The turf tilted early in the Voyageurs favour and the Royals were fighting an uphill battle all game long.
The Voyageurs special teams blocked a punt after the snap went over the punter’s head. They scored on the very next play and never looked back in the eventual 41-7 win for Bonnyville in their home opener against Cold Lake.
“Absolutely. It was a perfect start,” said Voyageurs coach Larry Godziuk.
“The boys looked really crisp. Our starting group was pretty crisp all day. I was actually pretty happy with that. We tried to hit home with our execution this week, and I thought we executed well, as well as we could’ve.”
On multiple drives, Voyageurs running back Drake Boulianne displayed his brand of bruising running. When starting drives in the Royals side, Boulianne rushed for a 41 yard touchdown, and followed that up with two rushes for 36 yards and another score. He had over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns as the first half closed 35-7.
The Royals youth reared its head on special teams with multiple altered punts, and muffed kick returns that put the Voyageurs in good field position.
“Some coaches say special teams are a third of the game, so we do spend a significant amount of our practice time on our special teams,” said Godziuk.
The challenge now for Bonnyville is dealing with the injury of starting quarterback Silas Fagnan, who left the game in the first half for what was revealed to be a broken arm. The injury is to his non-throwing arm but threatens to take the senior out for the season .
“Early in the first half we lost our starting quarterback Silas to a broken arm. Which is tough. Grade 12 year, one of the best quarterbacks in the area, in the province. And he’s going to be on the shelf for a bit. But he’s a young kid, so we hope a speedy recovery, and we get him back as soon as possible.”
Royals coach Kelly Johnson said the preparation is key for the younger roster moving forward.
“We thought we were over them [growing pains] with the last couple weeks, but I guess not quite yet. We were a little high strung a bit at the start. Not a good start for us. But after that actually we played not bad of football.
“We know we’re not gonna overwhelm anybody, but we want to try and be at least competitive,” said Johnson.
Their goal is to build on an improved performance from Week 1 for their next game against another Tier 4 squad: the (0-2) Wainwright Commandos.
“They’ve got a talented running back and quarterback and some big O-linemen. The nice thing is they’ve got a comparable sized roster to us.”
The Voyageurs are on a bye next week but are not taking the week off. They’ll host the Lacombe Rams with the focus again on execution.
“Execute. Give our starters some time. But because it’s exhibition, get the backups in. Get them on the field in a game where for us it’s development and we don’t have to worry about standings and playoff positioning and stuff like that. So coming out of the game healthy with good execution is what we’re looking for,” said Godziuk.