The George McDougall Mustangs football team earned west-side bragging rights over the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers on Sept. 4, overtaking the Cavs 43-16 in the inaugural West Side Championship game.
The rivalry game – launched this year to celebrate the local rivalry between the two high school football programs on the west side of Airdrie – also marked the season-opener for both teams, who compete in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA).
As a result of their victory, the Mustangs took home a WWE-style championship belt, emblazoned with the logos of the two teams and the City of Airdrie insignia.
“The West Side Championship was a huge success,” said Mustangs head coach Chris Glass after the game. “I think the guys were excited to be back on the field, and it was going to be a matter of which team started to get back to feeling the way they did originally.”
He added the win over Croxford secured George McDougall the eighth spot in Football Alberta’s top-10 rankings for Tier 2 high school football teams – the Mustangs' first time on the weekly updated top-10 list since the 2018 season.
According to Glass, the Mustangs got off to a strong start in the contest – their first official game in more than 22 months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and quickly took an authoritative 20-point lead. Backed by a large and enthusiastic crowd in the Ed Eggerer Athletic Park stands, Glass said his players managed to hold onto the lead with a solid performance.
“Both are talented teams and both are well coached,” he said. “We didn’t make a lot of mistakes and were able to capitalize on some early turnovers and turn them into points. Once you build up a little bit of a lead, it’s tough [for the other team] to get that back.”
Glass cited the performances of three senior players in particular – quarterback Adam Mosher, defensive end Elias Conde and centre Peter Doerksen – in helping the Mustangs secure the win. Mosher threw for three touchdowns and ran one ball into the end zone himself, according to Glass, while Conde came up big on defence, forcing two fumbles at key moments in the game.
As for Doerksen, Glass said the Grade 12 centre helped keep his teammates composed and demonstrated strong leadership.
“Normally, centres don’t get a lot of love, but he ended up playing both ways for most of the game on the defensive line too, and was a force there,” Glass said. “He really stood out as a leader and helped calm people down on the field, and that calmness helped us not make mistakes.”
Cavaliers head coach Josiah Donahue reiterated Glass' comments, saying it took some time for the young Croxford squad to find their feet.
“A lot of our own mistakes hurt us at the start of the game,” he said. “We have a lot of young players, with this being their first time playing football, so it was a learning experience and we had to deal with some adversity to start. We got into the game after that point, but it’s hard to come back from a 20-0 [deficit] in the first five minutes of the game.”
Donahue called the loss a learning experience, adding it provided the Cavaliers an idea of how and in what areas they need to improve.
“Hopefully we don’t put ourselves in a hole like that again,” he said. “But once we settled down and got into the flow of the game, we definitely played a lot better.”
Now 0-1, Croxford will look to secure their first win of 2021 on Sept. 10, with a game against the Springbank Phoenix. Kick-off is set for 4 p.m. at the Ed Eggerer Athletic Park.
Next up for the Mustangs, meanwhile, will be an exhibition game Sept. 10 against the Dr. E.P. Scarlett Lancers, from Calgary. Following that is the annual Airdrie Bowl match-up against the Bert Church Chargers on Sept. 17.
Glass said kicking off the RVSA season with games against the two other Airdrie teams was the best possible start, when it comes to motivating the Mustangs players.
“The excitement of playing Croxford was huge,” he said. “They’re a strong program and we know all those guys. It’s no different with Bert Church. They have some young good players and it’s going to be exciting to see some friendly faces on the sidelines.”