By Emily Jaycox For the Independent
The Wm. E. Hay Wildcats football team won their regional semi-final matchup against the Ardrossan Bisons 31-14 Nov. 10 in Sherwood Park.
The win guarantees them at least a bronze medal finish and brings them one step closer to the provincial Tier Four title.
“I’m really proud of the boys,” said head Coach Norbert Baharally.
Due to proximity, the second-ranked team, Stettler, and third-ranked, Ardrossan, met in the quarter finals. The Wildcats were ready for a battle with the 2015 provincial champs, and stepped up to the challenge.
This game was the team’s best of the year and every week they are raising the bar, says Baharally.
The offensive line was “outstanding,” creating holes for the running back and had a strong running game, with about 350 yards rushing, says Baharally.
“We were really hard to stop today.”
The Cats’ defence also brought their A game, holding the Bisons to two touchdowns in the game.
They got two or three safeties from the Bisons, and stopped them at key times, consistently getting the ball back to Stettler’s offence, says Baharally.
“Everybody contributed to this win, for sure.”
The Wildcats were the first to score, with a touchdown by quarterback Carson Neitz.
The Wildcats scored a two-point convert and Liam McQuay scored a touchdown, bringing the score to 15-7 by halftime.
The first half was good, but the Wildcats controlled the game better in the second half, says Baharally.
“We dominated the rest of the game.”
Gavin McQuay ran in a touchdown and Steele Nichols kicked a field goal to finish the game.
One of the team’s captains, a third-year player, took a helmet to the back, early in the first quarter, reigniting a previous back injury.
Bahrally hopes he will be able to play next week.
It was a physical game, with many bumps and bruises, but Baharally anticipates players will be back and ready for practice this week.
Next, the Wildcats will face the St. Paul Lions in the Northern Alberta finals on Saturday Nov. 17 in St. Paul.
The Wildcats haven’t played the Lions in a few years and they don’t have any video on this upcoming opponent.
“We’re going in a bit blind.”
The Lions, ranked in ninth place, won their semi-final against the Sexsmith Sabres 39-13.
To prepare, the Wildcats will be focusing on fine-tuning their offence, getting their timing down better and working on the execution of some of their newer plays.