The leaves have changed colour and the air is crisp as football season has officially kicked off in central Alberta.
In the season opener of the Central Alberta Football League, the Stettler Wildcats blew out the Notre Dame Cougars 52-0 at Setters Place in Red Deer.
Wildcats head coach Norbert Baharally said his team was solid on both sides of the ball and played exceptionally well.
“We’ve got some young guys but we’ve got a good core of Grade 12s (14) as well so I expect we’ll have a good year and hopefully we stay healthy,” he said. “We talked about the defence trying to shut them out and not give up any points at halftime. These games are never fun to play for either side but at the end of the day we haven’t played these guys in like 12 months. We didn’t know what to expect and they didn’t know what to expect and the end result was good for us.”
Stettler opened the scoring less than 10 minutes into the first quarter with a 21-yard bomb to wide receiver Carter Kranzler. Just a few minutes later the Cougars moved the ball upfield with authority before Lucas Nelson threw an interception that was taken back to the endzone by Kyle Dennis to make it 14-0 for the Wildcats.
Stettler would continue to pile it in the dominant win as Kranzler finished with two touchdowns and 69 yards receiving. Meanwhile, Wildcats receiver Kyle Dennis also had a pair of touchdowns.
Baharally said it’s up to the senior players to put the team in a position to make sure the younger players can get some time on the field. He added it’s important for everyone to get some playing time to build some experience on the field.
“Once we do that I think we’ll be a better, stronger team by the end of the year when everybody can contribute,” Baharally said.
Cougars head coach Ian Rattan said his team made too many mistakes such as forcing the ball into tight coverage.
“It is what it is. The nice thing about this is there’s only one way to go from here, which is up,” Rattan said. “We got a short week, we play Sylvan on Thursday, we got to fix what we got to fix, and we have to come back ready to play… Our season isn’t defined by one game and we just got to get better. We tell our kids all the time it’s not how you react to what happens it’s how you react with what happens to you.”
He added the biggest issue they need to work out is simple, playing every down until the whistle blows.
“We have to go hard for those six to eight seconds they play is, stop, catch your breath, and go hard again. I don’t think we did that well tonight and we got to get better at that but we’ll be OK,” Rattan said.
Next up for the Cougars is a trip to Sylvan Lake on Thursday against H.J. Cody and Stettler will play at home against Lindsay Thurber on Friday.