H. J. Cody Lakers football squad exceeded expectations of coaches and a lot of other people to get within one game of a provincial championship match.
They were almost there, but it was not to be after they met Ardrossan Bisons Monday night at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe for the semi-final.
After tallying a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter, the Lakers saw their opponents tie the game by the end of the half and then add a touchdown with 1:50 to go in the third quarter to seal the win in a hard fought defensive match.
The final score was 21-14 for Ardrossan.
“A tough loss, we just needed to make the play at crucial moments but didn’t,” said coach Jeremy Braitenback. “There’s no shame in losing a tight game to one of the best Tier 3 teams in the province. The coaching staff is very proud of the season we had and can’t wait until next year.”
Fleet-footed Landon Rosene scored both of the Lakers’ touchdowns, the first on an eight yard run and the second on a 52 yard breakaway. Aden Smaill booted the converts.
Rosene tallied 250 yards of the Lakers’ 318 yards rushing, on 23 carries. He was able to escape the clutches of Bisons on four of those occasions to rack up gains of more than 20 yards. Shon Zenert rushed seven times for 49 yards, quarterback Skylar Selk ran six times for 17 yards and Trent Kondor added two yards on two carries.
Selk completed seven of 15 passes for 66 yards. Receiving were Josh Barrie, four times for 43 yards, Zenert once for 13 yards and Kondor twice for ten yards.
The Lakers recovered three fumbles gaining changes in momentum at critical times during the game.
Rosene set up the Lakers’ with an opportunity late in the final quarter with a 37 yard gain on a hook-and-ladder play that gave them a first down. With the ball on Ardrossan’s 25-yard line, and needing inches on a third-down play Selk was knocked for a loss and the ball turned over on yards not gained at the 1:43 mark. That was the last possession for the Lakers who watched as the Bisons ran out the clock and their chances for victory.
“I think we needed a foot. We didn’t get it and just before the play I said to my coaches ‘if we don’t get this we probably don’t deserve to win’,” Braitenback told the Advocate. “We didn’t make it but I don’t think it just came down to that. There are other plays that make a game and we didn’t make them and they did, especially in the second half.”
He added they were “not disciplined, especially in the first half”.
“We kind of had them on the ropes when it was 14-0 and I think penalties let them back in the game. That gave them the momentum and they just carried it through the second half.” Sylvan was penalized for 95 yards, as opposed to 40 for Ardrossan.
In other game statistics the teams were fairly evenly matched offensively with 15 first downs each. The Lakers posted 384 yards in offence, most of it on the ground, compared to 378 for the Bisons which included 202 in the air.