By Todd Lewis
Bantam Broncs head coach
Saturday, Oct. 21, was a big day for Ponoka football.
Both the peewee and senior Broncs kicked off (the Bantams were on a bye weekend).
The peewees were in Drumheller, competing in the new team’s first-ever playoff game. It was the third match-up between the Broncs and the Titans.
While the Broncs had won the last two matches between the two clubs, the Titans were fired up and ready to keep their season alive.
They proved that fact by scoring on their first offensive play. It was clear that the Titans weren’t going to make this easy.
The Broncs kept their heads in the game and responded with an offensive drive that eventually found the Titan endzone.
Ty Quast (No. 34), found a lane on the outside and ran in for the first of his many TDs this game.
While the Broncs’ offence put up a potent 46 points, the Titan defence was much improved since their last game.
The Broncs had to fight for every inch and for every point. Parker Millar (No. 3) set some key blocks and hauled in several passes (converting one into a TD of his own).
Defensively, the Broncs were hot and cold.
There were many tackles in the backfield as well as many forced fumbles; yet, every third play or so, Drumheller would find an open gap and run the ball for 30 yards. Gap control is vital to any defence and inconsistency hurt the Broncs’ defence.
Additionally, tackling was inconsistent. The good news: the peewees have a whole week to work on these very fixable areas.
On special teams, the Broncs converted most of their PAT kicks, earning an additional two points each time.
Having a strong field goal team is an asset, one that will benefit them next week in the semifinals.
On kickoff, the Broncs struggled to stay in their lanes. As a result, returners had space to run, resulting in three kick return touchdowns. Time will be spent in practice addressing this issue.
While it wasn’t the Peewee Broncs’s strongest game, they refused to quit and continued playing through a close game. 46-30, Broncs.
For their efforts, they progress to the semifinals where they take on the number one seed, the Stettler Panthers.
The Senior Broncs kicked off at home against the Coaldale Spartans in their final regular season game. If the Broncs were to qualify for playoffs, they had to find victory over Coaldale.
Both teams fought tenaciously in the first half, playing strong defensive football.
While it was difficult for both teams’ offensives to find the endzone, they entered halftime with a 14-14 tie.
The strong defensive play would continue in the second half; neither the Broncs nor the Spartans would score any points until Westin Potts (No. 1) powered through the Coaldale defence and scored the game-winning touchdown.
The seniors were successful on the two-point conversion, putting them up on Coaldale 22-14.
The Broncs’ defence would hold on, giving the Senior Broncs their first win of the season. They will now compete in playoffs, kicking off against the Camrose Trojans on Friday at 7 p.m. (in Camrose).
Head Coach Cody Baird highlighted the strong play of several Senior Broncs:
“Luke Doornewaard had a break-out game and led our team with his natural ability to find open space and move the ball. Cole Carlson motivated the team to excel despite low roster numbers and missing players.
“He made perfect blocks and catches, and he played with passion all (through the) game,” he said.
“Westin Potts is a rookie QB, yet kept composure and showed amazing football IQ. He was able to guide our offence and lead our most successful offensive game to date.
“The entire team — we were extremely low on players and all of them stepped up to play in difficult and new positions. They were able to not only play at a high level but experience success and discover what football can do for a young man’s character.”
Iron man football (playing on offence, defence, and special teams) is no easy feat; the seniors played iron man all game. Their character was revealed through their grit, determination, and resilience.
All three Ponoka Broncs teams compete in playoffs this coming weekend. The seniors kick off in Camrose, the bantams in Drumheller, and the peewees in Stettler.
All Broncs will play with passion, ceaseless effort, and continued growth and improvement. And they will never, ever, fail to “Lift Their Brothers.”