The bantam Broncs MVP was Grade 9 player Jordan Young who poses here Jan. 9 with coach Todd Lewis during the team’s awards night. Young is moving up to the senior team next season. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

Ponoka’s bantam Broncs football players recognized at awards banquet

The awards banquet highlighted a season of accomplishments including a season with many wins

Ponoka’s bantam Broncs football squad faced its most winningest season last year and the team celebrated its accomplishments during its awards evening.

Held Jan. 9 at Ponoka Secondary Campus, for coaches the evening was a way to recognize an incredible year with strong wins and some league trophies as well.

Coach Todd Lewis spoke to the team and families and it was clear there was a solid team spirit and unity. He started warming up to it right away by asking his team about the three core messages.

Lifting your brother (or sister) has been Lewis’ mantra from the get-go and it’s clear players agree. The other two key messages: playing with heart and always improving are just as important as the first.

“While we’ve had…our most successful season yet, that’s a symptom of those three things,” stated Todd.

When asked about how this season looked, Lewis pointed out that coaches knew there was going to be some learning. “…but it was surprising to what degree our players learned.”

“They consistently made good choices in games that showed their developing football IQ,” he stated.

Another plus was having athletes in the program for a few years.

This season’s highlight reel was so long it took several background songs get through and it shows just how much the players understand the game. From quick passes, tackles and touchdowns, the bantam Broncs were a tough team, earning them a game against Lacombe in the league final.

This was also the year where the team had a full coaches roster with assistant coaches giving Lewis a chance to focus on offence and training. The bantam squad had more times for practice and reviewing the tapes to learn from their games.

“We were a mentally tough team this year, and that resilience and toughness translates to every facet of play,” explained Lewis.

“This attitude perpetuates itself, resulting in a team that is resilient and solid.”

There is quite a large number of players in Grade 9 moving up from the bantam team and while that will be a loss, Lewis is excited for next season.

“We have an excellent group of Grade 7s and 8s returning for next season. With each of those players leading the 2019 team, we can hit the ground running – most players will already know and understand basic skills and football knowledge,” said Lewis.

There were quite a few players to recognize this year but the team’s MVP award went to Jordan Young who’s readying himself for senior Broncs football. He’s been playing since Grade 6.

Young said with the full accompaniment of coaches, the team was really able to learn and grow. Plus the coaching staff was keen to work with the players.

“Most of our cool, trick plays were from the kids and me mentioning ideas,” said Jordan.

The team really became a close, family-like experience; one reason why Jordan was proud to receive the league’s team sportsmanship award. “We’re out there to play football, not yap our mouths.”

He said the buy-in from the team was high. The team was proud to make good plays and show coaches they had what it takes to do a good job.

Jordan, who played linebacker, kick/punt returner, running back and kicker said the last game against Lacombe was a highlight.

“It was a good season, great coaching (and) really organized,” said Young.

This year’s awards:

• Team MVP: Jordan Young

• Defense MVP: Emily McMillan

• Offense MVP: Owen Vandermeer

• Special Teams MVP: Parker Rice

• Rookie of the Year: Josh Lewis

• Leadership: Keenan Soosay

• Broncs Pride Award: Nathan Sluggett

• Most Improved: Jackson Doornewaard

• Lineman of the Year: Kadan Thomason

• “Gatoraid” Player of the Year: Jake Sheppard

• Unsung Hero: Nevin Thompson

• Versatility Player of the Year: Parker Rice

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Ponoka’s bantam Broncs pose Jan. 9 during the team’s awards banquet. The big awards night highlighted the many accomplishments of the team’s most winningest season. Photo by Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye

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