Two games into the 2019 Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) season, and the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers football team is still searching for a win.
“We have a lot of new-to-football kids, so we’re finding our lane and finding out how to play the sport,” said offensive co-ordinator Steve Kemp. “We have great athletes and great size, but we just need to learn how to play the game. We’re getting better every time.”
The Cavs started off the 2019 campaign Sept. 6 with a tough battle against the Cochrane Cobras – the perennial powerhouse in the RVSA. Croxford fared well against the five-time reigning RVSA and Tier 3 Alberta champion, but ultimately fell 47-7.
The next game was similarly difficult Sept. 13, as Croxford took on the Springbank Phoenix – the RVSA runner-up for the last three years. Playing at Springbank Community High School, the Phoenix won 16-2.
“We went up against the two top teams from last year and felt we did some really positive things,” Kemp said. “We feel we’re trending in the right direction and building towards something.”
Despite being on the wrong end of the scoreboard, Kemp said his players did well against a well-drilled Phoenix team that came into the game on the back of a week’s rest, following a dominant 44-6 victory over the George McDougall Mustangs.
“This was their homecoming game, so they came out fired up and full of energy,” he said. “We didn’t match it right away and they were able to get a couple of turnovers on us.”
Springbank fed off the liveliness of the large crowd to take a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes, with Kade Baldwin and Jack O’Brien scoring touchdowns. The rest of the game was a fairly easy one for the scorekeepers, as the only points came from safeties recorded by both teams.
“We managed to settle things down and make some plays,” Kemp said.
The Cavaliers football program enjoyed its best season yet in 2018, with a 4-4 overall record. However, the team graduated several key players in June, including quarterback Keagan Henderson, receivers Jamal Bacchus and Nolan Phillips, and defensive back Keegan Proudlock.
In their absence, Kemp said, the Cavaliers’ success will have to be a full-team effort.
“You look at our offensive line, it’s quite large and we’re really leaning on those big guys and putting them to work,” he said. “You can’t replace everybody, but you work as a team and 12-man unit to replace everyone.”
The team’s new starting pivot is Blake Kleisinger, in Grade 11. Despite being new to football, Kemp said, he has taken to the sport quickly.
“He’s a great athlete and very smart,” he said. “He’s picking the playbook up very quickly and being a leader in the huddle.”
The Cavaliers return to the field Sept. 21 for a cross-town battle against the Mustangs, with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park. George McDougall is having an uncharacteristically poor season thus far, having lost all three of its games by a combined score of 169-12.
“We got the two best teams out of the way and now we’re onto an [easier] slope, so I think we’re going to do good,” Kleisinger said.
Bert Church cracks top 10
While two of Airdrie’s teams are yet to win a game this season, the Bert Church Chargers is off to a thrilling start, with a 2-0 record and a combined score of 108-6.
After dismantling the Mustangs in the Airdrie Bowl Sept. 6, the Chargers kept the unbeaten streak going with another dominant display – a 34-0 win Sept. 12 over the Chestermere Lakers. The victory catapulted the Chargers into the top-10 rankings for Tier 2 programs in Alberta.
Bert Church will look to make it three straight wins Sept. 21, when the team takes on the Bow Valley Bobcats. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park.