Cougars rough up Rebels, move on to semis
The way the Notre Dame Cougars opened their Central Alberta High School Football League quarter-final matchup against the West Central Rebels of Rocky Mountain House they were their own worst enemies.
After scoring on their opening drive, as quarterback Kieran Pruden connected with Jordan Briault on a 32-yard strike, the Cougars committed three costly penalties on the Rebels first drive and when Cooper Wood bulled in from the one it was 7-7.
However, the Cougars defence tightened up and the offence continued to dominate as they rolled to a 56-19 victory at Great Chief Park Thursday.
“Defensively, especially with those penalties, we were a bit sloppy early on,” said Cougars head coach Gino Castellan. “But I thought overall our kids did a good job.”
The biggest play in the game came early in the second quarter with the Cougars up 14-7. The Rebels recovered a fumble deep in the Notre Dame half, but two plays later Steven LaGrange picked off Rebels quarterback Braydon Friesen on the Cougars 15 and ran it back 58 yards. Three plays later the Cougars were ahead 21-7 thanks to Briault, who recovered a fumble in the end zone after Myles Corsiatto had the ball punched out on the three.
“I would like to see the replay on the play (prior to the interception) in the end zone as I thought it was pass interference, but on the next play they get the interception and the game was over,” said Rebels head coach Vance Curtis. “But they were well-deserving of the win. They have depth across the board and they controlled the lines.”
The Cougars stretched the lead 35-7 at the half and Castellan was already using his bench.
“I got everyone in. We used three quarterbacks, which was great experience for them,” Castellan said. “Next week we’ll have a tougher test regardless if it’s Lacombe or Stettler and some of the kids won’t get as much chance to play.”
Castellan also knows they won’t be able to make as many mistakes either.
“Certainly we can’t make those mental mistakes. We need a clean game and have to be more focused and into it.”
He felt the players may have been looking beyond the Rebels.
“I thought they had an idea they’d win, but that’s no excuse. Vance does a great job with that team and their kids don’t quit. They’re young and come at you hard until the end.”
The Rebels are one of the youngest teams in the league and two of their leading running backs — Zach Hazen and Cooper Wood — are in Grade 10.
“We have our returning off for next year,” said Curtis. “We have four O linemen back, so it’s promising.”
Briault finished with three touchdowns while Corsiatto had two and Dustin Schaber, Ryan Davis and Colin LaGrange added one each. Luis Moreno kicked eight converts.
Wood had two touchdowns and Hazen one for the Rebels with Devin Chatenay kicking a convert.
Corsiatto finished with 142 yards rushing on 12 carries with LaGrange collecting 83 yards on eight tries. Pruden connected on eight of 14 passes for 229 yards with Briault grabbing three passes for 98 yards.
Hazen rushed for 66 yards on four carries while Wood had 38 yards on 10 tries. Friesen hit on five of eight passes for 76 with Hazen grabbing four passes for 58 yards.
The Rebels go into the consolation side prior to playing in the Tier IV provincials.
“This would have been a major thing for us to win, but we did some good things and got a chance to see three quarterbacks,” said Curtis. “We saw some different things and hopefully we can utilize them down the road.”
Playoff action continues today with Lacombe at Stettler and Lindsay Thurber hosts Ponoka at Great Chief Park in the battle between the two fifth-place teams in each pool. Both games go at 4 p.m.