In a classic case of scoreboard failing to reflect the real game, Ponoka’s Bantam Broncs played a hard-fought game against one of the league’s most formidable teams, Sylvan Lake Lions, in their season opener at home on Saturday, Sept.5, losing the game 38-6, but making their coaching staff proud and hopeful.
The game began in cool and breezy weather and the experienced and bigger-sized Lions wasted no time getting on the scoreboard with their first touchdown of the game in the fourth minute. Broncs at times struggled to read the games of the Lions offense and had difficulties in the earlier stages of the first half. Lions continued to capitalize on weaknesses of the hosts and scored one more touchdown just a few seconds from the end of the first quarter. Having converted both kicks after the touchdowns, the score stood at 16-0 as the second quarter started.
With it, the Broncs defense started to demonstrate a visibly stronger presence on the field, forcing the Lions to punt a few times after denying them first downs. Then in the ninth minute of the second quarter, Jared Bussiere stormed through the defensive line of the Lions and scored the Broncs’ only touchdown to loud cheering and applause from Ponoka fans. The kick after the touchdown, however, was not converted and the score improved to 16-6. Lions didn’t take their lead for granted and scored another one for good measure just in the final minute of the first half and with the conversion, the scoreboard showed 24-6 for the visitors as the second half began.
That was the time for the Broncs’ defense to shine: They forced turnovers on downs, they forced fumbles and they even held back Lions offence at the six-yard line, denying them a touchdown at such a close range. But the better coordinated Lions played a simply higher-level game and scored two more touchdowns in the second half and failing to convert the kick in one of them.
Bantam Broncs’ head coach Todd Lewis said after the game that regardless of the result, he was proud of his team.
“The keyword as we went into this game was resilience, I asked my players to be resilient and adapt to the challenges and they did,” he said.
He expressed satisfaction with the passing games they executed, but he admitted that they were slow to set up their rushing games, allowing the Lions defence to stop the ball carriers without problems, and that there were clumsy snaps disrupting the execution of passing games. He said they would be working on those issues in their upcoming practices.
Bantam Broncs now start a series of three road games beginning in Lacombe on Saturday, Sept.12 and following that in Stettler a week later. They will play their next home game on Saturday, Oct. 10 against Hunting Hills.
In the meantime, the senior Broncs, after having a bye in the first week of the season, play their season opener at home hosting the Stettler Wildcats, who lost to St. Albert with a score of 10-0 in their first road game last Thursday, Sept. 3.