Although the score might suggest otherwise, the Stettler Wildcats say they won with authority last Thursday in posting a 15-9 victory over the host West Central Rebels at Rocky Mountain House.
“We dominated the game, I think, on both sides of the ball, but it certainly wasn’t reflected in the score,” said Wildcats coach Norbert Baharally.
“We weren’t able to finish drives. Defensively, we let them hang around, hang around, and they eventually scored one (touchdown) on us.”
Nonetheless, the Wildcats improved their Central Alberta High School Football League record to 2-1 and moved back into the provincial Tier 3 rankings, earning the No. 9 position in the Football Alberta weekly poll released Monday.
The Rebels dropped to 1-2 and slipped to eighth from fifth in the Tier 4 provincial rankings.
“For sure, certainly it was a game we went in there expecting to win,” said Baharally, also the principal at William E. Hay Composite High School. “A win is a win.”
Braden Nelson and Tyler Stewart scored the Stettler touchdowns and Anton Stewart converted Nelson’s major. Nelson, who ran 65 yards for his TD, finished the game with 158 yards on 20 carries.
All of West Central’s offence came from Chris Soodsma, who kicked a field goal in the first half and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Stettler returns home for a Friday date with the unbeaten Hunting Hills Lightning (2-0) of Red Deer. Game time is 4:30 p.m.
Hunting Hills, ranked third provincially among Tier 2 schools, is coming off a 15-9 victory over its Red Deer neighbours, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders.
“Hunting Hills are defending league champions and ranked (high) in Tier 2 in the province, so that’ll be a tough task for us,” Baharally said.
With an extra day before this week’s game, the Wildcats hope to regain some of their injured players for Friday’s contest.
“I ’m not sure,” Baharally said after Monday’s practice. “After every game, it seems like somebody different is out.”
“At practice today, our starting fullback (Matt Hataley) was out again, missing today. We have a couple of other guys that are still banged up physically, but I think they’ll be back.”
Hataley, who missed Week 2 play with concussion symptoms, returned to action last Thursday but was back on the sidelines this week.
Senior slotback Ricky Armstrong, whose preseason hand injury has kept him out all season, was scheduled to resume full practising Tuesday and might be able to play Friday.
Injured starting quarterback Morgan Loshny remained out of practice Monday, though he dressed as an emergency backup to rookie Stephen Zuk for last week’s game.
“We’re still waiting to hear from the doctor and physiotherapist there,” Baharally said of Loshny, who has been sidelined with a hip injury since the Wildcats’ season opening victory.
“Morgan was dressed as a backup just in case. We have confidence that he can hand the ball off without getting into trouble too much. It would be good to have him back, but Stephen has done a good job for us, for sure.”
IN FOCUS: The Wildcats posed for a team photograph while in Rocky Mountain House last week at the same time as the Portraits of Honour national tour, which had made its Stettler stop a few days earlier.
“We just kind of lucked out,” Baharally said. “We showed up at Rocky and the artist, Dave Sopha, recognized us right away. I went and talked to him and he said, ‘I’d sure love to have you guys take a picture with me in front of the mural.’ We said we could arrange that, because we needed to take a picture anyway.”
“It was a special picture, too.”