There is a positive vibe running through both football camps in Ponoka on the cusp of a new season.
The bantam Broncs and the Ponoka Secondary Campus Broncs have been busy the past two weeks preparing for the 2017 season, which kicks off for both this week.
For the high school team, head coach Cody Baird has been busy finalizing his roster numbers, something that is always a challenge when the season begins just days after school opens.
“There are a few players we are still expecting, but I think we are in a far better position than in some of the previous years,” he said.
“The numbers we have seen out to practice are good, so I think we are off to a better start this year.”
Baird knows his club is in for an uphill battle, but believes the Broncs can do nothing but improve.
“We have a number of returning players and a couple of new players. Although, what is going to really help us progress are the bantam players that have graduated up to the high school level,” he said.
“Those players have the fundamentals, physically and mentally, so we can focus on strategic principles and advanced plays. As well, those players benefit from playing with a similar defensive and offensive playbook at the bantam level, since we use a hybrid of what they run.”
He explained the only difference is the high school club utilizes their offensive backfield in different ways.
The Broncs start the season on the road Sept. 8 in Sylvan Lake with the team’s home opener on Sept. 21 (game time 4:30 p.m.) against Stettler.
For bantam Broncs’ bench boss Todd Lewis, a new season doesn’t change much for him.
“My expectations for this season are no different than any other season. Through football, the players will improve as athletes and individuals,” he explained.
“They will be responsible and accountable for their actions, challenge themselves and each other and, most importantly, lift their brothers. If the players consistently grow — as athletes and citizens — and learn how to fully support one another, our season will be a successful one.”
The club has a small group of returning players, just 13 out of 32, but following Lewis’ philosophy, finding ways to win is secondary.
“My goals for this season are to keep teaching the basic fundamentals and football knowledge. The players should ‘graduate’ from the team with a solid grasp of football, its rules and various skills. Most importantly, the bantam team aims to foster passion, commitment and brotherhood in its athletes. These qualities lead to success not only in football, but life in general.”
Lewis also wanted to thank the local community for its support.
“For my last three years with the team, I have seen countless Ponoka businesses sponsor the team and numerous individuals volunteer their time. Without their help, less kids would have the opportunity to play,” he added.
The bantam team is still looking for players, so if any Grade 7 to 9 students want to come out, they should call Lewis at (403) 704-5965 or email him at email@example.com.