CANMORE – There’s an old adage in football that defence wins championships.
In the season opener, the Canmore Collegiate Wolverines football team’s defensive prowess was on full display as they shut down the Olds Spartans in a 35-6 win at Millennium Field on Saturday (Sept. 18).
“It feels fantastic, we’re back. The key to our success today was our defence,” said Wolverines head coach Spencer Rose. “That defence came out and dominated.”
Rose was pleased with the way his young squad handled its first game in more than a year and spoke highly of junior players' first high school football game, but also of the leadership shown by the veterans.
“With any defence it starts up front – that [defensive] line controlled the line of scrimmage – and our backers were absolutely flying around. Our senior guys took the lead and really showed the younger guys what it takes to compete and contain the opposition,” said Rose.
Right from the kick-off, the Spartans struggled to move the line of scrimmage and push the Wolverines’ defensive line back. The coverage in the middle of the field by the Wolverines halfbacks kept Olds to only a handful of gains larger than five yards throughout the game.
“Defence was on lockdown today. Our defensive backs were blocking everything,” said Wolverines’ senior Asher McKay.
On the other side of the ball, the Wolverines got off to a sluggish start in the first quarter. Pounding rain and strong winds made for difficult conditions to play any kind of aerial game, so the offence opted for a ground game instead.
“We were stagnant in the first quarter, but once we were able to make some adjustments to our approach and get the ball into Kai’s [Perron] and Asher’s hands, those two incredible athletes were able to use their breakaway speed on the outside,” said Rose.
Rose rotated through his running backs McKay and Perron, who each scored two touchdowns and kept the Spartans defence guessing at every snap.
“Alternating me and Kai, we were able to keep the wheels turning and throwing off the other team,” said McKay.
Both McKay and Perron were quick to give a shout-out to their teammates blocking, which allowed them the space to run to the outside.
“Our fullback Evren [Odyakmaz] – so happy to have him – he was laying out good blocks for me and giving me an extra five yards to run," McKay said.
There was added meaning to the win on Saturday as the team saluted Ted McGregor Stahl, a former Wolverine who was part of the 2018 provincial championship team. Stahl passed away in December last year, and the team dedicated the game to Stahl and his family.
“It’s hard to put into words, especially when we’re playing for a fallen brother in McGregor Stahl. It’s awesome to get back out there and get that win for him,” said Rose.
The Wolverines now turn their focus toward Saturday’s (Sept. 25) game against the Drumheller Titans. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Millennium Field.