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Notre Dame’s senior football season comes to an end after provincial playoff loss

Cougars hosted the Legends from Calgary
The Notre Dame Cougars hosted the All Saints Cougars for a provincial playoff matchup at Setters Place on Saturday in Red Deer. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Legends 42 Notre Dame 7

All good things must come to an end.

And on Saturday for the Notre Dame Cougars senior football team, their season officially came to a close.

The Cougars experienced a tough 42-7 loss at Setters Place in Red Deer to the All Saints Legends from Calgary in the provincial southern semi-finals of the Larry Wilson Division.

Cougars head coach Ian Rattan said it never feels good to lose and he feels horrible for his eight graduating players but at the end of the day, only one team can make it out victorious.

“We came out to flat. We started out not too bad. We got it to 10-7 and thought we were right in the game but we just had a few too many mental mistakes in the first half,” he said. “We just couldn’t recover from it and that’s a great team. I still do feel like we have a very good football team over here we just made too many mistakes in opportune moments.”

Rattan encouraged his Grade 10 and 11 players to use the sting from the loss as motivation for next season and hopes the graduating players continue to play football after high school.

“I hope they use this defeat right now to give them a bit of a kick in the butt when they don’t want to do the hard stuff when they don’t want to do their workout or study for that exam,” he said.

“I hope they can just look at this and use it as fuel to drive them to be a better version of themselves every day because, at the end of the day, this is a game. This game is so great because it teaches so many life lessons.”

The Cougars had a slow start to the season but won a few games in the second half to claim the final playoff spot in the last week of the regular season. In the playoffs, the Cougars lost to the Stettler Wildcats, who went on to win the league final but still earned a home provincial playoff spot in the process.

Before the season, Rattan explained their goal was to compete for a zone championship but ultimately, the coaching staff wanted the team to show up and work hard every day and become good people. In Rattan’s eyes, his team achieved that goal.

“We lost a few guys [to injury] over the course of the season but the 36 guys and gals we ended up with I really do feel we’ve seen a lot of character growth. There was a lot of development and we have better human beings than we did at the start of the season,” he added.

The future of the team also looks promising as they’re hoping to return all of their Grade 10 and 11 players. However, the Notre Dame Jr. Cougars football team will be graduating their Grade 9 players who just completed an undefeated season and a league championship. The Jr. Cougars traveled to Medicine Hat on Saturday to play in the 2022 Tier 2 Bantam Provincial Finals where they lost to the Medicine Hat Jr. Hawks 67-33.

“If we can get all 16 or so of the Grade 9s that are graduating from that team that are competing right now for a provincial championship to move up and fill the void of the graduating Grade 12s we could have a nice thing coming here,” Rattan said.

“Offseason’s going to be long here but I can tell you right now I’m already looking forward to August 18, 2023, so we can get started on the next fall.”

On the road in Tier II play, the Hunting Hills Lightning knocked off Our Lady of the Rockies Grizzlies 48-7. They will host the number one ranked Holy Trinty Academy Knights at 2:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.

The fourth-ranked Sylvan Lake Lakers also advanced in Tier III action, with a convincing 50-6 victory over the Winston Churchill Bulldogs.

They will also play at Great Chief Park on Saturday afternoon, with kickoff slated for 12:00 p.m. against the number six ranked Strathmore Spartans.

Notre Dame Cougars player tries to tackle All Saints Legends kick returner during a provincial playoff matchup on Saturday at Setters Place. (Photo by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate staff)

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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