The peewee Panthers saved the day for Stettler football last week when the Wildcats were overwhelmed by injury problems leading to the first defeat of the high school football season while the bantam Cougars struggled and failed to set their offensive pace.
The Panthers handsomely glided to a 24-0 victory over Sylvan Lake Bears on home field as the Wildcats succumbed 30-7 to Hunting Hills in Red Deer and the Cougars to the Springbank Phoenix 12-6.
In Thursday’s game in Red Deer, the Wildcats took to the field with an already weakened starting line-up due to injury and illness.
One player had his appendix removed just the night before the game.
“We could not prepare a game plan that would not require him playing,” said head coach Norbert Baharally.
One player had his collar bone broken while another had to be taken to Red Deer Hospital with severe back pains.
Still the Wildcats tried their best.
“Offensively again we struggled and turned over the ball four times in the first half, our defensive team was on the field in the at least 18 of the 24 minutes of the first half so they were tired, but they still played well,” said Baharally.
“Hunting Hills are a good team and they came very aggressively against us and and we let them handle us in the first half. At the end of the first half it was 23-0 for them but in the second half both teams scored only one touchdown each.”
Baharally said his team would still feel the vacuum left by injured and ill players as they host Lindsay Thurber of Red Deer on Thursday at 4.30 p.m. at the high school football field.
As for the Cougars, the performance of the bantam team left the coaching staff scratching their heads as to how to find the right combination of players that are willing to block for the running backs.
“All successful teams have great offensive linemen. We need to find some linemen or our offense will continue to struggle,” said head coach Mike Roach.
In his analysis of the game, coach Roach said the Phoenix scored within just three minutes of the starting kick-off. With the convert attempt good, The Cougars found themselves 8-0 down early in the game.
“The offense sputtered in the first half and could not get a score,” said Roach.
“In the second half, the offense continued to struggle. However, the defense caused a turnover and the offense got the ball back in great field position. Eventually, Dallas Bosma bulled his way in for a TD.”
But when the convert attempt failed, the hosts maintained their lead and added a field goal and a punt single to complete the game 12-6 ahead.
Austin Peterson had the most yards rushing with 98 in 19 carries followed by 37 yards in 11 carries by Thomas Cassidy.
In defense, Dallas Bosma had five tackles and one fumble recovery in addition to his TD while Morgan Dayman had six tackles, with Josh Weeteringen four tackles and a quarterback sack.
The stars of the weekend, the peewee Panthers were in tip-top shape for their game against the visiting Sylvan Lake Bears.
The two teams locked horns in a defensive battle that kept the ball between the 40 yardlines of both teams for the first ten minutes of the game.
When second quarter started, Panthers’ offense took charge to put on a great show of speed and coordination.
Russel Steen scored the first touchdown for the local boys in the early minutes of the second quarter and with the offense having got the science of scoring, Panthers quickly put two more touchdowns on the scoreboard before half time.
They added another one in the third quarter, allowing the coaches the latitude to try young players and a few passing game plays in the last quarter.
Head coach Gary Sorenson was pleased with the performance of both offensive and defensive teams on Saturday.
“I think the kids finally realized that if they want to play football, they have got to learn to hit,” said Sorenson with reference to the much bolder offensive line.
“Our linemen started blocking up much better, they gave our quarterbacks enough time to throw the ball.”
“We could have scored a few more points but we wanted to have younger players get in the game and gain some experience,” he said.
But Sorenson admitted that they will have to improve their catching game to prevent fumbles.
Russell Steen scored two touchdowns and he was leading in rushing game with 145 yards in eight carries. Timmy Gardner, who also scored two touchdowns had six carries with 99 yards, followed by Brett Ropper in six carries for 25 yards.
Brett Ropper was also a potent force in defense with five tackles. Terrance Burks also had five tackles as did Jordan Bauer, followed by Edward Kim with four tackles.
The Panthers travel to Innisfail on Saturday for their third league game before they get their bye in the following week.