It may have been a loss on the scoreboard, but the team are champions in the mind of coach Todd Lewis.
The Ponoka bantam Broncs football club put up a grand fight Nov. 3 in Lacombe, but fell 25-8 to the heavily favoured hometown Raiders in the tier III league final.
The game was the first time in three years the two clubs played each other and it turned out to be a battle no one, except Lewis as the Broncs head coach, had anticipated.
“It was a toe-to-toe battle. Every football game should be like that one,” he said.
“It was a war of attrition on both sides, going back and forth especially in the first half.”
In fact, the Broncs were able to play the bigger and more experienced Lacombe side fairly even in the first quarter with neither team able to make much headway on offense.
The Raiders did manage to wind their way down the field for a major early in the second to make it 8-0, but Ponoka’s defence held its ground and its offense found the adjustments needed to move the football, only to see the first half end.
And it didn’t take long into third quarter for the Broncs to make their breakthrough, with Jordan Young scampering for a 30 plus yard touchdown to tie the score.
Lacombe would find its way to the end zone minutes later to make it 16-8 and then came what could be called the turning point of the contest.
Ponoka made a huge stop on the final play of the third quarter, keeping Lacombe out of the end zone on third and goal from the one yard line. Unfortunately, the Broncs opened the fourth by giving up a safety when the ball carrier was tackled just before he could get out of the end zone. Lacombe would add one more touchdown with less than five minutes to play.
“We didn’t feel like the underdogs and we knew they would key on Jordan, so we planned plays to get him space then used that to open up other players to get the ball,” said Lewis.
“The fact we were able to move the ball against their very aggressive defence and were able to stay strong on defence most of the night was a big positive. It also helped we were able to get in some scouting on Lacombe, so we knew what we were facing.”
Lewis added the Broncs exceeded everyone else’s expectations and turned a lot of heads this season.
“Our organization took a giant step forward this year and has people thinking serious about Ponoka as a football town,” he said.
“Of course we wanted to win, but making the final is the culmination of all the blood, sweat and tears the players and coaches put out this season. Despite of the loss, this team is 100 per cent a success because they left it all out there on the field and, to me, that means they are nothing short of being champions.”