By Dale Cory
The Ponoka Broncs high school football team will definitely enter the Western Alberta Six-man Football League playoffs in top form.
The Broncs, who lost their first two games of the season to Drayton Valley and Rimbey, have rattled off six-straight wins to finish their regular season schedule.
Ponoka’s latest victim was the Victory Christian Crimson Knights of Edmonton.
VCCK scored the first touchdown of the day — but Ponoka quickly took charge and easily defeated the Crimson Knights 48-13 in a game played in cool conditions Oct. 28 at the Ponoka Composite High School football field.
The win helped the Broncs finish the regular season with a 6-2 record.
“If any team’s plan is to peak at this time of the year, I’d say all around, this was our best game as a team. We took care of the ball on both sides. I’m really proud that we are plateau-ing right now,” said Broncs head coach Scott MacGregor after the victory. “Whoever we face in the playoffs is going to be facing a tough team — because our confidence is high, everyone knows his job, and the guys are believing in one another. I’m really proud of our team — and I can’t wait for our next game. I wish we played tomorrow.”
However, this being the game of football, Broncos’ players will be open to the idea of taking a few days to rest their bruised bones, especially considering the frozen turf they were playing on last week.
But nothing would slow down the Ponoka team on this day.
Trailing 7-0 early in the second quarter, running back Ashton Smith took a hand off from 22 yards out, and cut down the right sideline to the end zone to give the Broncs an 8-7 advantage. It was a lead Ponoka would not relinquish.
Before the half ended, quarterback Zak Louis rambled 48 yards for a major score, allowing Ponoka to take a 16-7 advantage to the dressing room.
Louis found the end zone once again early in the third quarter. Then, with Ponoka facing a third-and-one situation, Scott Pylypow took a handoff, and, just when it appeared he would be stopped at the line, broke through the Victory Christian defence and ran 34 yards to pay dirt.
Ryan Huysmans’ 46-yard run made the score 40-13. Icing on the cake came when linebacker Alex Swanson — by far Ponoka’s top defensive player this season — fell on a fumble in the Crimson Knights end zone late in the game for his first touchdown of the season.
“Alex has a real ability to read what’s going to happen, and has a very aggressive nature. As far as tackling fundamentals go, he’s got that mastered,” said MacGregor. “He’s a quiet leader in the room. I’m proud of the way he’s developed. Not only has he become a great football player, he’s a great citizen. Everyone in the football program is proud of Alex.”
“Heart,” responded Swanson when asked what separated his Broncs from the visiting Crimson Knights. “We gave it our all. Home field advantage helped us out too, having students and parents cheering us on.”
Swanson was in on virtually every tackle. He admits he was more than a tad concerned when the team opened the season with back-to-back losses.
“I wasn’t too confident actually — until we got our first win. But we kept positive. I love these guys,” said Swanson, who listed a few of the key ingredients that brought forth the late-season success. “Heart — trust — good coaching.”
And those attributes could prove to be the main reason Ponoka will provide a serious challenge for the Ruby Cup once playoffs begin.
The top eight teams will play in quarterfinal matches Nov. 10. Semifinal action will go Nov. 19, with the league final Nov. 27 in Calgary.