Local teams back on the gridiron for fall season
The Cochrane Cobras nearly won it all last season, including a divisional title and a regional title.
The only prize that eluded them was a provincial title, as they lost in the Tier III final to the Stettler Wildcats. With a new season in front of them, the Cobras are looking to return to the top and return home with the provincial championship.
“We’re back at it and we want to get back to that championship game,” said Cobras Head Coach Rob McNab.
The Cobras had 13 players graduate after last season, including slotback Eric Patterson, quarterback Cooper Hamaliuk, fullback Kristian Root, defensive end Coleton Miller and running back Kellen Forrest, but McNab is expecting the new senior players to step into the shoes of those who have left. The 30 returning players are going to help shore a solid defence core and help lead the rookies, according to McNab.
“Our defence is going to play very well this year,” he said. “Our offence is a bit younger and that will be a bit tricky for us, but I think they’re going to get into the groove quickly.”
The experience of the returning players, all of which accompanied the Cobras on their run to the provincial final last year, will also be invaluable McNab said. It gave them an extra month on the field and a hunger to win, which he hopes carried into this season.
“There’s no question (it will help),” he said. “Having those four extras games and four hard games that you have to prepare for, you don’t get that experience anywhere else. Even that experience of losing the final, the kids seem very motivated not to repeat that.”
The Cobras will host Bert Church in its opening game of the season, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m., and McNab knows the first game will be a worthy test and set the tone for the rest of the fall.
“Bert Church always plays us tough,” he said. “They’re a physical team. I’m not sure what to expect our of them, just that they’re going to bring it. They keep progressing every year.”
On the other side of the field, the Bert Church Chargers are looking to improve on last year’s 2-4 record.
“Anything about .500 would be great,” Chargers Head Coach Andy Kirk said. “The kids are a real dedicated group. We have a great core of guys in terms of their personality and leadership ability. We are going to be a young group this year, though. There are quite a few that have never even played.”
Kirk called the team’s previous games against Cochrane “character building” and a learning experience.
“Any time you play Cochrane you can learn from it,” he said. “We want to maintain our disincline and focus on the things we need to improve on.”
Four other teams are opening their seasons in the Rocky View Sports Association’s (RVSA) first week of football. On Sept. 14, the defending divisional champions, the Springbank Phoenix, will host the Chestermere Cowboys and the Bow Valley Bobcats will travel to Airdrie to take on the George McDougall Mustangs on Sept. 15.