Injuries combined with facing a larger school left the Ponoka Broncs football squad behind the eight ball in what turned into a 42-7 loss on their home turf to the Sylvan Lake Lakers.
However, head coach Cody Baird explained the final score of the Sept. 19 contest was not very reflective of just how well the team played in the overall scheme of things.
“We made a few errors on special teams that cost us a few points early in the game, but overall, the coaching staff was very proud of the way we played against a powerhouse team,” he said.
“Sylvan has an amazing program and also have a larger pool of students to draw from as a Tier III school.
“We would always love to see a larger bench and more players, but those things don’t change overnight and we are seeing waves come through our program depending on the year. We will continue to pump energy into our program and boost them as we keep seeing success each year. It is just a long process, but one that has came a long way as well.”
Sylvan, who polished off Drayton Valley 99-0 a week earlier, came out strong taking an early 14-0 lead courtesy a few ball handling miscues from the Broncs. However, the defence did its best to hold the opposition, but they too got tired as the game wore on and couldn’t stem the Lakers’ tide.
“We went in wanting to run the ball and work on our power game. The trouble was special teams hurt us, as we had difficulty flipping the field on punts and securing the ball on our returns,” Baird noted.
“That gave Sylvan’s offence a huge advantage, gaining either an extra offensive possession or field position.”
The Broncs, now with a 1-2 record, make the trip up to Wetaskiwin Sept. 26 (7:30 p.m. kickoff) to challenge their Hwy. 2A rivals. A victory would push Ponoka into second or third, depending on the outcome of other games this week.
“We have had huge success each week in specific areas, last week it was the power run and short yardage, and we are looking to combine everything into a well rounded and dynamic game,” he added.
It was literally a rough road trip to Strathmore for the Ponoka bantam Broncs, who were shutout 34-0 on Sept. 21.
Head coach Todd Lewis said their defence was very effective in closing the holes on Strathmore’s offence but the Broncs struggled to gain a lot of traction when their offence was out there.
“We forced them to punt often in the first half, but while we could string together a few first downs, we were forced to punt on each of our drives down the field,” he stated.
“It was a defensive showdown until the wheels fell off the cart.”
The first wheel came off when the Broncs fumbled a missed field goal in their own end zone, which Strathmore recovered for a touchdown. That was followed a few minutes later by Strathmore’s punter breaking away for a touchdown after a bad snap forced him to run for it.
“That happened two more times in the game and we went downhill even more each time,” said Lewis.
“While that was frustrating, it revealed areas that we need to improve on and fix. We have two options: let this define our season and play down to it. Or learn from it, improve and grow as a team.”
On the positive side, Masen Dennis came away with an interception to go with five tackles and three pass knockdowns while Daniel Deardren recovered a fumble plus had five tackles and Emily McMillan recorded 10 tackles and a forced fumble.
The bantam Broncs are back home this weekend to face Drumheller. Kickoff on Sept. 28 is set for 2 p.m.
All of the Ponoka football players will be out and about starting this week hoping to raise some money for the programs through their “Broncs Cards” discount card initiative. This is the teams main fundraiser and provides cardholders with unique benefits and discounts at various participating businesses.