May 18th, 2024

Coyotes top the Cougars

By Dale Woodard on October 23, 2021.

The Chinook Coyotes have literally ground out the right to play for another day.

Facing the Catholic Central Cougars in the Southern Alberta High School Football League Tier II playoff Friday night at the University of Lethbridge Stadium, the Coyotes topped the Cougars 14-3 in a grind fest.

In a game that was much closer than the Coyotes 48-7 regular season win over the Cougars Oct. 1, Chinook was able to make a first half touchdown from Turner Jean-Baptist and a third quarter major from Gage Blasco count on their way to the low-scoring win that earns the Coyotes a trip to Cardston to face the other Cougars this Friday for the SAHSFL final.

“It feels great,” said Blasco. “Our schools have had a rivalry since we opened. We had never beat CCH until this year and coming out with a ‘W’ twice this year and beating them out in the first round of playoffs feels great.”

After a slow start and some fumbles and fumble recoveries on both sides, the Coyotes broke through with 8:26 left in the first quarter as Jean-Baptist went for a 46-yard romp and a 7-0 lead.

The Cougars nearly drew even with 5:58 to go in the half, but Adam Schaupmeyer was unable to haul in a pass in the end zone.

Catholic Central settled for a field goal as Grady Hay split the uprights from 25-yards out to make it 7-3 at the half.

“I think we had a bit of a slow start,” said Coyotes head coach Nick Straat. “We had one good play in the first half, but a bit of a slow start. But we ground it out, our boys played defence hard all game and eventually were able to move the ball. Once we were able to pass the ball a little bit or sort of ease up their defence, we were able to run the ball a little bit at the end to get that last touchdown to finish it off.”

A partially-blocked kick put the Coyotes on the Cougars 25-yard line with 2:43 remaining in the third quarter.

Chinook gambled on a third-and-five as Aiden Fletcher hauled in a pass to keep the drive alive before Blasco plunged in from 10 yards out for a little insurance in the final minute of the third quarter.

“On both teams, the defence was great. The line played hard and we got a bigger gap,” said Blasco of his major, adding the Cougars made some adjustments to keep the rematch closer. “The last game we came out with a new formation and a lot more runs up the middle and they stacked the middle this game. It was hard to get through.”

Straat noted a much more physical Catholic Central crew than the one they faced at the beginning the month.

“Their defence was definitely set up to stop how we were running. It looked like they had extra linebackers in there instead of defensive backs. They were stacking the line and were blitzing like crazy.”

“It took us a while to adjust to it, for sure. That’s why they did so well in the first half and then we started picking up some blocks and were able to get some runs together and get some scores.”

And Blasco’s TD sealed the deal.

“It was huge because it’s less than a score before that,” said Straat. “So him coming in and getting that good run play and finishing off that drive, it sealed the game for us and put us on to next week.”

Now, the Coyotes get ready to head to Cardston not only for the SASHFL final and the right to advance to the South Zone final against Medicine Hat the following week, but also the chance to avenge their only loss of the season, a 28-13 setback Sept. 3.

Blasco is looking forward to being a part of next week’s game.

“It was our first game of the year and I was out with a broken leg, but I’m back now and we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “We’re a way better team than we were at the beginning of the year.”

“We’re really excited,” added Straat. “Right now with our record, that’s our only loss. We lost by two scores and it was a physical game. They’re a good team in Cardston, but it was our first game of the season and I think we’ve come a lot way since then.

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