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Wolverines football season ends in first round

"The results didn't show a ton of progression, but I do feel like we got better and better."
20210820 Wolverines Football 0687
Members of the Canmore Wolverines football team run through a conditioning drill 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 – The Canmore Wolverines football season has come to a close after a first-round exit in the playoffs.

The high school team was eliminated from the Tier IV southern Alberta playoffs after falling 38-7 to the W.R. Myers Rebels in Taber on Saturday (Nov. 13).

But despite the unceremonious ending to a tough season, head coach Spencer Rose said the building blocks of the Wolverine's gridiron future have been laid.

"The results didn't show a ton of progression, but I do feel like we got better and better," said Rose, adding that it sucked losing last year to COVID-19. "I think going forward now that we've had that experience with the group that is going to be returning. We've had time to adjust the offence that we put in now and it will be more hammering out the situation that we use certain situations that we use certain plays on and different reads and things like that."

Due to COVID-19, many Grade 9 and 10 players, who made up half the team, suited up for the first time in the contact sport.

"We were a brand new team, for sure," said Asher McKay, a Grade 12 who plays inside linebacker/running back. "We had a lot of new guys and didn't really have a season last year so we were totally rebuilding. I think next year will be a totally better team. These guys are going to get to know each other and they're going to be in the playbooks and everything and just executing what they needed to do."

In a game where learning how to give and take hits is as important more than ever, plus learning a new set of rules, plays, and positional awareness, there were still portions of Wolverines practice dedicated to learning the basics.

The result of the growing pains was highlighted in the Rebels playoff game – both on-field and on the sidelines.

The Wolverines were down deep in a 21-0 hole following the first quarter and things didn't get better in the second as the Rebels added seven more points to the board while keeping the Wolverines off of it.

"We were still figuring out our reads and everything," said McKay. "We totally forgot about all the keys we were supposed to pick up against their offence, so it was just terrible the first half."

Rose, who started as the team's defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach in 2019, acknowledged he's still figuring out the offensive play-making.

The Rebels knocked the Wolverines out of it and the first half deficit was too large to overcome.

It wasn't until the fourth when Wolverines quarterback Nico Hornyanski scored the team's lone touchdown. On the previous play, running back Kai Perron gained huge yardage from a Hornyanski pass that put the QB in prime location beside the end zone for an easy quarterback sneak dive-in.

The two players will play big roles next season as returning Grade 12 players, added Rose.

"Our execution on both sides of the ball to start the game was not fantastic," said Rose. "I think we readjusted reasonably well. We came out solidly after half time and played till the final whistle. It was an improvement throughout the game, but we've kind of been plagued the last couple seasons by only really playing one half of football. Either we come out on fire in the first and for whatever reason disappear in the second half or vice versa and I think that was a bit of the story on Saturday, which was unfortunate."

The Rebels face the Drumheller Dragons in the south championship game Saturday (Nov. 20) in the badlands.

Now that the season is over, it's time to say goodbye to the senior class, the most experienced of the team whom Rose gave praise to.

"The entire senior class was fantastic for us and those are the guys it's always hard to see at the end of the season. It's always hard to see those guys go and go and graduate and you realize you don't get any more time with them on the team, which is unfortunate."

Rose added after the Rebels playoff game, he spoke to the team off the field about the critical elements needed for improvement: learning playbooks, watching film and getting to the gym.

"If you put in the effort now it'll show next year and it should lead to the results where hopefully we're winning our last game of the season," he said.

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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