The combination of hard work, preparation and strength of experience are finally beginning to pay off for the long-suffering Ponoka Broncs senior football team.
For the first time in many years, the Broncs received the start they’ve been looking for — capturing a victory in their season opener at home Sept. 7 by a 25-15 count over the Camrose Trojans.
Ponoka stunned Camrose in the first quarter with a pair of touchdowns, both coming on the ground from Jared Bussiere — which included a romp of 105 yards after getting pinned following a Camrose punt.
The Trojans regained some momentum in the second quarter, marching down the field for a touchdown of their own and earning the two-point conversion. That would be followed later by a punt single, leaving Ponoka up 13-9 at half time.
Camrose continued their assault in the third quarter, managing a major score after each side struggled to move the ball on a few possessions. However, a big block on the convert by the Broncs left the home side 15-13 behind.
And that would be the last time Camrose would hit the scoreboard, as Ponoka’s Owen Feragen and Tade Tonneson each hauled in touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to grab the victory.
Camrose had three opportunities to drive the field in the final two minutes, but were forced to punt once and turned the ball over twice on fumbles to hand Ponoka the win.
Coach Cody Baird and the rest of the squad were pleased to start the season right.
“We talked to the boys in the past about starting well and we’ve been in every game, until about half time then it seems we always found a way to lose,” Baird explained.
“It was our job this year to correct that and we did a fantastic job. We made plays, we forced turnovers and really just stood on our heads.”
The real difference this season isn’t so much there being more practices, but that more players are coming in with a great level of experience.
“Now, you can really see the advantage of having a bantam program with the development level of the players. We are starting to now teach strategies instead of skill,” he said, noting that compliment goes to bantam Broncs head coach Todd Lewis.
“I’ve been saying that for a while, but now it is truly showing through on the field.”
While the victory is significant for Baird, there remains some improvements that need to be made.
“You can only see so much in practice, so this first game is where you can see where the team is at, what the highlights are and where there is work needed. Now we can put in the time to improve in those areas to get a full arsenal on offence and defence,” he stated.
That includes a big contest Sept. 13 in Sylvan Lake at 4:30 p.m. — Sylvan defeated Drayton Valley last week — followed by what will be another fierce home game Sept. 21, this time versus Wetaskiwin with kick off set for 4 p.m.