A season of rebuilding for the Chestermere Lakers football team came to a close Nov. 2, with a 38-7 loss to the Springbank Phoenix in the Rocky View Sports Association’s (RVSA) “B” playoff final.
While senior slot back Nathan Porterfield caught an early touchdown pass to give Chestermere a 7-0 lead, the Phoenix came back with a TD right before halftime. That propelled Springbank to an energetic second-half, during which the team scored 32 unanswered points to come away with an easy victory.
“It was 7-6 for us at halftime, so we played really well in the first half before falling apart a little bit in the second half,” said head coach Scott Ledieu. “It was good to be competitive in the first half and see some of our Grade 12s – who were playing their last game – have some success.”
The defeat marked the team’s second time losing to the Phoenix in 2019. During the regular season, Springbank – last year’s runner-up in the RVSA – shut out Chestermere 42-0.
“We haven’t played [Springbank] very tough in the last couple of years, so it was nice to have a half of success against them,” Ledieu said. “Hopefully, in the future, we can make that last a little longer than one half.”
The loss to Springbank means the Lakers – which finished sixth in the RVSA last year after winning just a single game – ended the season in fourth place with a 3-6 overall record.
Though there is still room for improvement, Ledieu said the message to his players after the final game was that the team is on the up.
“We kind of reminded the guys we had one win in Rocky View last year, and we had [three] this year, so, it was certainly a step forward,” he said.
“We reiterated that it was a culture-building year and a bounce-back year. We used it to become a more competitive program.”
The Lakers put forward a young roster in 2019 that included twice as many Grade-10 players as seniors. Despite the lack of experience, sophomore players stepped up to the plate all season long, with the likes of running backs Braidon Risdon and Tyson Kolesar-Lefaut scoring many of Chestermere’s touchdowns.
On the defensive side, Grade-10 linemen Andrew Morris, Brody Holladay and James Power showed their muscle on multiple occasions, according to Ledieu.
“We have a lot of building blocks, moving forward,” he said.
The Lakers also boasted plenty of Grade-11 players, including starting quarterback Logan Bennett and receiver Connor Mughal, whom Ledieu said will be leaned on next year, in their final season.
With most of Chestermere’s players returning in 2020, Ledieu said, the Lakers should continue building towards becoming a competitive force in the division.
“It’s always tough to replace a guy like Nathan Porterfield, Dylan Lepka or Jake Taffs,” he said, of three of his graduating players. “But, every year, we seem to have kids who take that step from Grade 11 to Grade 12 and step into those key roles.”