The 2018-2019 Dryden Eagles football team is gearing up for the start of the regular season. The team has been moved up to the AAA division this year, which means that tougher competition can be expected.

“It’s a bit of unknown territory with the move up to the AAA division this year. We have a decent core of players coming back, players that are certainly capable of playing at that level, but it’s a bit uncertain this year,” said Head Coach Geoff Zilkans.

Zilkans added that the move to the higher decision was not the organization’s choice, and that the decision was made by the Winnipeg High School Football League.

“We’ll play with the best that the league has to offer. Some of them are very high-end programs, but we’ve seen some of the teams before and we’ll be competitive. I think the boys will get their eyes opened a little as well.”

Even though the division change was out of their choice, Zilkans noted that it could be considered a compliment to the historic-strength of the team.

“We’ve really progressed. Three or four years ago we were playing in the A division, so moving up as fast as we have is pretty unprecedented. It’s a testament to the guys that have been around the team. The guys will have to raise their game, and it’ll be a learning experience.”

In 2016, the Eagles had a perfect 10-0 regular season. The momentum continued with the Eagles going 3-0 in the post-season, capping off the season with a 21-0 win over the Portage Trojans to win the Canad Inns Bowl. It was their third WHSFL championship, and their first since 2006.

Tomorrow, the Eagles will be headed to Kenora to face off against the Beaver Brae Broncos, the Fort Frances Muskies, and Thunder Bay in a pre-season exhibition tournament. The games will all take place at the Tom Nabb Fields.

“That will be nice to see a variety of teams. Then, we’ll open the season against Vincent Massey who gave us some tough games last year. It will be a good week,” Zilkans added.

The Broncos are considered a AA team, and Fort Frances is in the A division. Thunder Bay doesn’t play in the WHSFL, so they don’t have a division ranking.

“Honestly, we won’t be too bad this year. The boys are really driving to see how far we can go this year,” said Brent Pollard, an injured offensive lineman for the Eagles. He added that he’s looking forward to facing off against Fort Frances in Kenora in the exhibition tournament.

The Eagles open their season at home against Vincent Massey on September 6.