Stettler Wildcats lost to Sylvan Lake in the league final 33-14 on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 5.
According to Head Coach Norbert Baharally, it was a close game with the score being 21-14 at the end of the third quarter.
“We just ran out of gas as a team. Sylvan was a very physical team and they beat us up physically in the fourth quarter,” said Baharally. “We sustained a few more injuries that will more than likely keep a few more of our players out for our next game.”
Assistant Coach Guy Neitz felt that the coaching staff were certainly disappointed with the outcome of the game even though they were happy with the effort and determination the players put in.
“We’ve had a great season so far this year with a lot of improvement over last year and a great core of talented young players,” Neitz said. “We were down 21-14 going into the fourth quarter, but we just didn’t have enough left in the tank to overcome a big physical team that played a great game. We had a bit of a spark on offence half way through the fourth quarter, but three penalties in a row which took away first downs and left us with a third down and 35 to go ended any momentum that we could muster.”
With a record of seven wins and one loss, the Wildcats coaching staff is pleased with how the team has come together.
“It was just unfortunate that for the second year in a row we ended up on the losing side with the championship game and to the same team, Sylvan Lake,” Baharally added. “Our team has a lot to be proud of this year, not just because of our win-loss record but because of the way we did this. All of our players contributed this year, our rookie players as well as our third year veterans.”
Baharally said that they also had some crucial injuries that the team has been fighting all year long.
“There wasn’t a game that we played this year where we had all of our starters healthy and in the lineup,” he said.
The Wildcats will now play in the provincial playoffs starting on Saturday, Nov. 12, facing Ardrossan Bisons, which are the No. 3 ranked Tier IV team in the province.
“Our guys should be happy that they get a chance to qualify and play for a provincial title now,” added Baharally. “Only 32 teams qualify for these championships – eight at each tier – and we are one of them. It is now do-or-die time, you win and you move on, you lose and your season is over.”
Wildcats will play Ardrossan Bisons at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Foote Field in Edmonton.