After a leisurely summer off, the H.J. Cody Lakers are back on the field and ready to improve on their season.
The Lakers have started their season on a high note, with a huge win over the Ponoka Broncs, 35-15.
The first game of the season was held at home on Sept. 8 and was a spectacle to see for fans. As the coach, Jeremy Braitenback sees areas to work on and improve.
He called the game a typical first game of the season.
“We made a lot of mistakes, big mistakes, especially in the first half of the game,” said Braitenback.
The first half of the game was fairly back and forth, with mistakes and big plays made on both sides of the field.
Ponoka was on the board first after a pass to Ponoka’s Luke Bonnett who ran it past the Lakers for the game’s first touchdown.
Not to be outdone, the Lakers came back in the first with a touchdown by Caleb Johnson, who also kicked the point after.
At the end of the first the game was tied at seven a piece.
“We weren’t making passes and we weren’t covering their guys,” said Braitenback.
According to the coach the team was making mistakes that is sometimes seen in professional football.
The second quarter saw the Broncs pull ahead after a touchdown by Ponoka’s Jared Busier, who also went in for a two-point conversion.
Before the end of the half, Lakers’ Bret Zenert scored his first touchdown of the game. However, at half-time the Lakers were behind by one point, 15-14.
Coming back after the half, the Lakers played like a different team and worked to contain the Broncs.
“The guys came back after the half with some coaching I think they really took to,” said Braitenback.
The Lakers came back and not only held the Broncs at bay, but also scored twice in the third, with Zenert scoring his second touchdown of the game.
The turning point of the game, according to Braitenback was the punt return by Patrick Bennett who took it for a 75 yard touchdown.
“The punt return by Patrick Bennett was huge. After that I think the guys really got into the zone and started to play the game,” said Braitenback.
The Broncs were held at 15 points at the end of the third quarter with a score of 28-15.
The final quarter of the game saw Zenert pick up his third touchdown, towards the end of the fourth. The final touchdown brought the Lakers ahead by 20 points, with a final score of 35-15.
Braitenback says there is still a lot for the team to work on before the season is over.
“I think we need to work some more on our conditioning. Some of the plays were sloppy,” he said.
Before the game, Braitenback said the defensive line was going to be a weak point in game. While the coach wasn’t happy to give up 15 points in the first half, he commended the defence.
“We were able to keep them at 15, which is great. We still have work to do, but it’s a great start,” said Braitenback.
Braitenback was also impressed with how the Broncs played. After the game he said the Broncs played a good game and thought they made some excellent moves.
“Normally Ponoka is seen as the bottom of the barrel team, but I thought they put up a great fight in this game,” Braitenback said.
The Lakers will play Settler next, with the team travelling to Settler on Sept. 15.
Braitenback said he can’t predict the outcome but hopes to see an improvement in his team.
“I just hope with every game we play we get better and better,” he said.
The Lakers next home game is Sept. 21 against Camrose.