By Cole Parkinson
For Taber Times
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After a great start to the 2023 football season, the W.R. Myers Rebels suited up for a tough test on home field last week. The Chinook Coyotes came to town looking to put an end to the Rebels’ two-game win streak and it was a battle all around for the home team.
“Well, we figured this was going to be the toughest game of our season to date, and we were correct about that,” explained Jason Jensen, head coach of the Rebels. “Chinook is a big, physical team, with plenty of speed and skill to go with that size, and they came to play. Of course, we possess all those same traits, and it made for a very tough, hard-hitting football game.”
From the first kick, the Rebels got off to a good start as they started on offence. Like the previous two weeks, the Rebels were hopeful to get points on the board quickly.
“Our offence got off to a great start, going on a six-play drive until a costly fumble ended that for us deep in Coyotes territory. We exchanged short drives from there before Chinook was able to really put something together, stringing nine plays into a 13-yard touchdown by Gage Parker. The Coyotes were up 7-0 as the first quarter ended,” added Jensen.
Being down after the first quarter was unfamiliar territory for the Rebels. Despite the early setback, the defence was looking for redemption.
“I don’t know if that woke up our defence, or what, but the boys really dug in, and shut the Coyotes down. Unfortunately, Chinook was able to take advantage of a collision between two Rebels players, and break off a 92-yard return to go up 14-0 in the middle of the second quarter,” said Jensen. “The fight wasn’t gone out of our Myers boys yet though, and safety Brigham Porter came up with a timely interception in the Coyotes’ end. Two plays later, slotback Elias Cooper took off on a 25-yard run to score, and put us on the board with 2:31 to go.”
The Rebels’ offence looked to get the game closer, but another timely turnover killed momentum before the half.
“That really lit a fire under our guys, but unfortunately another fumble killed one drive, and an interception in the back of the Coyotes endzone on the last play of the half meant we were going into halftime down 14-7,” continued Jensen.
With lots of game left and only down by seven points, coaches and players looked to make some adjustments for the second half. One of which was continuing to play strong football and limiting turnovers.
“During halftime, we emphasized that it was still only a one-score game, and it was far from over, and it was still anybody’s game. There was still lots of fight left in our guys, evidenced by our defence forcing Chinook to turn the ball over on downs on their first drive. The offence went back to work, once again threatening in Coyotes territory before a mid-field collision resulted in an interception that was returned to our one-yard line,” said Jensen, “One play later, they were in the endzone, and the score was 22-7 Chinook. The offence answered back with a great 13-play drive that culminated in a 15-yard touchdown catch by receiver Kade Hansen with 21 seconds to go in the third quarter, narrowing the gap to 22-13.”
The final quarter would require a comeback by the Rebels, but unfortunately, the Coyotes were able to hammer home a few more touchdowns en route to the win.
“This was as close as it would get though, and a couple of those top Coyotes athletes made us pay in the fourth with two more touchdowns, ending the game at 34-13,” explained Jensen. “
It is tough when we’re testing ourselves against these bigger schools from the higher Tiers. Chinook has a roster of 50, so they have plenty of fresh talent to put in when players get injured, or tired out, and that can make all the difference in a close game. But my hat is off to them, as they are a very talented team, they played hard, and when it was all said and done, they executed better than we did.”
Looking at the Myers’ roster though, the coaching staff was happy with how the team performed despite the loss. These games against bigger schools help the Rebels test their strengths and weaknesses before the games really start to matter.
“On that same token, I’m still quite proud of my boys, as this was a one-score game at the start of the fourth quarter, despite turning the ball over multiple times and having a couple of defensive gaffs. They can hold their heads high for that. Now we’ll look at the film, see what we can adjust and fix, and move along from there,” continued Jensen. “Our next opponent is McCoy out of Medicine Hat, once again at home on Friday night. They have some very experienced, knowledgeable coaches, who I’ve known for a long time, and I expect they’ll bring a fight to us. So we don’t have time to lick our wounds, we have to get right back after it with a good week of practice.”
The Rebels return to the gridiron on Friday night when the McCoy Colts come to town for a 7 p.m. kick-off at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Complex.