Ponoka makes return to 12-man football
Over the last five years the Ponoka Broncs competed in the 6-man football league with an eye on returning to the Central Alberta High School Football League.
This year seemed like the right time.
“We were ready to take that step,” said Broncs head coach Scott McGregor. “We played five years in the 6-man league and moving up we’re able to get more players involved in the game, plus the staff was ready.”
The Broncs, who return to the league for the first time in 30 years, saw their first action in the Central Alberta league Thursday as they lost 53-0 in an exhibition game against the Hunting Hills Lightning in Ponoka.
McGregor knows it will take time to adjust to the league, but couldn’t be happier with what he’s seen so far in camp.
“We had 44 players in our spring camp and have 39 now and we’re happy with that,” he said. “We have athletes and I know we fall short in terms of experience I feel we can compete.”
McGregor has 12 players returning from last year’s 6-man squad, which lost in the provincial quarter-finals to Buck Mountain.
“We have a lot of new guys, but they’re coming together and we’re proud of their work ethic and attitude,” said McGregor, who credits the 6-man league for their development.
“You have to credit the league for fast-tracking us to reach this point so quickly,” added McGregor. “That league has a free-wheeling style of football, something that will help the returning kids to fit into the Central Alberta league that much quicker.”
The Broncs’ offensive line is close to be intact from last season but have a new quarterback in Grade 11 Ruger Dye and running back in Grade 10 Carlos Rodriguez.
‘We have a couple of returnees in the backfield, but we’re counting on Carlos to lead the way,” said McGregor, who knows the defence will be key for his team’s success.
“The defensive side needs to be our strength if we want to have success,” he said. “As for the offence we hope it continue to progress as we go along.”
McGregor, who is one of eight coaches on the staff, hopes to start a bantam program in the near future.
“We’re working on it. It’s important in developing a strong program.”
McGregor grew up in Pigeon Lake and played hockey as a youngster. He played with the Augustana University in Camrose and moved on to senior. He’s been teaching for 15 years and has also coached 3A girls’ volleyball.
The Broncs see their first regular season action Sept. 14 at Rocky Mountain House. They host Lacombe an exhibition play Sept. 21 and have their first regular season home opener, Sept. 28 against Stettler.