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Football season enters playoff mode

The 2019 high-school football season for Rocky View County teams has entered the homestretch, with the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) playoffs just around the corner.

The Chestermere Lakers will once again contest for the RVSA “B” championship, due to its 2-4 record narrowly keeping the team out of the top four.

“We’ve had our ups and downs,” head coach Scott Ledieu said.

The Lakers suffered a third consecutive defeat Oct. 4, falling 43-27 to the George McDougall Mustangs, before the team rallied back at home Oct. 10, defeating the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers 27-9 at Utley Field.

“We all came together as a team," said senior slotback Nathan Porterfield, who scored two touchdowns. "Our defense stuck through and our offence was moving down the field and scoring. Overall, it was a pretty good game.”

While the Lakers trailed the Cavs 9-6 late in the third quarter, three touchdown catches in the final frame propelled the home team to victory in its final regular-season fixture. Ryan Grabmuller, Porterfield and Connor Mughal all made it onto the scoresheet.

“[Mughal] is a Grade 11, and we sort of need to have players in that grade step up every year, so we know we can lean on them for the next year,” Ledieu said. “He’s done a really good job in the last couple of weeks. He had a stinker a couple of weeks ago, but has done nothing but respond positively since that.”

Chestermere was looking to use 2019 as a bounce-back season, following the team’s disappointing 1-7 record last year. But with just nine Grade-12s on the roster – and twice as many first-year players – producing wins has proven difficult.

After being shut out 78-0 by the Cochrane Cobras in the season-opener, the Lakers’ first victory of 2019 came Sept. 6 in a dominant 40-0 shutout of the winless Bow Valley Bobcats. The win was followed by a three-game losing streak, in which Chestermere conceded 119 points, while scoring just 27. 

“Our scores haven’t been very flattering, but we’ve been moving in the right direction for most of the season,” Ledieu said.

The team's win over W.H. Croxford meant the Lakers finished the regular season in fifth place of the seven-team RVSA standings. While the Lakers had the same 2-4 record as the Mustangs and the Cavaliers, the Cavs snuck into the A pool with a better points-differential.

“We’re all feeling pretty good – we’re getting more comfortable throughout the season, and we’re ready for playoffs," Porterfield said.

The Lakers will kick off its "B" pool playoff run Oct. 25 or 26, against either the Mustangs or the Bobcats.

On the other side of the county, the Springbank Phoenix has experienced its own ups and downs. After finishing second in the RVSA for the past three seasons, the Phoenix was stunned by two consecutive defeats that pipped the team from its usual spot in the league standings.

Springbank started the year strong, with three wins on the trot, before the Phoenix experienced its first loss of the season in Week 4, when it fell 35-7 to the Cochrane Cobras. The Green and White was unable to shake off the defeat a week later, when the squad fell 21-13 in a tight battle against the Bert Church Chargers.

The loss to Bert Church – which has enjoyed its strongest season in recent memory – pushed the Phoenix out of Football Alberta’s top-10 rankings for Tier 2 teams in the province.

Springbank rounded out its regular-season schedule Oct. 11 (after press time) against the winless Bow Valley Bobcats. Regardless of the result, the Phoenix’s three wins at the early stage of the season will be enough to ensure the team competes in the RVSA “A” playoffs.

While dates, times and locations were not finalized before press time, the RVSA post-season will kick off Oct. 18 or 19. The division’s “A” championship game will be held Oct. 25 or 26, while the consolation “B” championship game will take place in early November.