There was no championship title to celebrate this season, but Ponoka’s bantam Broncs football squad was successful in many other ways.
The club held its annual awards banquet at Ponoka Secondary Campus on Jan. 16.
Head coach Todd Lewis’ goal has never wavered since starting up the team — set kids up for success.
“We measure success not on a scoreboard, but rather based on three tenants: play with effort and always finish better than when you started; play with passion — your heart is your strongest muscle; and, always lift your brother,” he stated.
The team also came into the season with the biggest roster ever and one that was experienced, with 16 Grade 9 players, most of which had been with the team since it began.
That gave Lewis some high expectations and the club did achieve a measure of success, appearing in the B division semi-final.
“As with any team, we proved to be momentum-driven. We were on, we played extremely well. We were off, we struggled to execute,” he said.
“As the season progressed, we learned to better control ourselves and play even when momentum wasn’t in our favour.”
That said, one game really stands out for Lewis as it shows just what this team was all about.
“It’s easy to play hard and have fun when things are going well, but it takes character to continue the drive when things are tough. One of the best moments highlighting that was our game in Springbank,” he said.
“Down 27-8 at halftime, the easiest route would have been to roll over and quit, go through the motions and wait for the final buzzer.
“Instead, the bantam Broncs got tough and leaned on one another. The offence was able to start moving the ball and our defence was tenacious. We scored a touchdown, then another and another until finally, we found ourselves 36-27 victors.”
One other measure that made the team a “success” was the Broncs being named the league’s most sportsmanlike team for the second straight season.
“The other coaches and I are extremely proud of our players for earning this award. Our success isn’t dependent on a scoreboard. It’s dependent on us improving as athletes and people, lifting our brothers, and playing with passion,” said Lewis.
“Throughout the season, all of our players exemplified those values and the award is a reflection of that. The character our players have demonstrated will put them in a position to succeed not only in football, but in life in general.”
Emily McMillan was presented with the club’s most valuable player, someone Lewis stated was not only one of the team’s best players in every aspect of the game, but also the hardest working and toughest physically and mentally and as a player that made everyone else around her better.
The offensive MVP went to the team’s leading scorer and game-breaking play maker LJ Nieviadomy, while Jeremy Wildcat was named the defensive MVP, who led the team in tackles and was always tough to play against.
Kadyn Reinbold was the club’s outstanding rookie, who played great at running back as a Grade 7, while the team’s most improved player was Nate Sluggett.
Logan Heidt was named the offensive lineman of the year. The defensive lineman of the year, along with the club’s leadership award, went to Marcus Saddleback.
Brodie Ronnie was presented the Broncs Pride award for exemplifying what it means to be a Bronc on and off the field as well as being an ambassador for the program.
Bryson Buffalo was named the team’s Unsung Hero award winner, while Jake Sheppard and Quaid McKinney were co-winners of the Versatility Player of the Year award.
The final award is the Gatorade Player of the Year and it went to Luke Doornewaard.
“At practice, we have a team tradition where we hand out a Gatorade to a player who has earned it. They earn the drink by playing hard, learning, and showing that they are excited to have the helmet on,” Lewis said.
“Luke demonstrated those values at every practice, event, and game. The kid loves football and it shows.”