It was the perfect time for the Bantam Broncs to get their first victory.
The club went to Springbank Oct. 29 and won their Division 3 playoff contest 20-6. As a result, the Broncs will face a tough Hunting Hills squad Nov. 4 in Lacombe at 4:30 p.m. for the title.
Ponoka ended the season with seven losses and was placed in the bottom division of the 12-team league’s playoff format. However, they were bumped up one spot after one of the teams, Hunting Hills, was deemed to have used an ineligible player during the season and had their wins striped by the league.
That provided the Broncs with the opportunity and they took full advantage.
“We were originally to play Lindsay Thurber, so getting to play Springbank was good for us as we matched up well with them being a new, young team,” said Broncs head coach Todd Lewis.
“And it was amazing, now the team knows it is possible to win a game and that they can do it again.”
Lewis believes the two-hour bus trip south might have been a key to the win.
“It provided us the time to do our pre-game prep with the players thinking about what they needed to do and going over their playbooks,” he said.
“I think that was the big difference for our earlier games, as they played strong right from the start and avoided our typical showing where we don’t really start to play until after halftime. I hope this finally clicks for the players as to how they need to prepare for games.”
As for the contest, the Broncs pushed the ball up the field well for most of the opening half, but Lewis explained he might have been a bit too conservative in his play calling or else they would have put points on the board early.
“The players executed and moved the ball well, but I think I was more conservative than I normally am since it was a playoff game. So, when a drive did stall, we punted the ball away rather than go after it on third down,” he stated.
“However, I was very confident in our defence and they did their job very well, getting us the ball back in great field position most of the time.”
It was that battle for field position that ultimately got the Broncs their first touchdown in the second quarter followed by another with just three seconds remaining in the first half.
Both defences then took over in the second half until the Broncs began to lose the field position early in the fourth quarter, giving Springbank possession on the Broncs half of the field for the first and only time in the game. That would eventually lead to their lone touchdown.
The Broncs would salt the game away with an interception return for a touchdown in the final minute.
“Wins are secondary for us, as we are about developing and building players, but every once in a while you need this and it was such a boost to their morale,” he said.
“The biggest thing was that I told them, no one will play perfectly so all you can do is put in a perfect effort. They did just that, executed 100 per cent, played to the whistle and on the interception, everyone put in the effort. It was a wonderful wave of blocks that got that touchdown.
“Our team is going into that final game feeling the highest they have ever felt and I think that will be a big advantage for us.”