Stettler Wildcats’ rookie Jeremy Kirk (18) tries to fend off the HJ Cody Lakers of Sylvan Lake last Saturday afternoon in Stettler. The Lakers won 22-2 in a game that doubled as a league quarterfinal and provincial qualifier.

Lakers blow past Wildcats in double playoff

An agonizing season for the Stettler Wildcats took a turn toward finality at home last Saturday in a 22-2 loss to the HJ Cody Lakers

An agonizing season for the Stettler Wildcats took a turn toward finality at home last Saturday in a 22-2 loss to the HJ Cody Lakers of Sylvan Lake.

It was a two-edged sword for the Wildcats, because the first-round Central Alberta High School Football League playoff game doubled as a qualifier for Tier 3 provincial playdowns.

On both of those counts, the season is finished for the Wildcats, who host the Lindsay Thurber Raiders of Red Deer in league consolation playoffs at 4 p.m. this Thursday in Stettler.

The Wildcats blanked the Lakers 11-0 in their final regular-season game a week earlier, but it was a different scenario Saturday in windy conditions.

Stettler never got on track in front of a big crowd that included many fans from Sylvan Lake.

Stettler coach Norbert Baharally knew the Sylvan rivals would provide a tougher test in the playoffs — and that they did.

“I told (the Wildcats beforehand) that Sylvan didn’t play all their guys when we saw them last time,” said Baharally, the 25th-year coach. “It was essentially a meaningless game, let’s say, because it had no bearing on the outcome of either division. Whereas us, we were already injury-ridden, we played the guys that we had — that’s what we had to do last week and again this week. We played the guys that we had. We have a lot of guys that are still out (with injuries).

“Going into a game with seven linemen, it’s tough. We just don’t have the depth. It was hard to compete against them today, there’s no doubt.”

One of those injured Wildcats was the towering Christian Young.

“We wanted Christian in the game to tie up (the Lakers’) big No. 67, TJ Sloboda, to try to make sure that he had a wrap on him so that our linebackers would be a little more open to make some plays,” said Baharally, whose Wildcats welcomed the return of a rookie.

“Jeremy Kirk came into the game at halftime. He had an injury all week, he didn’t practise, and he wasn’t expected to play, at all. Somehow, he decided that he wanted to try it. He came back in the second half and played, and made a couple of catches.”

But it was generally a tough day for the Wildcats and in many ways it mirrored their up-and-down season.

The giant Lakers flag blew prominently in the wind during a forgettable finish for the Wildcats, long regarded as the flagship team from William E. Hay Composite High School.

“Well, (the Lakers) have a team,” said a frustrated Baharally. “We don’t have a team this year. And I’ll say that publicly. I told my guys that at halftime. It’s been very disappointing this year as a coaching staff — we don’t have the commitment, we don’t have the pride, we don’t have the desire, and we don’t have the will to come out for practice. But, the day before the game, everybody wants to come out to practice, and then they expect to get in the game. And they expect us to do well.

“We have some talented individual players, but football is a team sport. And unless we get our team committed 100 per cent to be there every practice and to work hard together and develop as a team, you’ll never be a team. And that was evident today.”

The Wildcats had their moments this season and won their division, but they didn’t have the committed horses to be a championship threat.

“We won our league this year, and we were very lucky that we did, considering the amount of participation, or lack of participation, we had at practices,” Baharally said. “It’s been very frustrating as coaches, having only 20 players show up at practice. When you win a game, 11 players show up. And you win a game, and 16 players show up …”

Although last Saturday’s game — with public-address acknowledgment of the senior players — very much seemed like a finale, the Wildcats play again Thursday.

They host Lindsay Thurber in one of the league’s consolation semifinals.

At home last Friday, the Raiders lost 22-13 to the West Central Rebels of Rocky Mountain House. The Rebels advance to face Sylvan Lake in the next playoff round.

Elsewhere, the Lacombe Rams beat the Camrose Trojans 38-18 to earn a semifinal date with the Hunting Hills Lightning of Red Deer. The Lightning pounded the Wetaskiwin Sabres 52-6 last Friday.

Hunting Hills is ranked fourth provincially among Tier 2 schools.

After being slotted at ninth and 10th in the previous couple of weeks, Stettler slipped out of the Tier 3 rankings with the loss to Sylvan Lake, which is ranked seventh in that category.

Rocky Mountain House is ranked eighth among Tier 4-sized schools.

 

Just Posted

Producers losing money on every barrel sold

Price for Western Canadian Oilsands bitumen so low

Castor man killed in collision

Pronounced deceased at scene

Our Town Stettler: An aerial view

Shows a larger picture of evolution of community

Liberals take aim at responsible gun owners

E-petition against Bill C-71 is largest in history of Parliament

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants, police mass in town on Guatemala-Mexico border

Many of the more than 2,000 Hondurans in a migrant caravan trying to wend its way to the United States left spontaneously with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly throw into backpacks.

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Most Read