The Ponoka bantam Broncs got in some great work on both sides of the ball during this mini-game against Drumheller May 25 at the jamboree in Lacombe. The local squad also faced the host Raiders, Sylvan Lake, Hunting Hills and Lloydminster. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Broncs football clubs step into spring

Ponoka players get ready for fall season with spring camps

Optimism is high for the coaching staff of both Broncs football clubs as the two teams go through their annual spring camps.

Both the bantam and senior Ponoka Broncs squads opened spring camp last week and are looking forward to the fall season after both teams had some great success last year.

Todd Lewis, the bantam Broncs bench boss, was delighted to have 48 players turn out this spring with 17 of those having played for the team last season. That means there is a good measure of depth that Lewis can draw on, a luxury only the big city squads used to have.

“For the first time in our team’s history, we have numerous kids able to play at every position,” said Lewis.

“This will be a huge benefit, as fewer kids will have to play both ways and, therefore, have more gas for the entire game.”

This new-found depth, combined with more than one-third of the squad having game experience, will also give the Broncs an advantage against teams with a smaller bench.

And Lewis plans to use that experience to the full, by enabling those players to bring out the best in the rest by following the team’s motto “building up your brothers.”

“Our returning players have experience and a good foundation of knowledge and skill. That will rub off on the new players and expedites the learning process,” he added.

“The kids help coach each other and every year this effect becomes greater and greater.”

That’s not the only coaching advantage Lewis feels the team has, noting the club now boasts the biggest coaching staff it has ever had to go along with having some former players and other senior Broncs helping out at practices.

“Their expertise, knowledge and passion is a huge benefit and we are already seeing the positive results,” he said.

“I am feeling extremely optimistic, not only due to the number of athletes we have, but due to the strength of their character and their passion. Already, this group looks like a mid-season team in terms of positive routines and habits. They are learning extremely fast and are motivated to continue improving.”

Senior squad

Meanwhile, senior Broncs head coach Cody Baird is positive about the coming season with some new blood in uniform and on the sideline.

Riley Quance, currently the principal in Alix and an assistant coach with the Lacombe Rams, has joined the Broncs coaching staff as he will be one of the new assistant principals at the Ponoka Secondary Campus this fall.

“What Riley brings is a different look that is definitely needed. Having coached at a higher competitive level with the bigger schools, he brings a big picture frame of mind to our team which carries a lot of value with it,” Baird said.

Another factor that gives Baird confidence this year is that 11 of his returning players are just off winning a championship with their spring league midget club, the Battle River Shock, who are the only rural team in the Edmonton-centred Capital District Minor Football Association.

“We have the highest ever number of returning players, plus with that championship, it gives us an even greater level of leadership this season,” he said.

As for spring camp, Baird’s focus is on getting new and returning players into their assigned roles, trying out new positions, setting expectations and seeing who can rise up to the challenges ahead.

The hope is that things will be somewhat solidified by the time the Broncs hit the field in a jamboree on June 8 in Stettler to close out camp.

 

Ponoka’s Emil McMillan wraps up this Drumheller player during one of the mini-games at the bantam jamboree in Lacombe May 25. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Bantam Broncs Marcus Saddleback and Jeremy Wildcat double-team on this tackle of a Drumheller ball carrier in their mini-game at the Lacombe jamboree May 25. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

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