The Notre Dame Cougars and the Parkside Pythons squared off in Lacombe for the Alberta Tier II Bantam Provincial Championship.
The game marked the first time that the Tier II championship was not played between Edmonton and Calgary teams.
Luckily for both teams, the on-field conditions were near perfect, considering the game was being held in late November.
Despite the favourable throwing conditions, the first half was run-the-ball, defensive battle that didn’t favour either Red Deer or Medicine Hat.
The Pythons would score an early touchdown, but a series of consecutive run-plays by the Cougars would lead to a touchdown score by quarterback Jaxyn Flunder 7-6, leading to a score at half time.
The second half started with an amazing 109-yard catch by Cougars receiver Ethan Briault, who took the ball all the way from the 1-yard line on second down. The Cougars had the 13-6 lead with 5:19 left in the third quarter.
Cougars Coach Justin Flunder was amazed with the play.
“We were in the endzone deep on second down. We thought we were going to have to give up the safety at that point,” he said. “We ran the play we always run and the rest is history.”
The Pythons would have the answer in the last minute of the third when Damon Jahraus ran the ball in from the 1-yard line, leading to 13-12 score heading into the final frame.
The Cougars would clap right back minutes into the fourth quarter when Jaxyn Flunder ran his second running touchdown in the game, putting the Cougars up 20-12 with just over seven minutes to play.
“It’s not always easy coaching your son,” Justin said. “This season he has done everything that was asked of him. I am so proud of the young man.”
The Cougars managed to close out the game, leading to the first time a Central Alberta team has ever won the Tier II Bantam Championship.
Justin said the game was, ‘unbelievable.’
“We knew these guys were going to be tough,” he said. “We needed to bring everything we had and that’s what we have been doing all season.”
Justin said the quality of football in Central Alberta has a lot to do with the quality of coaching.
“Guys are really excited to get out there and that has trickled down all the way to minor football,” he said.