Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Senior Mustangs defeat Rebels in come from behind nail biter

2015 Pincher Creek Senior Mustangs in Lethbridge

Chris Davis

Do-or-die season is underway for high school football in Alberta.  Pincher Creek's Senior Mustangs stepped a game closer to the big one with an October 20 win as the host team at the lovely Lethbridge University Community Stadium (LUCS) over Taber's W.R. Meyers Rebels.  After a shaky first half for the Mustangs, the game came down to the final seconds as the Mustangs defended their five-yard line against the Rebels on a first down, with the Rebels needing a single touchdown to overcome the Mustangs' five point lead. Three plays later the Mustangs emerged victorious, defeating the Rebels 35-29.  The Mustangs brought a crowd and were treated like conquering heroes as they left the field. It was a better showing for the Rebels than their game against the Mustangs at Matthew Halton Field on September 25, which ended in a 20-7 win for the Pincher Creek team.

Mustangs mascot in Lethbridge
Brandy Hale photo

I announced the October 30 game at LUCS (while also making notes and taking photos for the story below), with a great deal of help from Peewee Mustangs coach Jeremy Nelson, the fans below my window, and a very helpful official checking on the officiating (my apologies for not noting your name at the time, sir).  The smart stuff was them.  The same goes for the article below, my notes were announcing notes, not reporting notes, so let me know if I get it wrong.  Both teams had vociferous support from the bleachers. 

From where I sat it looked like a more focused Rebels on the field than we saw in Pincher earlier in the season.  Their cockiness was replaced with determination.  The Mustangs won, and deserved to win, but the narrowness of that win was also a logical outcome of a game that seemed like the Rebels at the peak of their game against a Mustangs team that didn't have it's usual use of the force on the big plays, particularly when it came to incomplete passes.  That plagued the Mustangs in all four quarters.  Good plays executed less than successfully.  A puzzler to me, because I've seen this team make those plays in practice and in competition.  It just wasn't there this day and they had to earn their yards the hard ways.

B. Hale and C. Davis video

The Rebels dominated the first quarter, scoring unanswered touchdowns and conversions to be up 14-0 going into the second quarter.  A single for the Rebels early in the second pushed that to 15-0.  Mustangs #18 Logan Kaack put the Mustangs firmly on the board with back to back touchdowns in the last 5 minutes of the first half, The score was 15-12 Rebels at the half.  Rebel Blake Bullock widened the gap again, this time to 21-12, followed by a successful convert that pushed it to 22-12.  Now moving deeper into the third quarter, the Mustangs needed to make their move.  Matthew Duncan made a great try at it.  Then Logan Kaack made his third touchdown of the day to bring it to 22-18.  A 2 point convert made it 22-20.   Merrick Stauffer made a touchdown for the Mustangs in the fourth quarter at the 7:43 mark.  26-22 Mustangs, their first lead in the game.  A Rebels touchdown plus a conversion put them ahead again 29-26.  Austin Bruder carried the ball an estimated 65 yards for the Mustangs in one incredible run.  A touchdown followed by a successful two point convert put the Mustangs ahead 34-29 with 3:35 left in the game. 

The Rebels with considerable effort brought the game to the Mustangs' 5 yard line. Less than a minute on the clock.  Inches between victory and defeat separating two great teams.  The Rebels need one touchdown to win it.  First down for the Rebels was stopped by the Mustangs.  The second was stopped as well, and time was almost up.  Third down, the Mustangs' line held once more.  Game over. 34-29 Mustangs.

Mustangs Head Coach Wayne Alexander

Mustangs Head Coach Wayne Alexander was obviously happy at the conclusion of the game.  "Here's the neat thing, and I've said this before," he said, "In past years if we got into that situation (a weak first half) it would have just continued like that, we would have lost.  But these guys... they've come back in the past and this was just another situation where they knew they could win."

The Mustangs left the field to the accolades of their fans, friends, and families, already talking about their upcoming away game against Claresholm's Cobras on Friday. They've arranged a fan bus at $10 per person for that outing, and anyone under the age of 16 will be required to sign a permission slip if a parent is not attending. .Call or Text 1- 403-339-0384 for more info.

A great football game.  Both teams were a pleasure to watch, subtle and not so subtle tactical philosophies in play. The Rebels have capes.  "We don't like capes," said one Mustangs wag.  I'm used to seeing the Mustangs playing on our local field, which isn't all that, nor was really ever designed to be.  To see them under bright lights on good turf from a warm booth was a pleasure.   

Mustangs QB Kyle Knowlton

Some technical stuff:

The Mustangs are in the Southern Alberta High School Football League, which includes the following teams:
  • Pincher Creek Mustangs
  • Cardston Cougars
  • Catholic Central Cougars
  • Chinook Coyotes
  • Kate Andrews Pride
  • Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (LCI) Rams
  • Raymond Comets
  • Willow Creek Cobras
  • Winston Churchhill Bulldogs
According to, teams are slotted into tiers based on their school size. Pincher Creek is Tier IV (school population of 449 or less).  At week 9 of the 2015 season (November 1) the Mustangs were ranked third in their tier, a considerable accomplishment, after defeating the Rebels in Lethbridge.  

In first place is Sexsmith, with a 7-1 record, who in their last game defeated Peace River by a wide margin.

Pincher Creek's Mustangs have a 7-3 record.  They next travel to Claresholm to face the Cobras on Friday, November 6.   Claresholm had a bye last week.  If the Mustangs win that one, they will again host at Lethbridge field to the end of the playoffs, essentially having home-field advantage for two potentially crucial games. If the Mustangs win those games they'll be on to Edmonton for Provincials.  Regional finals will be held mid-November, and the Alberta Bowl Provincial Final is scheduled for Friday, November 27.

Canada's current top ten for Canadian high school football according to

  1. St. Francis Browns Calgary, AB 4-0
  2. W.F. Herman Green Griffins Windsor, ON 6-0
  3. Séminaire Saint-François Blizzard Quebec, QC 9-0
  4. St. Paul's Crusaders Winnipeg, MB 8-0
  5. Leboldus Golden Suns Regina, SK 7-0
  6. Lorne Park Spartans Mississauga, ON 5-0
  7. Bev Facey Falcons Sherwood Park, AB 9-0
  8. Terry Fox Ravens Port Coquitlam, BC 5-0
  9. Vancouver College Fighting Irish Vancouver, BC 4-0
  10. Notre Dame Pride Calgary, AB 5-1
Mustang Bruce Kirby with the ball

Official guess was 65 yards by Mustangs #33 Austin Bruder (above and below)

C. Davis photos where noted

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