By Greg Price
The season has come to an end for the Taber bantam Rebels football team.
Taber dropped a 42-26 decision on Saturday against the Lethbridge Cougars in the Southern Alberta Minor Football Association Division ‘B’ championship game.
The Rebels raced out to a 7-0 lead, after a key defensive stop in Cougars territory. Taber’s offence capitalized and used the short field to its advantage, as quarterback Kade Lund ran the ball in for a short touchdown run.
“We got the start we wanted,” said Rebels offensive co-ordinator, Garrett Simmons. “We forced Lethbridge to a three-and-out and looked like we had all the momentum.”
But that momentum didn’t last, as Cougars quarterback, and league MVP, Derek Trapp, took over.
“There’s maybe been one or two other players I have coached against in my nearly 20 years that were as electric as that kid,” said Simmons. “He scored on the next drive for them, and that really set the tone for them on offence.”
A perfectly-executed onside kick made it 14-7 Cougars, as Lethbridge’s kickoff team received a favourable bounce that ended up in the hands of a Cougars special teams player, who ran untouched into the end zone.
“That play really hurt,” said Simmons. “They popped the ball into a soft spot on our kick return team, and it could not have worked out any better for the Cougars.”
Lethbridge put two more majors on the board, as Taber responded with a score of its own to make the game 27-14 at the half. The Rebels made it a one-score game in the second half, as Taber went to the air in the final two quarters, as Lund nearly helped the visitors come all the way back in the contest.
“We made some big plays through the air,” said Simmons, who added his quarterback ended the afternoon with three touchdowns and 226 yards. “Lethbridge really came in with a game plan to shut down our running game, and we had to put the ball in the air.”
Brennan Abela caught two long passes to finish with 103 yards in the contest, which included a 61-yard touchdown. Kyler James added a short touchdown reception, while Evan Rabusic also hauled in a touchdown reception.
“We did all we could to stay in the game, but when it came down to it, every time we clawed back, Lethbridge put the ball in Trapp’s hands and he scored for them,” said Simmons. “Nine times out of 10, we knew what play was coming, and we still couldn’t stop it. That quarterback is that good, that slippery and that fast. We just had no answer for him.”
Taber’s only two losses of the season came to the Cougars, which also included a 34-28 loss in the regular season.
“That team had our number, and you really have to tip your hat to the Cougars quarterback,” said Simmons. “He also played safety on defence and he was just all over the field on that side of the ball as well.”