If there were a tiny possibility that senior Broncs could make it to provincials as they hosted Rocky Mountain House Rebels on Thursday, Oct.22 for the last game of the regular season, it was quickly squandered thanks to a lack of focus on the part of Ponoka boys, helped by a thunderstorm. The result was 34-7 for the visitors.
When the game started under bright sunshine with a light breeze, Broncs defence was doing great, keeping the ball in the Rebels territory, and repeatedly returning the ball to their offensive line after claiming possession either as a result of turnover on downs or recovery of fumbled balls.
But when the Rebels broke through the Broncs’ defence for the first time in the seventh minute of the first quarter, it proved to be an early turning point in the game and Broncs could never regain their posture.
As the bright sunshine quickly gave way to black clouds and a thunderstorm in the middle of the second quarter, the visitors scored another touchdown and the score stood at 14-7 at halftime recess.
The clouds dispersed and the rain stopped just as the third quarter was beginning and when Braeden Korchinski scored a 70-yard rushing touchdown to reduce the gap to a single score, it seemed just a for moment as if Broncs could still remain in the game. But the Rebels didn’t take long to pour cold water on those hopes: In the first possession after the Broncs’ touchdown, the visitors found the hosts’ end zone with almost no opposition, restoring their two-score lead.
After that point Broncs’ both offensive and defensive lines fell into what looked like complete disarray and Rebels scored twice more, only failing to convert after their final touchdown. One factor that played against the Broncs was the considerable number of penalties that were ruled by the referees: from objectionable conduct to offsides, unnecessary roughness to too many men on the field, penalties that cost Broncs lots of yardage, particularly in the second half.
Both offensive coordinator Jamie Blinkhorn and defensive coordinator Cody Baird said Broncs’ key weakness in the game was their lack of focus. Both coaches said the thunderstorm right in the midpoint of the game also made many players further lose their concentration. Baird said defence simply didn’t have the edge to be able to stop Rebels’ offence with determination.
Broncs now have a minimum of one playoff game to play, most likely on home territory against Drayton Valley, the only team they have defeated this season. Details had yet to be announced at press time.
Bantam Broncs turn home with a defeat but heads held high
As for Bantam Broncs, they played their single playoff game in Cochrane on Saturday, Oct. 24 and lost 38-24 despite having played their best game of the whole year.
According to the account of the game given by head coach Todd Lewis, the Broncs even held the lead at halftime with the scoreboard showing 18-8, but after a third touchdown by Jared Bussiere for the Ponoka side, Cochrane boys made adjustments to their game neutralizing the advantages of Broncs’ offensive and defensive lines and scored back to back touchdowns to win the game.
“The Broncs’ play in Cochrane truly was the culmination of a season’s worth of work, effort, and heart,” Lewis said.
“This was, by far, the best game of our season. The kids never gave up, were sportsmen for the entire game, and played with complete heart and grit. While I regret that we couldn’t have came home with a win on the scoreboard, I am proud to say that we came home successful.”