Cobras defeat Cold Lake to win second provincial title

By Tim Bryson, Coach of the WCCHS Cobras
In perhaps the most dominant performance in a dominant season, the Willow Creek Composite High School Cobras beat the Cold Lake Royals 42-0 to win their second provincial Tier-4 championship in the 21 years since football returned to the school and the first since 2006.
This team has been on a historic role since losing their season opener to Medicine Hat High back in September. The recipe all season has been a versatile offence which made it difficult, if not impossible, for teams to consistently shut us down, along with a swarming, ball hawking defence that never allowed teams to sustain drives at any point in the year. That recipe was followed to a tee on Saturday, Nov. 25.
The Cobras took the opening kickoff and drove 78 yards for the opening score on a five-yard run by Coltyn Lungal. Right off the mark, quarterback Robbie Hoffman was in a groove, as he was able to consistently find open receivers. The ensuing drive for Cold Lake looked promising, but a field goal was negated by a penalty and the Royals chose to punt and pinned the Cobras back at their own 11-yard line. The offence went on a massive 99-yard drive that ate up the rest of the first quarter and over two minutes of the second, before Hoffman hit Nic Harder on a short fade route and a 13-0 lead. After a Ben Wallace interception set the Cobras up in great field position, Hoffman hit Harder on the same type of deep fade route from 14 yards out to stretch the lead to 20-0.
On the very next drive, Chayton Nidd ran in from 31 yards out on a perfectly executed reverse to stretch the lead to 27-0. On the ensuing kickoff, the Royals fumbled a short kick that got caught in the wind, setting up the Cobras yet again. Logan Currie finished off the second quarter onslaught with a one-yard quarterback keeper to stretch the lead to 34-0 at the half.
The second half was all about focus and execution. Preston Toth added a single point on an attempted “coffin corner” punt, before scoring on a four-yard run at the end of the third quarter to stretch the lead to 42-0.
The offence showed incredible balance, as eight players had receptions and six had rushing attempts. Controlling the whole show was Hoffman, who completed 11 of his first 12 passes on route to an outstanding 21 of 26 pass completions for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Given the stage, this was one of the greatest performances by a Cobra quarterback ever.
Harder led the receiving core with five receptions for 76 yards, as he was able to consistently get behind the Cold Lake secondary on his patented fade route. Ethan Perry and Toth had four receptions each, while Nick Anderson, Nidd, Currie and Lungal each had two receptions. Toth paced a balanced running game, with 69 yards on nine carries, leading a run game that churned out 165 on 25 carries. The offensive total of 389 yards, along with 18 first downs, was the best performance in a month.
After the first Cold Lake drive, the Cobras made some small adjustments in their rush angles to keep Royals quarterback Braeden Wicht, who had a skill set similar to Myers QB Mike Sawatsky, in the pocket and the Royal offence was dead in the water. The Cobras held the Royals to 90 yards offence and just seven first downs, allowing a mere five completions on 17 pass attempts for 37 yards and two more interceptions, by Wallace and Lungal (raising the team total to 24, against just two passing touchdowns allowed).
The 10-game win streak saw the Cobras play some of the best all-round football in team history. We recorded five shutouts and scored almost as many points on defence as we gave up. Offensive coordinator Kelly Starling proved to be a master at adjusting to whatever opposing defences were trying to, while defensive coordinator Todd Lybbert’s exotic mix of blitzes kept offences guessing all season. The best linebacker/secondary coverage group in the 21-year history rightfully called themselves the “no-fly zone”. Their ability to operate several different coverage packages meant offences could never get totally comfortable.
There was so much help behind the scenes as well. The work done by Starling and Dean Baxter in getting the field cleaned off after the repeated snow falls of November was massive; the reaction of the other teams when they saw our field was priceless. The fan support was amazing all year, even after the weather went bad. Coach Starling was the central organizer in the team breakfasts for the first two rounds of provincial playoffs, while Russ Anderson hosted team dinners the night before the last two games that were equal parts carb-loading and team building. The sense of cohesiveness in this group was like none other I can recall. It made for memories that will last a lifetime.