Sunday , 26 September 2021

Westlock Dominate Line of Scrimmage in Royals Semi-Final Loss

Westlock celebrates their third straight touchdown in the first quarter to make it 22-0 over Cold Lake en route to their 36-24 victory.

Twenty-four answered points and a rushing “meatgrinder” attack was the early lift the Westlock T-Birds needed to get their first win of the season against the Cold Lake Royals 36-24 Saturday afternoon.

The consolation semi-final loss ends the Royals season.

“That was the flattest we’ve been all year and I don’t know where that came from. It took us by surprise,” said coach Kelly Johnson. “It took us way too long to wake up and it’s 24-0, and by the time you wake up we’re out of a ballgame.”

“We tried to practice against it the best we can…and that’s something we’re going to take note of for next year,” he said.

Cold Lake responded with a long touchdown rush of their own to make it a two-score game, but the Royals could never mount enough pressure to make Westlock feel uncomfortable.

The Thunderbirds extended many drives with bruising runs on third-down and chewed up several minutes of the clock in the process.

“There’s a guy in front of me,” said center and graduating player Hunter Nicholson, “and then there’s a guy in A-gap. Then they’re blitzing both gaps A and double-A, so it’s hard to block all of those guys.”

Royals quarterback Joe Hamel connected with Charlie Pearce to make it a three touchdown game at the end of the third quarter, and fired another long strike to put the Royals within 13 points, but that is as close as they would come.

Linebacker Ayokunle “AK” Ajayi played both ways to help block in his last game as the T-Birds were flooding the interior lines on offense and defense.

Westlock will advance to play Wainwright next weekend in the consolation final.

The game Saturday was the final time the Cold Lake Royals played at Soholt Field before they move to their new field beside the Energy Centre.

“Twenty-two years here playing on this field. There’s been a lot of games. A lot of big wins and a lot of sad losses. Just hats off to all the players that we’ve coached here for all these years.

“These kids they bleed, they sweat on this field and they love Royals football, and our motto discipline, work, reward. We really appreciate all of their hard work over the years,” said Johnson.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.