Playoff season starts for football teams, first games this weekend

Running ahead - Teron Garbutt

Running ahead - Teron Garbutt

All three of Stettler’s football teams are scheduled to play their first playoff games this week following a weekend when only the peewee Panthers emerged victorious.

Wm. E Hay’s Wildcats lost to Camrose 49-14 at home on Friday, Oct. 22 in a game which could well have gone the other way, and the next day, the bantam Cougars lost in Lacombe 31-0 and the panthers returned from Wetaskiwin with a 19-0 win, both in away games.

In Friday’s game, the decisive moment of the game just two minutes from halftime, when Joey Standage pushed deep into Camrose Trojans territory after an interception around the 30 yardline of the Wildcats’ half of the field. At the moment the score was tied 14-14.

After a first down within Trojans 20 yardline, a 10-yard penalty against the visiting Trojans brought the Wildcats offense within two meters of the golden line. But the Wildcats offense wasted both the second and the third downs handing the ball back to Trojans, who never had to look back after that moment.

Wildcats’ head coach Norbert Baharally said after that opportunity was missed, as his team got more tired and more injuries were suffered, “the whole team gave up.”

In their first playoff game, the Wildcats now play Hunting Hills, a team which has been undefeated so far.

“It is going to be a big challenge but if they make more mistakes than we do and if we play well against them, we may be able to win,” said Baharally.

If they lose, the Wildcats will start the provincial Tier 3 playoff rounds on Nov. 13.

The bantam Cougars faced Lacombe Raiders in the quarter-final match up.

“The Cougars knew they would have to play mistake free football in order to win, but they got off to a terrible start,” said head coach Mike Roach.

According to the account of the game given by coach Roach, the Cougars lost control of the ball several times through the game in costly turnovers, which the Raiders used to their benefit to score touchdowns in the first half.

“The second half was scoreless. Neither team could do much offensively,” said Roach.

“Stetttler continued to play poorly – penalties and fumbles took away any momentum they might have had.”

Stephen Zuk was good on four of six passes for 65 yards, and had one interception. The leading receivers were Austin Peterson (20 yards on two catches) and Justin Fleischhacker (35 yards on one catch). The leading rushers were Nicholas Baharally and Josh Weeteringen ( each had 26 yards), Austin Peterson with 20 yards and Jordan McCallum with 16 yards.

The Cougars’ loss drops them into the Tier 3 semi-final. They will now play Lindsay Thurber in Red Deer on Saturday, Oct. 30.

“Saturday’s game is a must win situation. A loss would mean the end of the Cougar season,” said Roach.

The peewee Panthers, for their part, did exactly what their coaches told them to do.

“I don’t want any points against us,” defensive coach Zeke Ryan told his players and the game ended 19-0 when the Panthers defense managed the stop Wetaskiwin Wildcats just on two yardline in the last quarter.

Tim Gardner and Russel Steen were again the main engines of the offense with each one scoring a touchdown on long rushes. Gardner had two carries for 77 yards including the 68-yard touchdown run, and Steen had 49, including the 45-yard touchdown rush. Steen also had a passing touchdown after receiving a 28-yard pass.

Kyle Lawrence improved as a quarterback with four pass completions for a total of 54 yards and and four carries for 23 yards.

In defense, Terrance Burks had eight tackles with Brett Roper, Hunter Berger and Jordan Bauer having each five tackles.

The Panthers now face Olds on Saturday, Oct. 30 at the Wm. E Hay football field at a time yet to be announced for their first playoff game.