It was going to be a mountain to climb regardless and the bantam Broncs getting bitten by injuries didn’t help.
Ponoka’s bantam Broncs football club hosted the league’s top team, the Strathmore Badgers, on Sept. 29 and became yet another victim to the undefeated visitors by a score of 38-0.
Now while the final score looks bad, it certainly wasn’t indicative of how much of the game was.
The Broncs were down just 8-0 after an extremely defensive first half, with both clubs bending to each other’s offence, but not completely breaking down.
It wasn’t until about halfway through the third quarter when Strathmore started to run away with the game, owing to some long touchdown runs on a couple of missed assignments.
“They were definitely bigger, but we were right there with them in terms of power,” explained Broncs head coach Todd Lewis.
“They are definitely very physical and the hardest hitting team we’ve come against.”
Aside from the presence of key running back and defensive back Jordan Young and quarterback Owen Vandermeer — both of whom have lead the club all season — Lewis continues to be pleased with the work done by Grade 8 Emil McMillan on either side of the football.
McMillan had a number of tackles on defence to go along with a couple of catches on offence — including one that bounced off her hands a couple of times before she could grasp it, all with a Strathmore defender draped all over her.
“She is scary and a pure athlete,” Lewis said. “Every play she is dynamite and I actually was getting tired of yelling ‘Good job’ at her.”
Injuries partway through the third quarter and early in the fourth for the Broncs was a factor in seeing the score run up the way it was — with Young leaving the game with an apparent lower body injury and a couple linebackers and defensive linemen going down in the second half.
“There was a bit of confusion in the second half, since we had to start throwing players into spots. So, they weren’t in the positions they were supposed to be and that led to some missed assignments. This is a team sport and 12 players need to perform, so one miss can result in big plays.”
He added that those kind of wrinkles are a rather easy fix, all of which can be ironed out by going over film, so Lewis isn’t too worried.
One final regular season contest remains for the Broncs following a league-wide bye during Thanksgiving — a home date with Springbank Oct. 13 (time TBA). The playoffs kick-off the following week as the clubs are split into three pools.
A win would not only put Ponoka into the B pool for the first time in their existence, but would also lift them into fifth spot in the league overall. That would put them at the top of their pool and home field advantage for their playoff run.