The Stettler Wildcats continued their streak of success last week with a win at home against the Rocky Mountain House Rebels.
The Wildcats pulled off an impressive 28-0 win, holding the Rebels scoreless throughout and delighting a hometown crowd that had gathered for a special evening game on Thursday, Sept. 25.
Coach Guy Neitz said the game was a great opportunity for local parents to see their kids in action, as the regular afternoon games often clash with work schedules.
He also said the team appreciated the efforts of organizers, who held a tailgate party and barbecue, a 50/50 draw and a halftime game for spectators, all to raise money for the school’s football program.
Head coach Norbert Baharally said an out-of-bounds kick by the Wildcats early in the game appeared ominous, giving the Rebels a strong field position.
However, the team’s defense kept the Rebels out of the end zone, a factor that was key to the team’s success, he added.
“I think that really swung the momentum” of the game, said Baharally, also crediting the Wildcats’ offense with moving the ball well at critical points.
Neitz said the Wildcats were missing several senior players who were injured or away, leaving the team to rely on some of its younger members.
“They came through very well,” he said. “For a younger group, that was good on them.”
“As big as they were,” he said, referring to their opponents, “they just weren’t that formidable or experienced.”
The Wildcats’ Austin Rosland made a major contribution, scoring three touchdowns, while Jeremy Kirk also scored a single touchdown in the second quarter.
Garrett Burns completed two converts to add a couple of points to the tally, while Kyle Lawrence followed Kirk’s touchdown with a convert that was good for two points.
Neitz also had praise for the team’s defense, saying, “Any time you can hold a team to zero, you know your team has played extremely well.”
Manager Patty Steen said that 35 businesses had donated or offered support towards Thursday’s event. She credited parents Aurora Berger, Yvette Cassidy and Katie Bainbridge with drumming up support for the team.
She said she was pleased with the turnout, which was thin at first but grew during the first quarter.
Steen added that it was “very sweet to have a win” for the evening game, illuminated by eight portable lights on the field.
Proceeds from the fundraisers will be used to complete the field house and develop the concession area.
The Wildcats are slated to play in Sylvan Lake on Friday, Oct. 3, a game that will likely determine the schedule for the first round of playoffs.
Within the Central Alberta Schools Athletic Association, William E. Hay and Sylvan Lake are battling for second place, while Camrose and Wetaskiwin are expected to finish in first and fourth, respectively.