Cougars league champions

Stettler’s Panthers won the Central Football League championship beating Lacombe Raiders 20-8 in an exciting game and advanced to the provincial semi-finals to maintain their march to the provincial title.

Celebrating the victory - The Cougars had to pose for cameras without their trophy and medals after they won the championship game as there was no official from the Central Alberta Minor Football Association to present them. But medals or no medals

Celebrating the victory - The Cougars had to pose for cameras without their trophy and medals after they won the championship game as there was no official from the Central Alberta Minor Football Association to present them. But medals or no medals

Stettler’s Panthers won the Central Football League championship beating Lacombe Raiders 20-8 in an exciting game and advanced to the provincial semi-finals to maintain their march to the provincial title.

The festive mood at the end of the game was soured when it became clear that no official of the Alberta Minor Football Association had arrived to present the trophy and medals to the teams.

“It was a nerve-racking game for the coaches, the players and the fans,“ said Panthers’ head coach Mike Roach.

“It turned out to be a hard-fought battle as the coaches expected. The defenses for both teams kept the offenses off balance all day long. Stettler’s receivers had a particularly tough day trying to hang on to the ball.”

Coach Mike Roach summarized the game as follows:

“In a game played in almost ideal weather conditions, it looked like Stettler was the first to score when Tyler Stewart took a Raider punt into the end zone for a score, but the play was called back on a penalty. The Cougars finally got the first score of the game on a defensive play: Midway through the second quarter, Parker Cassidy picked off a Lacombe shovel pass and dashed 40 yards into the end zone for a TD. Nicholas Baharally converted and the Cougars lead 8 – 0.

On the next offensive series for the Raiders, Micheal Lalonde caused a fumble and Bryce Fisher recovered. The Cougar offense stalled on their drive and turned the ball over. Lacombe started to move the ball into the Cougar half of the field, but that drive stalled and the quarterback fumbled the ball on a third down attempt. Stettler took over and drove the ball down near the Raider goal line. With 17 seconds left in the first half, Morgan Loshny broke free for a 21-yard touchdown strike. The convert was missed and Stettler lead 14 – 0 at half time.

Lacombe received the kick off to open the second half. They controlled the ball and drove the Cougar defense back until Carter Waldbauer scored a TD on a 4-yard run. Judah Knip was good on the convert and the score was 14 – 8. On the last play of the third quarter, Braden Nelson broke free for a 49-yard run to score the Cougar’s third touchdown. The convert was missed and Stettler lead 20 – 8. The fourth quarter was a seesaw battle, but neither team could score, but Lacombe seemed to be carrying the play. Finally, when it seemed the Raiders were on the verge of scoring again, the Cougar defense stopped the drive.”

Coach Roach said Nicholas Baharally, Mark Meyer, Tyler Stewart, Ryan Greene, Theren Churchill, Parker Cassidy, Brandon Wintringham, Micheal Lalonde, Devon Woelk, Mark Forrester and Bryce Fisher played a great game which was a battle between defense lines of both teams.

“This game was the most challenging one of the season. Winning the game was a great feeling but Tyler Greiner will be out for the rest of the season with a broken arm, and he will be missed,” said Roach.

The Cougars will host the St. Albert Fury, the Tier 2 champions from the Capital District Minor Football Association on Saturday, Nov.15 at 1 p.m.

On Thursday night, eight Cougar players will be attending the league all-star banquet in Innisfail. Braden Nelson, Morgan Loshny, Parker Cassidy, Tyler Stewart, Riley Anderson, Micheal Lalonde, Mark Forrester and Bryce Fisher will be attending.