Braden Nelson of the Stettler Wildcats powers his way to one of his three touchdowns Saturday as the Wildcats topped the Sylvan Lake Lakers 57-28 in Stettler.

Wildcats sideline Lakers en route to provincials

Nelson scores three touchdowns as Stettler advances to quarter-final

The Sylvan Lake Lakers were gaining momentum in the second quarter, fresh off back-to-back touchdowns that had cut the Stettler Wildcats’ lead to 21-15.

There was still a hush on the Stettler sidelines, and a buzz on the Sylvan side, when Wildcats senior running back Braden (Bob) Nelson saw an inch — and took a mile.

On the kickoff return, he ran 107 yards for a game-breaking touchdown that restored Stettler’s confidence and accented a season-saving 57-28 victory.

“I wasn’t even thinking they were going to kick it to me,” Nelson said. “I thought they were going to keep it away from me. But it went down the middle. It just went in between me and Austin (Cherewko), the other returner, and I just ran back and grabbed it, and I was thinking, ‘Get as far upfield as I possibly can,’ and I just happened to bust through.”

The Wildcats busted all the way to the Tier 3 provincials as the Central Alberta High School Football League representatives. They now face St. Paul in a provincial quarter-final at 1 p.m. Saturday in Stettler.

Nelson, who also had a big run early in the game, scored three touchdowns on a chilly afternoon that was at least warmer than practice conditions in the preceding week.

“I think we came pretty prepared for the weather,” said Nelson, 17. “It was actually a lot nicer out today than it was all week. It wasn’t too bad.

“The best thing I liked is there was actually more traction. I could actually run.”

Indeed, he could run. So much so that the public-address announcer christened Nelson as Talladega Nights racecar driver Ricky Bobby — a label last year used to describe Ricky Armstrong, a Wildcat graduate who returned to the sidelines last Saturday in support of his former teammates.

Nelson continues to wear a knee brace, as he has since returning to action in early October against those same Lakers.

“He had a big game when we played them there (in Sylvan Lake) and he had another big game here today, for sure,” Wildcats coach Norbert Baharally said Saturday.

Nelson is among 15 seniors who didn’t want the game to be their last in a Wildcat football jersey.

The Wildcats were coming off a 42-14 loss to Red Deer’s Notre Dame Cougars in a league semifinal the previous week.

“Last week, I had a pretty bad game, so almost in this one, I was trying to make it up to my team,” said Nelson, five-foot-11 and 180 pounds.

“I’ve played football a few years … I wasn’t really nervous for this game. It was the first game I was not nervous for. I just talked to myself — go out there and do my jobs that I’m supposed to do, and if we don’t come out with the win, I did all I could.”

The Wildcats left it all on the line and extended their season, keeping alive their hopes of repeating as the provincial Tier 3 champions.

“Everyone was real excited,” Nelson said. “They were all really excited, but there’s also some nerves, ‘We’re going to provincials,’ almost a little shot kind of thing. Provincials are definitely one heck of a test.”

The Wildcats appear ready to write that test.

“Honestly, I can see them going pretty far in provincials, if (opponents) can’t find a way to stop Braden Nelson,” said Sylvan Lake graduating quarterback Chase Hoffman.

“He’s good. He’s fast.”

Hoffman and Lakers receiver Tyler Ledwos are a lethal combination, and they showed much of that chemistry Saturday. But the defensively sound Wildcats were equal to the task and showed their depth — fortified this season because of injuries to key players.

Along with Nelson’s heroics, Parker Cassidy added two touchdowns, while Cherewko, Clayton Steen and Grade 11 quarterback Stephen Zuk added one each. Frank van Ommeren contributed seven converts.

Ledwos and Trent Kondor each had two touchdowns for Sylvan Lake.

The Wildcats have a 7-1 record this season.

St. Paul (8-1) defeated a Tier 4 school, Cold Lake, 40-21 last Saturday in their league championship.

Just Posted

WATCH: Canada Winter Games are finally here

Final leg of torch relay kicked off at Fort Normandeau

Furever Ours dance coming to Botha

Tickets still left for “Furever Ours” dine and dance

Stettler Lightning prepare to battle Wranglers in playoffs this week

Stettler Lightning finish their regular season with a 14W-14L-7OTL

Almost 10,000 arrows shot at 3rd annual Wm E Hay Nockbuster winter shoot

Both junior and senior high Stettler Nockbuster teams placed first

Fashion Fridays: Up your beauty game

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vehicle theft from dealership

Police were able to disable the SUV with assistance from the built-in vehicle assistance system

Red Deer College transforms into Athletes’ Village

Red Deer College’s campus will be home for the athletes during the 2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta minor hockey team, slammed for Indigenous dance video, forfeits season

Parents say season was too dangerous to finish because the team has been threatened

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Alix resident captures beams of light near Lacombe

Lacombe, Blackfalds, Red Deer photos have since gone viral around the world

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Red Deer man loses car after being caught twice driving with suspended licence

The Ponoka Integrated Traffic Unit ticketed the man in December and on Valentine’s Day

January home sales were weakest since 2015, average national price falls: CREA

CREA says the national average price for all types of residential properties sold in January was $455,000

Most Read