Gordie Howe Sports Complex
DB/RB pumped for future in game with Huskies
|Taz Smith-Windsor jets downfield for the Carlton Crusaders.|
On October 28 playing under the “Friday Night Lights” of Saskatoon Minor Football Field, Smith-Windsor suited up for his final high school football game as his Carlton Comprehensive High School Crusaders from Prince Albert fell 38-23 to the Holy Cross High School Crusaders in a hard fought 6A SSSAD semifinal contest. Smith-Windsor had been a star running back and defensive back with Carlton’s senior football squad since his Grade 9 season in 2019.
Viewed as one of the best graduating high school players in Saskatchewan, the 17-year-old Grade 12 student has committed to joining the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Football Team for the 2023 season.
With that noted, Smith-Windsor viewed his time in high school football as one of the best times in his life. For the past two seasons, he took the field with his younger brother, Sullivan Smith-Windsor, with the Carlton senior team. Sullivan was Carlton’s star quarterback this past season in just his Grade 10 year.
Taz Smith-Windsor said Carlton head coach Lindsay Strachan was one of the biggest influences in helping him in football along with his parents in mother, Jaimie Smith-Windsor, and father, Al Osaduik. The now graduated high school star said the relationships he made with the Carlton squad will always be close to his heart.
“Obviously playing with my brother is a great experience,” said Smith-Windsor. “I’ve just made so many friends here.
“I have 40 or 50 brothers in the dressing room. It is great. My coaches, I’ve built great relationships with them.
“All those guys, they are just great guys that I’ve learned to look up to. I’ve made so many great relationships with these guys. I hope I get to stay in contact with them after high school.”
Smith-Windsor said his grandfather in Gren Smith-Windsor was the initial influence that got him interested in playing football. Gren used to be a frequent visitor at SMF Field. He played on the offensive line and linebacker for the Saskatoon Hilltops in the 1960s and was an assistant coach on the Hilltops 1969 CJFL championship team.
“My grandpa was always someone I looked up to,” said Taz Smith-Windsor, who stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 170 pounds. “I just kind of got into it because of him, and never really looked back from there.”
|Taz Smith-Windsor drops into pass coverage as a defensive back.|
“It is the ultimate team game,” said Smith-Windsor. “There is no other game that depends on reliance on your teammates as much as this one, and you just get so close with the guys you are playing with no matter what team it is.
“I think it is like one of the best character building sport there is.”
Smith-Windsor’s skills with the game progressed to the point that he joined Carlton’s senior team sooner than he thought he would.
“I started in Grade 9 in 2019,” said Smith-Windsor. “I wasn’t expecting to.
“I was expecting to play my last year of KFL like minor with the (Prince Albert) River Riders. I signed up for the Carlton high school camp and that is where I met coach Lindsay Strachan. I made it through the week, and he said that he would really like me to play high school on the senior team.
“I took the opportunity, and I am super grateful that he gave it to me, because it was definitely the right decision to make.”
Smith-Windsor said playing alongside Sullivan for the past two seasons have been the most fun he has ever had in the sport. He enjoyed Carlton’s playoff run this past campaign.
In a SSSAD 6A quarter-final played at SMF Field on October 20, Carlton downed the Walter Murray Collegiate Marauders 20-15. The semifinal that followed against Holy Cross was up in the air until Holy Cross sealed the contest with a late fourth quarter touchdown that came off a big play score.
“Playoff football is always that much more fun, because it is that much more intense like win or go home,” said Smith-Windsor. “The level of competition is just super high.
“It is super fun. You get really close with these guys in those last two weeks. It is exciting.
|Taz Smith-Windsor breaks past a defender in the open field.|
Following his Grade 9 season, Smith-Windsor started to think that playing football at the post-secondary level was a reality. The Huskies were a team he had his heart set on playing for one day as he grew up.
“I knew I wanted to play football for as long as I could,” said Smith-Windsor. “I didn’t know where that was going to happen.
“It started to kind of become a reality to play university football in Grade 10, and then it became my goal. My dream was to play for the Huskies. They were always my number one team that I wanted to play for, so I’m super stoked to be part of the team now.”
Huskies head coach Scott Flory said he liked what Smith-Windsor showed on the field and believes the youngster has good character.
“Taz is a really smart and athletic football player that has a lot of talent,” said Flory. “He is just a really good young man who has so much potential.
“I’m excited to see him in a Huskie uniform next year.”
Flory said the coaches and staffers with the Huskies were pumped to have Smith-Windsor join the program.
“It means a lot to us and our program that the best young men in our province want to be a part of what we’re doing,” said Flory. “We strive for excellence on and off the field, and I know Taz does too.
“He’s a great fit for us in our program.”
Smith-Windsor said he would like to play football at the professional level one day, but those thoughts are in the back of his head. He wants to embrace the experience he is going to have with the Huskies.
The Huskies have enjoyed success in recent years winning Canada West Conference titles in 2018 and 2021 and appearing in the U Sports championship game – the Vanier Cup – in 2021. The Huskies dropped a 27-21 decision in the 2021 Vanier Cup to the University of Western Ontario Mustangs in Quebec City, Quebec.
|Taz Smith-Windsor is pumped to play for the Huskies in 2023.|
Smith-Windsor said the Huskies recent success was a bonus when it came on his decision to join that team.
“Their recent success is obviously a big plus,” said Smith-Windsor. “They have a great group of guys this year.
“Even last year, you saw they were super successful. I want to play for a competitive football team, and these guys are them. If you go watch their practices, they are a team that is going to win a championship, and I want to be part of it.”