After weeks of sitting idle following their exit from Wheatland Football League play, the Lions have soared.
They tamed the #2 ranked Stettler Wildcats in a 20-10 victory, and will play in their first Tier IV provincial final next Friday in Fort McMurray.
Regional Field was a frozen tundra Saturday afternoon. In what felt like -18 degrees, the ball difficult to handle as snaps often sailed over punter’s heads, or dribbled to the quarterback.
The Lions defense showed a lot of moxie as the game progressed, keeping the dangerous running tandem to within the hashmarks, as Coach Mark Tichkowsky said was the gameplan.
The Lions offense was in kitchen sink mode, meaning they were pulling all sorts of trickery to try and gain an advantage.
The play that paid off the most was the reverse and double-reverse.
First, Owen Breast pulled all of the Wildcats opposite field before handing it to the swooping receiver, gaining over 30 yards after the double, (on the way to the Lions scoring the first touchdown of the game).
Then, they ran the same play but faked the second hand-off. Owen Breast scampered down the field and scored a long touchdown run, making the game 13-7 in the second quarter.
That’s when the game turned into a battle of field position. The Lions spent most of the second quarter in their end, but did not surrender another touchdown all day.
The Wildcats receivers had a tough time getting open downfield, but the quarterback was rushed all day by the Lions defensive line.
With just over nine minutes left in the game, the Lions received a punt near midfield, and that’s when the crucial back-breaking score came. The returned went against the grain to the right side of the field, and the punt return blockers levied some major hits en route to the touchdown scamper to go up 20-10.
That two possession lead was essentially a death nail.
The Wildcats had to go to the air, but some key drops and overthrows ended any chance of a comeback. The Lions walked off, and Owen Breast said the win made him “speechless.”
The Lions will play the #4 ranked Canmore Wolverines who defeated W.R. Myers 21-20 in the southern semi-final.