By Todd Lewis
Bantam Broncs head coach
All three Ponoka Broncs football teams were in action this past weekend.
The seniors, bantams, and peewees kicked off in the semifinals, hoping to earn a ticket to the championship round.
The peewees travelled to Stettler to take on the Panthers, who finished number one in the CPWFL.
The Broncs had had a fantastic week of practice and had shown some serious toughness in the face of terrible weather conditions.
This resilience and focus would be a huge asset against the talented Panthers squad: Stettler looked cold and the Broncs didn’t.
While Stettler still played like the strong team that they are, it was apparent that some of their players couldn’t shake the cold and let it affect their play. The Peewee Broncs used this advantage to great effect throughout the entire game.
Stettler’s offence was able to find the outside on the Broncs early, racking up three scores to the Broncs’ single TD by the first half.
Despite being down by 16 points, the peewees started the second half with strong, consistent, and focused play, slowly narrowing the gap on the scoreboard.
Defensive coordinators, Michael Davidese and Caleb Reed, did a fantastic job of adjusting the Broncs’ defence, giving up zero points in the second half.
This stalwart defence gave the ball back to the Bronc offence who were now starting to poke holes in the Stettler defence.
With less than a minute left on the clock, the Broncs found themselves trailing 27-28.
They drove the field, gaining yards with each play, and eventually found themselves on Stettler’s 10-yard line with four seconds on the clock.
James Scott (No. 18) pitched the ball to Ty Quast (No. 34) who broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.
The clock struck zero when Quast was finally brought down, an inch short of scoring the game-winning touchdown.
It is impossible to come any closer to winning a football game. The Peewee Broncs fought until literally the last second, showing zero quit.
Quast was a beast all over the field, recording numerous tackles on defence and finding the end zone multiple times.
Grayson Foot (No. 13) had a solid game at the defensive end, showing tremendous improvement throughout the game.
Gage Cardinal No. 61) returned from injury and had a standout game at offensive centre.
The Bantam Broncs kicked off in Drumheller.
It was their second game against the Titans, who bested the Broncs in the first week of the regular season. The Bantams were coming off a convincing victory in Lacombe and were polished and focused for playoffs.
The Broncs’ offence was able to make big strikes against Drumheller early on.
Chase Altizer (No. 99) ran the ball up the gut with speed and tenacity, following excellent blocks made by his offensive line.
While The Broncs’ O was able to make plays, they were playing against the strongest defence in the league (the only points scored on them in 2023 were by the Broncs way back in September).
Turnovers and ball security plagued the Bantam offense. Fumbles stalled momentum and sometimes coughed up the ball to Drumheller.
Defensively, the Broncs showed how much they improved since their last matchup with Drumheller.
Core defensive concepts were on display: the D was containing the outside run and did a good job filling cut-back lanes; Bronc defenders were in proper alignment, putting themselves in a position to succeed; the defence flowed from sideline to sideline, never failing to play to the whistle; Broncs forced numerous fumbles from Drumheller as well.
Despite strong play, the Broncs’ defence struggled to contain Drumheller’s effective running game.
The Titan offence was efficient, fast, and aggressive, and were able to break open some big plays that resulted in touchdowns.
Poor field position from Bronc turnovers also led to the Titans recording points.
While the Bantam Broncs lost 6-42, the score was hardly indicative of the game. While the Titans earned their victory, the Broncs were in the game for four quarters.
It wasn’t a perfect game, but it was a perfect effort. A hard-fought game that both Ponoka and Drumheller should be proud of.
The Bantam Broncs will kick off against the Strathmore Badgers in the bronze-medal final on Nov. 4.
“The Senior Broncs travelled to Camrose for a semi-final playoff, Friday-night-lights game,” said Cody Baird, senior Broncs head coach.
“The Broncs had a tough matchup as Camrose remained undefeated. Not only were the Seniors facing the cold weather, but also low roster numbers. They ended up losing 48-0, but still played a great game.
“We want to acknowledge our Grade 12 players who played their final football game as a Bronc: Luke Doornewaard, Cole Carlson, Blair Cardinal, Sam Doornewaard, and Kormac Bresee.
Luke Bonnett joined the coaching staff this year as an assistant coach.
“Football isn’t an easy sport to coach and the program appreciates all of his experience, leadership, commitment, and support he continues to bring to the program,” said Baird.
Richard Hinkley kept score for all the senior games and Kelly McChenney announced all of the home games.
2023 Broncs season:
While none of the three Ponoka Broncs football teams progressed to league championship games, it does not make the 2023 season any less successful.
The purpose of the Broncs football program isn’t to win games, score touchdowns, or to win trophies: it’s to set kids up for success.
We define success by learning how to push one’s self, playing with ceaseless effort; focusing on constant growth and improvement (trusting the process rather than the result); and learning how to lift one’s brothers and become a true teammate.
All Broncs on the peewee, bantam, and senior squads demonstrated all of these tenets. Their play, dedication, and courage are rivalled by none.
All Broncs and Ponoka should be proud of the absolutely successful 2023 football season.