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Big Wolverines win sparks playoff seeding ambitions

"If we take care of business, we could be at home as the No. 2 seed in Big Sky."
20210820 Wolverines Football 0765
Canmore Wolverines quarterback Nico Hornyansky throws the ball during practice at Lion’s Park field on Friday (Aug. 20). The Wolverines football team is the first team at Canmore Collegiate High School to resume to play after a year without organized sports at the high school level due to COVID-19. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – With high school league and provincial playoffs nearing, the Canmore Wolverines football team's chances of post-regular season action improved greatly after a critical weekend victory.

The Wolverines bested the Olds Spartans 23-18 Saturday (Oct. 9) in Olds during an important seeding match-up that had Canmore gaining a tactical edge in the Big Sky League and Tier 4 provincials' rankings.

"It was huge," said Spencer Rose, Wolverines head coach about the win. "Essentially a big part of our season comes down to that team we just played. If we lost, there were a whole bunch of things in jeopardy for us, so it was a huge game for us to win."

In Big Sky, the four-team high school league, the Wolverines firmly take over third place and have two big regular season games remaining against the Drumheller Dragons Saturday (Oct. 16) in Drumheller and the Strathmore Spartans next Saturday (Oct. 23) in Canmore.

The games will determine which team has home field advantage in the first round of Big Sky playoffs at the end of the month. The games will also decide which team will secure the No. 1 seed to advance to provincials next month.

In the past, the top two seeds from Big Sky have advanced to provincials. This year, there is optimism that two teams will advance again, but it hasn't been confirmed yet.

"Regardless if it’s one team or two teams going from Big Sky, if we take care of business, we go to provincials, so our fate's in our hands," said Rose. "We've just got a fair amount of work to do and we've got a lot of improving to do between now and then."

After crushing the Spartans 35-6 in the season opener on Sept. 18, the Wolverines were caught off guard by their determined foes in the second and final match-up of 2021.

Olds struck first last Saturday, scoring a touchdown in the opening quarter.

By halftime, the Wolverines took control of the game and were up 23-12. But the hometown team's offence was stifled in the second half and the Spartans pulled to within one score in the fourth quarter. The Spartans drove toward the end zone in a final push to change their fate.

"They were on our 35 or 40-yard line and we did manage to turn them over on downs and kneel it out to kind of sneak out of there," said Rose. "I gotta say, they played a great game."

Wolverines Asher McKay ran in two touchdowns and Kai Perron had one touchdown. Kicker Quinn Webster booted a three-point field goal.

"Olds definitely showed up," said McKay, a Grade 12 who plays inside linebacker/running back. "They did a lot of film study on us, you could tell, they were reading all of our plays. And they were ready to play and our team really wasn't. I think we came into that game expecting an easy win."

Rose added that the win was a confidence booster after back-to-back losses against Strathmore and this weekend's opponent, Drumheller.

All attention turns to the Dragons match-up in, another important seeding game. The Wolverines passing game will be a big focus in practice this week.

McKay said the team is focusing on trying to play well.

"We really need to just focus on locking down on defence against them," he said. "We have to change our whole defensive setup just when we play Drum."

It’s likely at this point in the season Olds remains the fourth seed and will play the undefeated Strathmore squad in the first round of the Big Sky League.

The other match-up is likely between Canmore and Drumheller with home field advantage on the line over the next few weeks.

"If we take care of business, we could be at home as the No. 2 seed in Big Sky," said Rose.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

Jordan Small joined the Outlook in 2014 and covers the vast world of sports in the Bow Valley. A Barrie, Ont. native, he also wrote for RMO's Mountain Guide section and the MD of Bighorn beat.
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