It was all hugs, cheers and jumps in the air after Ponoka’s senior Broncs won their first ever game since their foray into the 12-man football scene three years ago, defeating Drayton Valley’s Frank Maddock Warriors with a score of 15-6 at the Ponoka Secondary Campus football field on Thursday, Sept. 17.
Drayton Valley, a team coming from a strong six-man football tradition, is the newest addition to the Central Alberta’s 12-man varsity football league and it was clear from the first few minutes of the game that they still had some distance to cover to establish their game routines.
The first quarter went off with each side testing the defensive strength of the other and without any numbers being put on the scoreboard. Broncs defense once again proved that they had matured enough to put up significant resistance to rushing offence, reading the plays early and bringing down ball carriers immediately after they took possession. In fact, Broncs defense was so good that Warriors offence could not get closer than 30 yards to the Broncs red zone in the entire first half. Ponoka boys forced turnovers on downs and fumbles to recover the ball and gave a very hard time to the visitors’ offensive line-up.
In the second quarter, Broncs got quite close to their first touch down but were thwarted by the Warriors defense, so it was left to Hector Ibarra to score a field goal for the Broncs to get on the scoreboard with a 3-0 lead. A few minutes after the field goal, Ibarra tried a second, almost 50-yard field goal, could not score but still got the ball in the red zone, earning a single point, allowing the hosts to go into the second half with a 4-0 lead.
The first play of the second half saw Broncs’ Lanny Wlldcat suffer a severe injury: In blocking a Warrior, Wildcat dislocated his elbow and tore a tendon, which was later reported would require a surgery.
Losing a teammate in the course of the game fired up Broncs, who started to attack the Warriors red zone with an even greater determination. Broncs defense added to the effort with interceptions, forcing fumbles and turnovers on the hosts. Midway through the third quarter, Douglas Burton scored the Broncs’ sole touchdown with a 30-yard dash, and with Ibarra making good on the conversion, the score stood at 11-0. Then Ibarra scored another field goal to make it 14-0 with another safety later conceded by the Warriors made it 15 for the hosts.
Warriors, however, were not to let the game go, they adjusted and switched from rushing plays to passing plays with some considerable success. They scored their touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but their two-point conversion attempt was thwarted by Broncs defense:15-6.
While the Broncs as a team performed with great motivation, a few players stood out with their passion: Braeden Korchinski did everything in offense and defense, from intercepting the ball to rushing it, from tackling ball carriers to recovering fumbled balls; quarterback DJ Horne improved his passing to accurately hit the receivers with up to 30 yards of successful receptions; Josh Parent had two interceptions and several vital tackles.
Broncs coaching staff were visibly ecstatic. The man who spearheaded the Broncs 12-man football program, former head coach Scott MCGregor was there to share the jubilation with Cody Baird, Jamie Blinkhorn and Darrel Feschuk.
All coaches paid tribute to the work of “outstanding defense.”
“This is the time to get back our team pride,” said Baird. He added that they would continue to work on improving their plays in the practice sessions.
Senior Broncs have a bye this week and they travel to Wetaskiwin on Thursday, Oct 1 for 6 p.m. game.