ll both do well.”