Royals advance to Provincial Finals

Photo Credit: Chasity Roberts

The Cold Lake Royals have won the right to Alberta High School Football Provincials, with a 28-22 win over Stettler. “We made it really exciting,” laughs Head Coach of the Royals, Kelly Johnson of the close score of the game. Adding mother nature made things very interesting, “it was one of the coldest games I’ve ever been in.”

“They came out way on top of us. We were kind of flat to start, they came out and kicked the field goal, off the start. We flumbled our first play, from scrimmage,” Coach Johnson explains that from the fumble, Stettler was able to take over possession of the play, “they scored, by kicking a field goal.” It would remain a 3-0 for most of the first quarter, says the coach, “we got a touchdown, late in the first quarter.” The touchdown came from a pass by Braydon Vick to Daniel Delorme. Vick would go on to throw three more touchdown passes in the game.

“Second quarter, we kinda owned. We drove for two more touchdowns, it was 21-3. We should’ve score another one, before the end of the second. But they stopped us and it gave them some momentum going into the second half.” As the coach plays out the game, he says Stettler came out fired up after the half time break, “they drove the ball and scored on us during their first drive in the third quarter. We were kind of on our heels. They short kicked and got the ball back and scored again.” It was a 15-21 game, for the Royals at heading into the forth.

“There was a little bit of a stalemate at the start of the fourth quarter. We started things off to make it 28-13, then they scored with six minutes left.” The Royals were able to get the ball back and hold onto it, to run out the clock. “We don’t like to make them that exciting, laughs Coach Johnson, “fans got their money’s worth for the game.”

“When you’re out there and it’s cold, it’s hard to focus on what you’re doing,” the coach says the game was one of the coldest he’s ever played in. The club took to the outdoors the week leading into the semi-final match up to climatize the team to the conditions. “Kids would make a mistake, because they weren’t thinking as clearly as they normally would; but they fought through it.”

Notable plays by quarterback Braydon Vick, who threw for four touchdown passes, “solid for him,” says the coach. Fishing Lake brothers, Matthew and Daniel Delorme both had an outstanding game on defense. Nathan Roberts was an offensive force, adds the coach. Liam Blackburn and Anthony Francis both played outstanding. “Tough kids, man they played tough,” coach says the entire team brought a multitude of skill and strength, “it’s fun to watch our boys rise to the occasion.”

“We had good fan support too!” Coach says many fans made the trip to Lacombe to watch them take on Stettler. The Provincial finals will also be held in Lacombe, explains the coach, “it’s determined a year in advance. There’ll be five games, three Friday night and two Saturday. All four tiers and the six-man championship.”

Johnson thanks offensive and defensive coaching staff, Brain Boychuk (offense) and Chris Thomas & Mark Berquist (defense). The team will play for the Tier 4 Alberta High School Provincial Championship next Saturday in Lacombe versus Willow Creek at 2:30 pm.