Quarterbacking duo stick together through new challenges
By Don Rice, Saskatoon StarPhoenix May 15, 2016Reed Thorstad and Alex Eyolfson have grown up playing football with and against each other for as long as they both can remember. When the opportunity arose, it only made sense that the two — sometimes teammates and sometimes rivals — would end up sharing duties as quarterback for the Saskatoon Valkyries in the Western Women’s Canadian Football League.
They both saw two quarters of action in Sunday’s game at SMF Field as the Valkyries romped ov
er the Manitoba Fearless 61-1.
“Right now we’re still rotating them. They’re both really close (in skill set), and it doesn’t hurt to play them both,” noted Valkyries offensive coordinator Chad Palmer. “It’s going well with both. There’s no point in changing it right now.”
The two also grew up competing against one another in other school sports — including basketball and volleyball. Thorstad, 20, graduated from Walter Murray two years ago and 18-year-old Eyolfson was a 2015 Holy Cross grad. They have excelled in flag football, and have won national silver medals twice together. Eyolfson has also won when Thorstad was competing in a different age group.
“They both have a really good base, as far as skill set goes,” noted Palmer. “They can both throw the ball down field fairly well. They’re both sponges when it comes to learning technique and applying technique on field.
|Photo by Michele Berg, Saskatoon StarPhoenix|
The two could hardly have imagined playing football together for as long as they have with Thorstad noting, “It’s really cool. We stuck with each other.”
Thorstad got the head start on rookie Eyolfson by joining the Valkyries last year. She saw duties as a receiver, and later in the season, as backup quarterback to Stacey Boldt. This season has been Eyolfson’s introduction, having never played the tackle version of the sport.
“I’m really excited because I’ve only played flag, and it was competitive, but this is really competitive,” Eyolfson said. “Just last weekend I got hit pretty well. It was good to get hit, but it for sure shook me up a bit. Knowing every throw you could get hit. I don’t really think about it until I’m actually on the ground.”
Each player adds their own area of strength to the team with Eyolfson getting a slight edge due to her athleticism and speed — her “X-factor,” as Palmer called it. But Thorstad gets a small nod on throwing the ball down the field and controlling the offence, because she’s had the previous experience with the team.
“You have two kinds of totally different strengths,” said Palmer. “But they’re both close on both aspects so they both offer something that the other doesn’t, yet it’s not a drop off on anything else.”
OVERTIME: Eight different Valkyries scored touchdowns against the Fearless with Eyolfson completing two touchdown passes on the day… The Valkyries return to action Sunday when they entertain the reigning WWCFL champion Regina Riot at 7 p.m. at SMF Field.