The sun shone through on the bantam Broncs in what was a defensive, nail-biting victory for the home side.
Ponoka’s bantam football club edged out Red Deer’s Hunting Hills Lightning 14-12 on Oct. 27 in the B pool semi-final, giving Ponoka a shot at the championship this coming Saturday (Nov. 3) versus the Raiders in Lacombe.
The Broncs’ high-powered offence took over early, driving 65 yards in over four minutes to grab the early lead on the club’s first possession of the game. Most of the yards came courtesy of Jordan Young, then finally punctuated by a Parker Rice three-yard plunge for the major score. Young booted the convert to make it 8-0 Broncs.
The rest of the first half was all defence, with each side grabbing a couple of turnovers, but failing to make any headway on the scoreboard.
Most of the third quarter wasn’t much different, until Hunting Hills was able to make something big out of nothing. With just under five minutes to go in the quarter, the Lightning quarterback twice escaped the grasp of the Broncs’ defence before scrambling and finding a wide open receiver for a long touchdown pass and run play. A bobbled snap resulted in a failed conversion attempt and left the Broncs up 8-6 heading into the final 12 minutes of play.
Ponoka’s offence once again charged down the field early in the fourth and this time is was a four yard jaunt into the end zone a minute and half in by Josh Lewis. This time however, the covert was no good.
That made it 14-8 for the Broncs and left Hunting Hills with some life yet to cling on to.
And only four minutes later, that tiny bit of hope turned to grand optimism after the Lightning were able to punch the ball in for their second touchdown of the day. The light dimmed slightly though as they missed the convert and left the Broncs with a two-point cushion.
The contest would then come down to the final minute, after a pair of costly penalties provided Hunting Hills with an opportunity to push deep into Ponoka territory.
However, a big defensive stop — led by Broncs lineman Jackson Doornewaard, who had several tackles for a loss and a pair of sacks on the day — forced a turnover on downs, which gave Ponoka the ability to run out the clock for the win.
Off the charts is how Broncs head coach Todd Lewis described his feelings about the victory, though he did hand a few credits off to the opposition.
“Our team followed our philosophy today more than any other time in the history of our program. I’m so proud of them. And because of that we were successful and put ourselves in a position to win the football game,” he stated.
“Hunting Hills is a well-coached, well-run team. After halftime, they began to pass some and got some yardage on us, so props to them for that.”
Lewis spoke about the defence and Doornewaard in this game.
“I usually leave my accolades for the end of the game, I had to give Jackson some props at half time because I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more dominant lineman demonstration at any level of football. He led our defence today,” he said.
Next on the horizon are the Lacombe Raiders, one of the top bantam programs in central Alberta, in the B pool championship game set for Nov. 3 in Lacombe. Kick off under the lights at ME Global Athletic Park is slated for 7:30 p.m.
For Lewis, that means having to take their game up yet another notch.
“We are going to have a full week of practice, go over our film, celebrate our successes and more importantly evaluate where we need to improve,” he noted.