By Cole Parkinson
After a few weeks off, the W.R. Myers Rebels were back on the gridiron this past Friday night as the team was competing in the ASAA South Zone Tier 4 Championship. While the Rebels were able to beat the Willow Creek Cobras a few weeks before this one, the Rebels knew that the past game would have no bearing on this one with what was on the line.
“Our first meeting four weeks ago was a barn-burner, and I knew this one would likely be even tougher,” stated Jason Jensen, head coach of the Rebels. “We also had to deal with practice cancellations due to the onset of winter weather, so I was a touch nervous going in. The snow made what practice we were able to get in kind of difficult, but I have to say, my hat is off to the Town of Taber Public Works department, and the job they did getting the game field ready. They got pretty much every bit of snow off of that surface, and left us with a pristine field to play on, which is kind of amazing, given the snow dump we got.”
While there may have been some rust early on as the Cobras would score first, the Rebels were able to grind their way through that early portion of the game.
“The Cobras put the first points on the board on the opening kick-off, using the wind to their advantage to send the ball through the front corner of the endzone for a rouge, making it 1-0. They were pretty fired up with that, and after forcing us to go two and out, they quickly drove down the field and punched the ball in to go up 8-0 less than four minutes into the game,” continued Jensen. “Now, this is the kind of situation that worries me as a coach, as it’s easy for a team to be put on their heels, and bad luck can kind of snowball. Thankfully, we quickly got the boys calmed down, and I could actually see their resolve set in as they went back to work.”
The Rebels saw a defensive battle for the rest of the first half, but with the game close, W.R. Myers was just waiting for a big play.
“From there on out, the game turned into a defensive stalemate. Both sides would drive the ball a bit before stalling, or having an untimely turnover, preventing either side from putting points on the board. Finally, late in the second quarter, things broke loose for us, as Elias Cooper ran for a big gain, followed by a Brennan Abela touchdown reception to get us on the board. I made the decision to go for two points, and rookie quarterback Dane DenHollander found receiver Kade Hansen on a short pass to tie things up — 8-8 ended up being the halftime score,” explained Jensen.
With the break seeing an 8-8 tie, the coaching staff focused on getting back to Rebel football. Whatever was said must have worked for the Rebels as the team continued to grind on both sides of the ball.
“At halftime, we really drove home that even after a bunch of key mishaps in the first half, the game was still tied, and we seemed to be finding our groove. We just had to keep pressing and stay focused. Of course, the third quarter was a lot like the first two, trading drives with neither team scoring. I was quite impressed with our defence at this point, as those boys really dug in, and didn’t allow that Cobras offence to get much going,” said Jensen. “Finally the damn broke again, as Cooper was able to recover an onside punt and take it to the endzone, putting us up 15-8. We were able to pin the Cobras deep on the ensuing kickoff, and Cooper struck again, intercepting a Willow Creek pass and turning that into another touchdown, widening the score to 22-8.”
From there, the Rebels just focused on running the clock down and playing good defence.
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