Six players and two coaches of the Cochrane Cobras football team are playing a major role in the Senior Bowl that's been moved into a January time slot.

Five of the players are on the defensive side of the ball for the South team, joining defensive coordinator Tom Knitter and D. J. Whetton, special teams coordinator and running backs coach.

Selected from the tryout camp were defensive backs Brayden Chamberlin, Hudson Hallden and Bodie Van de Kraats and linebackers Jesse Groot and Stanleigh Stone.

Running back Tate Larsen will be adding depth of their offence.

The Senior Bowl is the equivalent to an all-star game of the best graduating high school football players in Alberta. Forty players from both north and south high school teams are selected after tryouts.

Held since 1990, the south has won more often, but the North won 16-13 in overtime last year. The North also won in 2019 before the pandemic pause.

Knitter appeared in the Senior Bowl when he was a student at Cochrane High. When he returned to the school as a teacher, he went on to be named to the coaching staff.

While exciting about the opportunity to return to the coaching staff, he takes particular pride in the number of Cobras players selected.

"I think overall it just speaks volumes to the depth of our program from our offseason training to the way that we practice and to the way that we compete during the year," says Knitter. "It really is a program success to have so many guys represented at the Senior bowl this year."

He believes having so many Cobras on the roster will work to his advantage in calling the defence.

"I think one of the things that we talked about as a coaching staff is that we are trying to win one football game in a week and being fortunate enough to have five players from the defense that we run, I think is an excellent opportunity for us. It makes my world simpler that I don't need to change too much of my vernacular, but yeah, it's great for our program, very, very exciting for our program."

All but one of their players have played the game since a young age, first in minor ball, then with the Cobras. It's a crowning achieve of their high school career to play the game one more time as an all-star before graduating.

It's also an opportunity for those unsigned to post-secondary teams to be seen on the field.

"It's a little bit closer to the end of football season, so I do think it's going to help with recruit," says Knitter. "When the game was held on the May Long Weekend, a lot of the kids at that point had either kind of given up or committed to other schools, so it gives a chance for those players that haven't made that commitment to a USport program. I'm excited for them."

Besides joining many of his teammates, defensive back Hudson Hallden appreciates the chance to have eyes on him for potential post-secondary play.

"It's very exciting as someone who's still looking for opportunities to play after high school. It's great to get a lot of eyes on you. You meet a lot of people, and you make connections so you can build these relationships sooner."

Hallden has played football since atoms, starting with the Cochrane Lions then joining the Cobras in grade 10.

Defensive back Bodie Van de Kraats is anxious to hit the field for one final game of high school ball.

"It's such a wonderful opportunity that I'm happy to accept and I can't wait to do it with these wonderful group of guys."

He believes having three of the seven defensive backs on the field who are familiar with each other's play will work to the South advantage. The teams only get three days to meld before the game.

"It's good to have that prefab connection, to be able to communicate just the same and know how you work with each other without having to develop that afterwards."

Van de Kraats is also a Cobras veteran and played his minor ball with the Calgary Cowboys.

Linebacker Stanleigh Stone is only in his second year of football, but make no mistake, this guy is a deadly tackler with years of rugby experience behind him. He played for the Bow Valley Bobcats in grade 11 before coming to the Cobras.

He's reviewing his options for post-secondary play but right now he's taking in the moment.

"It's just good to be playing some extra football past the high school season. It means a lot."

Defensive back Brayden Chamberlin already knows where he's going to play after high school. He's recently signed a letter of intention with the UAlberta Golden Bears, where he'll join long-time teammate Jesse Groot.

That doesn't take away the excitement of playing in the Senior Bowl.

"Oh, it's huge going with the guys. For many of us, it's like one last hurrah, so we're trying to get another ring here and absolutely, it's going to be really fun."

The game is being played in the Encana Dome at Shouldice Park. It's been a few years since it was hosted by Calgary.

senior bowl tryoutsSeveral Cochrane Cobras participated in the tryout camp for the Senior Bowl. (photo submitted)

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