It was a consistent effort on both sides of the football for the Ponoka bantam Broncs.
The squad played host to Red Deer’s Lindsay Thurber Raiders Oct. 12 and defeated the big city club 38-12, carrying the team’s momentum forward from the previous week.
While the Raiders got on the board with a touchdown in the first quarter, Ponoka got a pair of second quarter touchdowns courtesy Nate Sluggett and LJ Nieviadomy along with a covert before adding a safety touch near the end of the half.
“We are getting there,” said Broncs head coach Todd Lewis when asked about the club’s effort.
“We had a couple of down weeks and football is a mental game. How you feel is going to reflect how you play and, for a couple of weeks, we weren’t really a team.”
The Broncs kept up the pressure in the third quarter, defensively by getting a few turnovers, while offensively the club was running on all cylinders with two more touchdowns. Alvin Day scored on a two-yard plunge just past the midway mark of the quarter, one play after a huge 45-yard catch and run by Jake Sheppard following an acrobatic catch with a defender all over him.
That was followed just over a minute later by another Sluggett touchdown, just a few plays after the Broncs Emily McMillan pounced on a fumble created by Kadyn Reinbold striping it from the Raiders ball carrier on the kick return.
Red Deer got one touchdown back early in the fourth quarter, on a drive where Ponoka’s defence held the Raiders off for nearly four minutes. However, a couple of penalties also allowed the Raiders to hang onto the ball and eventually wind up in the end zone.
An interception return for a touchdown by the Broncs Jeremy Wildcat with two and half minutes remaining sealed the victory.
Lewis added the previous week in Springbank, where the team came back in the second half and shut out their opposition, the team found each other at half time and played like it the rest of the way.
“Thankfully, they started feeling better, got that momentum, built on the hype and carried that through to this game,” Lewis stated.
“We played a complete game — offense, defense, special teams. Every Bronc played a 100 per cent effort, lifted each other and that’s why we were successful. The score reflected that and that’s the cherry on top.”
But it wasn’t all on the kids’ play, as Lewis took some of the poor results on himself.
“I’m learning too, so I watched film and what our tendencies are, and that influenced what we did in practice. With better playcalling and the kids executing, this was the result,” he added.
“I can’t say enough for our defence too. Twelve players doing their job and not giving up. We just have to clean up those penalties and keep our passion.”
Another big test comes on Oct. 20 when the Broncs travel to Stettler (11 a.m. kickoff), a club Lewis feels is the team to beat.
“Everyone else is scared of them, but I’m not. I respect them, but if we come into that game with this mentality, execute and keep our hype, we will be successful,” he said.
As for the high school Broncs, the team completed their regular season Oct. 9 with a 40-0 victory in Drayton Valley.
Head coach Cody Baird said the club had a bye this week and will likely wind up in fifth spot. That would mean having another week of practice as the Broncs wait for their playoff opponent — the winner of Rocky Mountain House and Drayton Valley. While that game will be in Ponoka, a date and time has yet to be determined.