A season of firsts has come to an end.
The Ponoka bantam Broncs football club were edged out in the Central Football League C division semi-final by Strathmore 9-8 in a game dominated by defence.
The Oct. 28 playoff game was the first-ever for the Broncs. Scoring was at a premium all game long.
Strathmore took a 2-0 lead early in the second quarter courtesy of a safety touch after sacking a Broncs player in their own end zone.
The visitors added a single midway through the third quarter after sending a punt through the Ponoka end zone after kicking from inside the Broncs 10-yard line. Strathmore increased the lead three minutes into the final quarter via an 18-yard touchdown romp, but the convert was blocked.
After not being able to scrimmage inside the Strathmore half of the field for nearly all of the opening two quarters, the Broncs’ offence was able to eventually get on track in the second half. The club was able to move the ball via a combination of Josh Rust and Anthony Buffalo running the ball.
However, it took until late in the game for Ponoka to generate a lengthy drive down the field, culminating in a four-yard touchdown pass. The major score came with just over 50 seconds remaining — with Emery Young making good on the convert to put them within a point — and breathed some life into the Broncs chance of booking a spot in final.
There was elation on the Broncs’ bench and in stands after the resulting kickoff was recovered by the Broncs, only to be deflated when a penalty flag was thrown on the play for illegally touching the ball before it went the minimum 10 yards.
That gave the ball over to Strathmore who was able to run out the clock for the victory.
Broncs head coach Todd Lewis was impressed with his club. “They should be nothing but proud,” he said after the game.
Lewis admitted his offence dug themselves too big of a hole to climb out of before they found a way to move the ball on what he described as the biggest defence the club has seen this season.
“Our defence showed unbelievable tenacity with the flow and pursuit of the ball. They also faced so much adversity and not once did they get down,” said Lewis.
With the success the bantam Broncs had, Lewis feels the entire program has taken a step forward on the field and off it.
“We have a really big roster and tons of young kids including many Grade 7s. I fully expect this team to keep improving, but these kids need to come back and we need new kids to come support the program,” he added.