The Ponoka Bantam Broncs have a lot to be proud of.
Going from barely being able to scrape a team together in August with seven mainly rookie players, as the practices went on, the team’s numbers, and skills, grew.
“These kids started completely green and finished (the season) looking like real football players,” said head coach Todd Lewis. “Not only did they become competent and capable on the field, they learned how to carry themselves like real football players.”
Lewis cites an incredible work ethic with his players making the season a success.
The players attended four practices a week, watched game film on their own time, worked independently and “were always positive,” according to Lewis.
“The culture they developed was one of inclusion, brotherhood, and joy,” said Lewis.
“While these kids developed as players throughout the season, they were simultaneously developing as young men. I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
By the conclusion of the season in November, the Bantam Broncs’ roster had grown to 27 players: one Grade 6, nine Grade 7, nine Grade 8 and eight Grade 9 players.
Due to the hard work and development of the players, the Broncs ended up taking bronze in their division and with the youth entering the program in the younger grades, the future looks bright for the program.
“We have 18 players going into Grades 8 and 9, all of whom developed into great football players this year,” said Lewis.
“We have never had that many returning players going into a season before, and it’s going to be a huge leg up for the program.”
Team co-captain Jack Kroening, a third-year Bantam player, agreed with his coach.
“It was pretty good this year,” said Kroening.
“The Grade 8s were really stepping up, and the Grade 9s really improved since the start of the season.”
Thanks to the efforts put in by the team on the field, and off, Kroening and his co-captain, Kadyn Reinbold, were able to really assist the coach this season.
“I felt more like a coach,” said Reinbold.
“We helped coach so he would have way less stress.”
Lewis, Kroening, and Reinbold would like to bring the team together at least once more this fall to hold their annual awards banquet and celebrate the team’s successes, but unfortunately, with the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, the team has still been trying to navigate the current restrictions.
Still, Lewis is optimistic that something will be brought about.
“We will find a way so that the team can reunite and properly celebrate a successful 2021 season,” said Lewis.
Meanwhile, looking to the 2022 season, the Ponoka Broncs will be holding weekly dryland training sessions for anyone interested in playing next year, beginning Nov. 25, from 3:45 to 5:515 p.m. at the Royal Air Cadets building gym.
There is no cost to attend these sessions, however, a non-perishable item for the food bank is encouraged, and proper gym attire, running shoes, and water bottles are a must.