By Greg Price
In hopes of a long playoff run, Friday’s match up against the Claresholm Raiders showed what the team can expect for Tier IV.
The Rebels were upended 24-1 at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park with head coach Adam Hughes noting the team was able to draw positives from.
“There is a potential that we play them again, so it’s always good to get some familiarity with them, it takes away some nerves from when you first play them,” said Hughes. “It is easy to be daunted by them, especially seeings how Claresholm has blown out a lot of teams. It would have been easy for us to be intimidated.”
In the 24-1 lopsided score, the Raiders were able to shell shock the Rebels with 16 of the Raiders points coming within two minutes of the half.
“If we took out that brain freeze, we would have been playing them even and we lost key personnel early,” said Hughes, adding the Rebels were torched by some blown coverages that led to quick scores, coupled with a safety right before half-time. “If we can stay healthy and stay composed for the full 48 minutes we can compete. They are a beatable team. That’s what I was looking for. I was curious to see if this was going to be a massacre or if this was a team we could compete with.”
Hughes estimates the Rebels were able to generate around two hundred yards of offence in which the team was able to move the ball at times.
“It’s not like we were having two-and-outs. We only had two, two-and-outs the whole game and it was near the end when we were trying to throw the ball more. We were getting lots of first downs,” said Hughes. “But the problem is our offence isn’t very explosive. We are a really grinding team and the problem with that is when a longer drive goes on, the higher the likelihood a broken play or a penalty can happen that will stall the drive.”
The Rebels’ defence made some adjustments in the second half and was able to hold the Raiders to one point, giving the team something to build on as it heads into Tier IV playoffs this weekend.
“The boys calmed down, we had a good chat with them at half-time telling them to have fun and worrying about their own responsibility,” said Hughes. “The kids played 100 times better. I hope we get to play them again because that would mean we are in the zone final.”
The Rebels now prepare for the Kate Andrews Pride in the first round of playoffs which Football Alberta is dubbing the Game of the Week as the number-five provincially ranked Pride battle the seventh-ranked Rebels in Tier IV this Friday at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park at 7 p.m.
“We will be missing likely a couple of key guys, but like any sport, it’s the next couple of guys in. It’s going to be a tough game,” said Hughes. “We’re excited to see how we do against them. It’s always interesting to play a team at the beginning of the year and at the end to show how much you have improved and how much they have improved. We have put in a lot of new systems on offence and defence. I’m excited and confident in our first playoff game.”