LACOMBE — The Sylvan Lake Lakers could only wonder what might have been.
With the ball on the 25-yard line of the Ardrossan Bisons and needing less than a yard on a third-down play with two minutes remaining in the game, Lakers quarterback Skylar Selk was nailed for a slight loss. The Bisons took over, ran out the clock with a grinding ground game and held on for a 21-14 victory in a provincial tier 3 high school football semifinal Monday at MEGlobal Athletic Park.
The sixth-ranked Bisons will face the No. 2 Cardston Cougars in the Alberta final Friday in Calgary.
“I think we needed a foot. We didn’t get it and just before the play I said to my coaches ‘if we don’t get this we probably don’t deserve to win’,” said Lakers head coach Jeremy Braitenback. “We didn’t make it but I don’t think it just came down to that. There are other plays that make a game and we didn’t make them and they did, especially in the second half.”
The Lakers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on scoring runs of eight and 52 yards by Landon Rosene — who rushed for 250 yards in total — and a pair of converts from Aden Smaill.
But a lack of discipline on the part of the Lakers helped the Bisons rally for a pair of second-quarter majors on a 16-yard run by Riley Brooks and a one-yard push by Mitchell Stevens.
Ardrossan scored the go-ahead touchdown when Brooks dove over the line from one yard out with 1:50 left in the third quarter and the Lakers couldn’t find a way back.
“We were not disciplined, especially in the first half,” said Braitenback. “We kind of had them on the ropes when it was 14-0 and I think penalties let them back in the game. That gave them the momentum and they just carried it through the second half.”
Rosene, who set up the Lakers’ late opportunity with a 43-yard gain on a hook-and-ladder play, felt that his club simply gave the game away.
“I just felt like we screwed up after the second quarter. We just went downhill,” he said. “We just collapsed. We got too cocky I think.”
Despite the setback that ended their season, the Lakers could take solace in the fact they were Central Alberta League finalists — losing to the Hunting Hills Lightning in the championship game— and also advanced to the second round of the tier 3 provincials with a 30-26 win over the host St. Paul Lions Nov. 9.
“It wasn’t a bad year, but I’d rather be going to the final,” said Rosene, who carried the ball 23 times.
“I think we exceeded a lot of people’s expectations,” added Braitenback, “We had strong teams the last couple of years and these guys weren’t expected to be as good, but they responded. We’re proud of them.”
Selk completed seven of 15 passes for 66 yards, including four to Josh Barrie for 43 yards. Bisons quarterback Kyle Boyko threw for 202 yards, with Brett Enns hauling in a pair of balls for a team-best 60 yards.
Brooks was Ardrossan’s leading rusher with 99 yards.
Sylvan Lake was penalized for 95 yards, as opposed to 40 for Ardrossan.
l Earlier in the day at MEGlobal Athletic Park, the top-ranked Rimbey Spartans skinned the Breton Cougars 56-24 in the north regional six-man final and will take on the Edmonton Millwoods Christian Royals in the provincial championship game Friday at 11 a.m. at Calgary’s Shouldice Park.
Millwoods, ranked third in the province, defeated the Caroline Cougars 53-26 in the south final during the weekend.