Wildcats ready to claw back on field, coach cautiously optimistic



High school football hits the field for another season this week as the perennial-powerhouse William E. Hay Wildcats of Stettler are again gunning to reach the provincial tier III championship final.

The Wildcats will be striving for the title of Central Alberta High School Football League after getting crushed 57-27 by Sylvan Lake Lakers in last year’s final.

After opening the season on the road in Rocky Mountain House on Sept. 4 at 4:30 pm., the Wildcats hit home field Sept. 10 when they host Hunting Hills.

“In our league, I think we’ll be in the middle of the pack,” said Norbert Baharally, head coach of the Wildcats, entering his 22nd year of coaching football in Stettler.

“But I believe we could go further, depending on how our younger players develop.”

“Provincially, I’m not sure where we’re going to be, “said coach Baharally.

Like last season, he expects Sylvan Lake to be the top contender again this year, along with Notre Dame and Lacombe.

Coach Baharally is confident the Wildcats can compete with Camrose, Wetaskiwin, Lindsay Thurber, Rocky Mountain House and Hunting Hills.

Heading into the season, the Wildcats will give all teams a big run.

“The strengths of our team are at the skilled positions on the offense,” said coach Baharally.

“Some of our fastest players are in the backfield and receiving core.”

“Defensively, I think we’ve got a strong linebacking core and we’ve got some tough defensive linemen as well.”

Losing 13 players who graduated last spring, the Wildcats have also gained an equal number of new players to fill the team, with many of them coming up through Stettler minor football and some totally new at playing the sport.

This year, the offence will be led by quarterback Dustin Daymon who played back-up last year.

“We’ve got a couple of good first-year players on offence,” sald coach Baharally.

Landon Potter has natural instinct as a running back and fullback Matthew Hataley comes off a season as most valuable player in bantam football.

Others to watch for on offence include fullback Josh Meyer, wide receiver Miles Mackay and tailback Jared Steinwand.

Cam O’Neill, Cory Fisher, Steve Strandquist and defensive back Luke Thorne shore up the Wildcat defence.

With four home games, the Wildcats also host Notre Dame on Sept. 14, Wetaskiwin on Oct. 2 at 4 p.m. and Sylvan Lake on Oct. 16 to close the season.