Oh, so close.
That must have been running through the heads of the Cold Lake Royals high school football team after a defensive slug match loss to Wainwright 14-12.
Just minutes before, the Royals sideline was buzzing as rookie quarterback Joe Hamel and the offense engineered a drive deep into Wainwright Commandos territory down 14-12 with only a couple minutes to play.
The mix of run, screen, and a few passes lead the Royals to that spot with big second down conversations at midfield. An unnecessary roughness penalty of the Commandos #4, who was warned multiple times throughout the game for his brazen behavior, made it first and goal from the Wainwright eight yard line.
The pressure came Hamel was sacked from the shotgun.
“We were toss it into the endzone and Joe got caught up a little bit. He’s really standing out well. Really impressed with Joe for only his second game in high school,” said Royals head coach Kelly Johnson.
With the back-up long snapper already hurt, which forced the Royals to go for a long 3rd-and-23 in their own territory a quarter before, a field goal to win was not an option.
“We kind of lost our kicking game in the 4th quarter and that really hurt us. We’re gonna work on that this week and get our special teams to where it needs to be for this level at high school. Our boys just aren’t quite there yet.”
The next passing attempts were both incomplete and Wainwright took over on downs. The Royals did force a fumble, but Commandos #23 ran for bruising first downs to run out the clock and give them their first win of the season.
The Royals began the second half in style with a kick return touchdown making the game 7-6. The Royals then took advantage of good field position and punched in another score to take their first lead of the season up 12-6.
The Commandos then took the ensuing kickoff and returned that to the endzone to take the lead and hang on.
The loss puts the Royals at 0-3 for the young season. They will have the bye for Week 4 in the Wheatland Football League before heading to Westlock on Sept. 28.
“That’s going to be a tough one. They run a double wing offense so it’s just a mash of bodies up the middle. We’re gonna work our special teams this week, get our offense clicking and hopefully turn things around for the season.”