Cochrane Cobras defeat Springbank Phoenix in season opener
It was a battle of past champions. The reigning Tier I champions, the Cochrane Cobras, defeated the Springbank Phoenix, last year’s top Tier II team, 27-10 in the Cobras’ first game of the season in Cochrane Sept. 22.
It was a less-than-desired start for the Cobras in the first quarter. The team gave up four turnovers and were down 3-2 early, but similar mistakes began to add up for the Phoenix, swinging the momentum in Cochrane’s favour. Two touchdowns and two field goals in a dominant second quarter by the Cobras, plus two scores late in the game, put it out of reach for Springbank.
Cobras Head Coach Rob McNab was satisfied with the win, but not with the amount of errors the team committed.
“They’re a hard-hitting, blitzing team and we knew that coming in,” he said. “We have to protect the ball. This week we didn’t do the job and make sure all the details were taken care of. We were turning the ball over uncharacteristically.”
Kyle Moortgat helped turn the game around for the Cobras by scoring two touchdowns and Justin Mount sealed the win with another score in the dying seconds of the game.
“We started off pretty slow,” Moortgat said. “Our head wasn’t in the game and we weren’t prepared. They came out hitting and we just sat there and waited. (Eventually) we realized that we were better than them. We just had to work harder and play better.”
While the Cobra offence struggled with turnovers, the defence kept the Phoenix off the scoreboard by targeting Springbank quarterback Levi Jackson.
“Our defence did a real good job,” McNab said.
“I don’t think he was able to complete many balls and he’s a good quarterback.”
A strong start that took advantage of Cochrane’s inability to hold on to the ball failed to translate into points for Springbank and the Cobras’ physicality became too much for the Phoenix to handle as the game wore on.
“We have to be able to take advantage of that offensively and we weren’t able to do that,” said Phoenix Head Coach Tony Lucas. “We weren’t passing the ball effectively and we were having trouble controlling the line of scrimmage. We didn’t have time to pass.”
It was a relatively young and inexperienced Springbank roster that took on the Cobras, but Lucas was pleased with how the team was able to handle a different, but talented, Cochrane team. The Cobras lost many of the top players that led them to Provincials last year, putting them on par with other league teams.
“I’ve been coaching at Springbank for seven or eight years and this was the first time it was a close game,” said Lucas.
“I didn’t feel like we beat ourselves. I felt like they beat us, they were a little better. In the past we’d come in and play so poorly that they didn’t have to do much to beat us.”
Springbank and Cochrane both visited Airdrie to open October. The Phoenix took on the Bert Church Chargers, Sept. 28, while Cochrane tried to extend its winning streak against the George McDougall Mustangs, Sept. 29.
Results were not available at press time.