By Tim Bryson, Coach of the WCCHS Cobras
The Willow Creek Composite High School Cobras used a suffocating defence and an efficient run game to score a huge 34-0 win over previously unbeaten W.R. Myers of Taber in high school football action last Thursday, Oct. 5, in Claresholm. It was a game that was billed as the “game of the week” by Football Alberta, and for good reason. The Rebels came in with a 4-0 record and a number three ranking in Tier-4. They had wracked up a couple of big scores in the past two weeks, along with opening season wins against Catholic Central and Drumheller. It was a game that both sides had marked on their calendars all season. It wasn’t long, however, before the Cobras began to establish control of the game.
Myers started the game with an eight-play drive that was stopped on a third-down gamble at midfield. After a Rebel interception, the Cobras got the ball back and the offence went to work, going on an eight-play, 73-yard drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown run by Preston Toth. The key play of the drive was an outstanding 22-yard reception by Chayton Nidd on second and 15. The Cobras offence kept rolling, driving deep into Rebel territory before a penalty and a botched swing pass stalled the drive. After the punt, the Cobra “D” scored, as Aiden Pinkerton stepped in front of a Mike Sawatsky pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown (aka “pic-6”). After another Rebel punt, the Cobras were finally able to mix in a little passing on their way to a seven-yard touchdown run by Coltyn Lungal with only nine seconds left on the clock in the half for a 21-0 halftime lead.
The second half saw the Cobras pick up where they left off, as Logan Currie hit Nic Harder on a 57-yard option pass, leading to a two-yard touchdown run by Nidd. The Cobras couldn’t convert after a Nidd fumble recovery, but after Pinkerton recovered a fumble caused by Toth, the Cobras were able to punch it into the endzone one last time.
This was a game where the yards were going to be tougher to come by than in the previous three games. The Rebels’ defensive backfield was much tighter in their coverage than what we had seen in previous weeks. This time, the young offensive line stepped up “bigly”, by consistently opening up running lanes that allowed the Cobras to grind the clock and the Rebel defence. Ethan Perry and Toth each had six carries for just under 40 yards, while the ground game wracked up 127 yards on 21 carries. Other than the big pass to Harder, everything the Cobras got through the air was of the short variety; it was a game where patience was very much a virtue. Lungal had four receptions, while Harder and Ben Wallace had two catches each.
The tone of this game was, however, set by a defence that gave the Rebels very little room to breathe. Myers was able to go on an eight-play and a 10-play drive early on, as Taber quarterback Sawatsky was able to use his speed to get to the edge of the defence and either run or throw. After a few adjustments involving making sure the pass rush stayed in their lanes and under control, that part of their game dried up as well. Jarrid Baxter led the way with 10 tackles, including four quarterback sacks. Nidd had seven tackles, including two sacks, while Mike Berryman and Tason Perry had five tackles each, as they did an outstanding job on short passes and sweep plays. The most inspiring player of the game had to be Pinkerton. After missing the 2016 season recovering from ACL surgery, “Pink” is making up for lost time. Along with the “pic-6” play and a fumble recovery that he just about scored on, he was getting up from the bottom of every pile.
With the win, the Cobras clinched several things. The trophy awarded at the end of the game is the Jerry Dawson trophy, emblematic of Southern Alberta High School Football League Division “B” supremacy. More importantly, it also clinches a first round playoff bye, and home field advantage for the South Zone Tier-4 final the first week of November. We will play the winner of the Pincher Creek/Myers game. Myers has already beaten Pincher 43-0 this season.
The win also concludes the Cobras’ regular season home schedule. We finish the regular season with a trip to Medicine Hat this Friday to play the Crescent Heights Vikings, followed by a trip to Calgary to play the Canmore Wolverines. The Vikes are undefeated in Tier-3 play heading into their game against “Hat High”, so this will be an excellent test.
I’d also like to express my appreciation to everyone who has come out and supported the team thus far. As I looked down from the booth, all I could see were people filling the stands. You have no idea how much that sort of crowd support means to these lads. See you in early November.