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Cochrane Cobras Pickard, Patterson show out for Team Alberta in B.C.

Christmas came early for Cobras football centre Jacob Patterson and defensive halfback Tate Pickard, who were selected for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent Team Alberta against B.C. teams in Langley Dec. 20-21.

Christmas came early for Cochrane Cobras football centre Jacob Patterson and defensive halfback Tate Pickard, who were selected for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to represent Team Alberta against B.C. teams in Langley Dec. 20 and 21.

Both players, who competed in Football Alberta's Summer Series in Red Deer last year, earned their stripes to compete against other top-tier players on Alberta's U18 and U17 teams after being recognized for their performances in the summer games.

"It was a phenomenal feeling and quite the achievement, I think, especially for someone from such a small town, to be noticed by such a big team," said Patterson, who, in his final year of high school, also served as a captain for the provincial championship-winning Cobras. 

"It was an amazing feeling being out there wearing the Alberta shield on my shoulder, doing what I do best."

Patterson joined Team Alberta's U18 roster, and although their team lost to the U18 B.C. team 14-20, he said the competition was on another level in comparison to the Rocky View School Sports Association, and proved to be a great learning experience in the end.

"I'm about 6-2, 210 pounds – that's not very big for an offensive lineman," he said. "On the Cobras, I was a pretty good size – not quit the biggest, not quite the smallest guy there."

Playing for Team Alberta was a different story, he said.

"I was probably four inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter than everyone else," Patterson recalled. "I was definitely undersized for my position, but it just goes to show that bigger is not always better."

Patterson and Pickard capped their 2021 season with the Cobras on a high note, beating their provincial rivals the Lloydminster Holy Rosary Raiders for the Tier III Alberta football championship title at the beginning of December.

To then play for Team Alberta was the cherry on top of a storied high school football career for 17-year-old Patterson.

"It was pretty cool to know that I had one more football game to play no matter what," he said.  "After our championship game, as much of a rush as it was, it was also very emotional. For a lot of the Grade 12 guys, that was their last time wearing the Cobras jersey, and some guys’ last time ever putting on a football jersey."

Pickard's older brother, Ethan, who played quarterback for the Cobras, was among those to hang up his high school jersey after the game.

Much like Patterson, who played Cochrane Minor Football with the Lions for two years before signing on to the Cobras in Grade 10, 16-year-old Pickard also played for the minor team.

While he was not joined by his brother to represent Team Alberta, Pickard said it was still a nice feeling to know his fellow teammate and captain would be facing B.C. alongside him. 

"It was comfortable having him there, having someone to always talk to and ask questions," he said. "With him being a captain and a senior on our old team, it was great to experience it together."

Pickard played for the U17 team representing Alberta, which also lost to B.C. in a final score of 16-27.

While he, like many of the Cobras, has missed out on an entire season of competitive football due to COVID-19, Pickard said he accredits much of their continued success in the sport — and the opportunity to be selected for such opportunities — to the team's unmatched program and the coaches who implement it day in and day out.

"There's no other team like it," he said. "Especially being coached by Tom Knitter, it's just amazing — he knows everything about everything."

Knitter previously played for the Cobras and then went on to play for the University of Calgary Dinos and Calgary Colts in the Canadian Junior Football League.

For both Pickard and Patterson, who are nearing the end of their high school careers, they both hope to follow a similar path as Knitter to reach their full capabilities in the sport.

"That's been the goal for a while," said Pickard. "Team Alberta was just a steppingstone and hopefully getting a university offer will be the cherry on top."

 

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