A fantastic high school football season saw the last door closed with the annual team awards banquet Jan. 31.
The Ponoka Secondary Campus Broncs celebrated the football team’s “best ever” season with a big dinner and the dishing out of several awards alongside further recognizing those that earned league awards.
“We have a lot to celebrate this year,” noted coach Cody Baird, as the club set a new benchmark with four victories this past season and marked another milestone with its first playoff appearance.
Coach Jamieson Blinkhorn summarized the season aptly, “…it was the best season so far. It was awesome to see the team grow and nice to get other teams out of that mentality of, ‘It’s going to be a cakewalk.’”
Four Grade 12 players — Jared Bussiere, Owen Feragen, Tristan Young, Mathew Parent — all of whom have played three seasons with the Broncs were the first to be honoured, as they each received a jersey with their number on it in recognition of their commitment to the program.
The big award winner was Bussiere, presented with the offensive player of year and the team’s most valuable player awards. He also becomes the first player in team history to win the offensive award three times and the only back to back MVP winner. In addition, Bussiere was further recognized for his league all-star honour and winning the league’s special teams player of the year award.
“As a running back, he was second in the league in rushing yards — averaging 120 per game — as well, he was second in receiving and led the league in points scored,” Blinkhorn noted.
“He had huge punt returns to go with a few touchdowns, several tackles as the punter, ran some great fakes and pulled off something I’ve never seen before — scored a touchdown as an offensive player on a blocked field goal.”
For Bussiere, it was all a bit much as he pushed some of the credit to his teammates.
“Based on the players we had and the spring camp, I knew we would be a good team,” he stated, “As a captain, you set the tone, but everyone has to come together for us to succeed.”
Mike Bloomquist, who was named the league’s top defensive player and an all-star, was also handed the Broncs defensive player of the year.
Baird explained teams would avoid sending the ball to him because he was so dominant and consistent wherever he played.
“Anytime we needed a big play, we would send him to do what needed to be done,” he said.
In a bit of a departure, Grade 11 player Erik Mathieu was given the rookie of the year, in part because of his ability to learn the game after not playing in Grade 10.
“He played fullback, on defensive and offensive lines, basically did anything we asked of him,” he stated.
“With the ball, he would get huge yardage and run over people. What we loved was his passion and drive to play.”
Tade Tonneson, who was also a league all-star, was presented the special teams player of the year for his impact on nearly every play in the game. “He could have used a break, but he was just too valuable,” Baird added.
A Grade 10 player — Xavier Strongman — lived up to a nickname ‘the beast’ he earned in bantam and was presented with the lineman of the year award.
“As a defensive end, he was able to torture offensive linemen and quarterbacks. I’m so incredibly proud of what he did and what he will do for us next year,” Baird said.
The final team award — the Darryl Feschuk Passion award — went to Feragen and to Grade 11 Conner Stiles, who was also named a league all-star. Blinkhorn noted that both players brought different things to the various positions they played.
“(Feragen) was always there, working hard and asking to get better,” he added, “Conner, who was our kicker and played both sides of the ball at times, is really talented in all aspects.”
One other player, Jamie Kim, was also recognized as a league all-star.