By Dale Cory
On this day, Nicolson had them chase-ing him all over the place.
In six-man football, with all that open field to cover, making the initial tackle is vital for success.
The Ponoka Broncs found that out first-hand Sept. 22 on a warm and sunny day at Ponoka Composite High School.
While they had opportunities to make the stop at the line, the Broncs failed to halt elusive Rimbey running back Chase Nicolson, who busted numerous tackles and took advantage of the resulting open field to score three touchdowns, leading the Spartans to a 62-39 Western Alberta Six-man Football League victory over the Broncs.
“I challenged our offensive line and our defensive line this week because we’re usually out-sized in Ponoka,” stressed Spartans head coach Bill Bramfield after the win. “I think they made the difference. I think the victory can be attributed to the offensive and defensive line’s hard work.”
Rimbey improved to 3-0 with the victory, while Ponoka fell to 0-2. The defending league-champion Spartans definitely appeared to be firing on all cylinders as they approach the midway point of the eight-game schedule.
“Rimbey was the league champion last year. I think we dominated as far as possession, but they were really quick offensively to score early, which is frustrating, but we established our run game today, which I’m proud of,” said Ponoka head coach Scott MacGregor. “I’m happy overall. I don’t think the score indicates how close the game was. But Rimbey is a good team. You can’t snooze at all with them, because they will hurt you.”
And one of those guys who put the hurt on Ponoka was Nicolson.
With Ponoka leading 8-1 after a Zach Lewis touchdown run, Nicolson took charge of the game midway through the opening quarter with a pair of long runs for touchdowns. Broncs defenders had chances to haul down Nicolson, but he eluded everyone on his way to the end zone.
In this back-and-forth game, at least until the final 15 minutes, Ponoka’s Lewis scored on runs of two and 47-yards early in the second quarter to put the hometown Broncs up 24-17.
Back came the Spartans, who took over the lead for good when Riley Properzi caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, and giant receiver Spencer St. Denis hauled in a 30-yard touchdown reception to give Rimbey a 33-24 lead at the half.
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter to keep fans on the edge of their seat.
Scott Pylypow’s major score got Ponoka within a point, but a Rimbey touchdown regained the Spartans’ nine-point lead.
Amara Fofanah had fans jumping up and down in celebration when he scampered 100-yards on a kick return to get Ponoka to within three points, but the Spartans scored three unanswered touchdowns to put the game away.
Nicolson scored one of those majors on a nice run, and finished the day putting 18 points on the board.
“Chase is very athletic — a tough, cowboy-like player,” says Bramfield, who witnessed Nicolson’s best effort of the year against Ponoka. “He can run like the wind, and he makes those extra yards too He’s one of our key players.”
The Broncs, who suffered a season-opening 42-24 loss to Drayton Valley, received some great tackling once again from Alex Swanson on defence, and quarterback/running back Zach Lewis, who matched Nicolson by finishing the day with three major scores.
MacGregor knows improvement is needed for his team to hit the win column.
“I think the level of concentration and our focus needs to be improved. At different situations in a game, and when a play is magnified, sometimes your nerves can get the better of you,” says MacGregor. “We just need one or two of our leaders to step up and lead in that aspect of the game, and I believe the rest of the players are going to follow.”
The Broncs return to action Oct. 1 in Hinton against the Wolfpack, and will host the Caroline Cougars Friday, Oct. 8 at PCHS.