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Mustangs' season comes to a close with heavy loss to HTA Knights

With a smaller roster and some battered and bruised subs on the sidelines, Glass said it was tough for the Mustangs to keep up as the Knights' offence piled on the pressure.

A crushing blow capped off what was otherwise a memorable 2021 season for the George McDougall Mustangs football team on Nov. 5.

Taking on the Holy Trinity Academy (HTA) Knights for a spot in the Football Alberta Tier II provincial quarterfinals, the Mustangs were shut out 39-0 at Shouldice Athletic Park in Calgary.

After nine straight weeks of consecutive games and daily practices for George McDougall, the well-drilled Knights’ bigger roster paid dividends, resulting in a one-sided contest from the get-go, according to Mustangs head coach Chris Glass.

“After last week, we were a pretty beat up football team,” Glass said, referencing George McDougall’s overtime loss to the Cochrane Cobras in the Rocky View Sports Association championship game on Oct. 29. “[HTA] came ready to play and were fresh.

“It showed we went through war last week. It's been a grind of a season. We only had 32 guys, so it was tough to match that after being so beat up. We were hiding a lot of injuries.”

The Knights showed little mercy from the opening kick-off, as the 2019 Tier II provincial championship-defending squad from Okotoks put 32 points past the shell-shocked Mustangs in the first half. Slotback Michael Eagle Bear was the catalyst for HTA’s strong showing, scoring three touchdowns in the rout, including a 43-yard punt return.

With a smaller roster and some battered and bruised subs on the sidelines, Glass said it was tough for the Mustangs to keep up as the Knights' offence piled on the pressure.

“We play so hard and physical,” Glass said. “You can play that way when you have 60 guys, but it's tough to do when you have so few on the bench. But HTA is a great football team. Michael Eagle Bear, I can't wait to watch him play at the next level. He was unreal today. He's just a tremendous football player.”

While the Mustangs defence limited the Knights' scoring to one touchdown in the second half, HTA's lead was too insurmountable to stage a comeback in the final 24 minutes. A sturdy defensive line for HTA often prevented the Mustangs from moving the chains or coming within scoring distance.

Despite the impending loss, Glass touted his players' never-say-die attitude throughout the second half.

“We didn't quit. We never quit, he said. “We kept going, kept fighting. A lot of these guys would rather get carried off the field than give up – and a lot of them were.”

The loss means the Mustangs end the 2021 season with a 8-2 overall record. After finishing the regular season unbeaten in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA), George McDougall's first defeat of the campaign came in the RVSA championship game, as they fell in overtime to the Cochrane Cobras. 

Seasonal highlights included beating the Cobras in the regular season for the first time in seven years, maintaining a position on Football Alberta's top-10 rankings among Tier II high-school teams, and winning both the Airdrie Bowl game against the Bert Church Chargers and the inaugural West Side Championship match-up with the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers.

Glass said the season “turned around the culture,” for the Mustangs football program, after a lacklustre showing in 2019.

“It showed we're the best team in Airdrie and we're going to continue that for the next little while,” he said. “We have a great crop of bantam kids coming up. This team will be the one that turns the tide for a long time.”

Chargers claim third

Also on Nov. 5, the Bert Church Chargers football team ended their 2021 season on a positive note, beating the Springbank Phoenix 16-10 in overtime to claim third place in the RVSA playoffs.

Chargers head coach Tony Lucas said the team's last two games of the regular season were nail-biters, against Croxford and the Phoenix. He said the Chargers were 10-9 up over the Phoenix, but Springbank were able to tie it up with a single on the final play of the game.

In overtime, Lucas said the Chargers managed to score a touchdown on a punt return in order to claim the win.

"We ended up winning 16-10, which was very exciting because the player who scored the TD is a Grade 12 who was just finishing off his football [career with the Chargers]," he said. "Mitch Dziaduck, who is one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet, so we ended up giving him the game ball.”

While Lucas said the Chargers' final two games were mostly just for consolation, he said they proved to be quite memorable for the Grade 12 players who are graduating from the school's football program this year.

"We came from down 16 to beat Croxford on a field goal with nine seconds to go last week, and then there was this game as well," he said. "For the Grade 12s, it meant a lot. It’s nice to be able to finish your season with a win.

"But I think for our Grade 10s and 11s, it’s even bigger because they know they can stick in these games in the future, when it’s close or we’re behind."

Croxford ends season in fifth

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers overcame the Chestermere Lakers 21-7 for their third win of the 2021 season, in the league's fifth-place consolation game. 

“It was nice to finish on a high,” said Josiah Donahue, the Cavaliers' head coach. “We've been improving so much as a team. Last week against Bert Church, we had a real barn-burner that went to the final second, when they beat us on a last-second field goal. [The game against Chestermere] was a tight game, and then we turned on the jets in the third quarter to win 21-7.”

MJ Doyle-Marshall scored all three TDs for the Cavaliers, according to Donahue, while Coben Wallace sealed the deal with a field goal in the fourth quarter.

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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