Raiders lose heartbreaker in CAMFA finals
By: Lucas Punkari
| Posted: Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am
The Airdrie Raiders had its hands on its first Calgary and Area Midget Football Association (CAMFA) Division 1 title at Shouldice Park on May 30, only to see the Calgary Mavericks snatch it from them.
A 42-18 lead late in the third quarter was not enough for the Raiders to hang onto, as the Mavericks scored 28 unanswered points to win the 2014 championship game by a score of 46-42, which left many of the Raiders players in tears as the final buzzer sounded.
“I have no idea what to feel right now,” Raiders defensive back Deion Holder said.
“We were in the lead and we were staying composed, but once we stopped staying calm out there, they (the Mavericks) were able to take over and we let the game slip away from us.”
“They took advantage of some of our mistakes, and we weren’t able to capitalize on the errors that they made,” Raiders Head Coach Steve Kemp added. “Our guys played amazing in this game, and it’s just one of those things where we wish we had one more shot.”
The Raiders, who won the CAMFA’s Division 2 title in 2013, looked to have things well under control during the first three quarters, as the offence got touchdowns from their passing and rushing attacks and did a good job of shutting down the Mavericks’ offensive weapons.
“It was a team game from the guys, and every aspect of the game was great,” Kemp said. “Our offence made the plays when they had to and our defence did a great job of shutting things down.”
“We were up against one of the top quarterbacks in all of Canada, and we did a good job of limiting his chances for three quarters,” he added. “We knew coming into this game that we weren’t going to be able to hold him down the entire time, and that we would do our best to contain them.”
It was in the fourth quarter, however, that Mavericks quarterback Colton Hunchak put the team on his back, as he used both his rushing and passing abilities to turn the tide in favour of his team.
With the score at 42-39 in favour of the Raiders, and little over a minute after a third down pass by Raiders quarterback Duncan Little to wide receiver James Spencer fell a yard short of keeping a drive alive, Hunchak hooked up with wide receiver Jonathan Girma for a 30-yard touchdown pass that gave his team the win.
“At first, I thought the ball might have hit the ground before he caught it, but when they ruled that it was a touchdown I was pretty excited,” said Hunchak, who is a Grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School in Calgary. “To be able to comeback like that was pretty amazing.”
“We’ve been known as a team that doesn’t play well in the second half all year long, so we really wanted to prove ourselves when we fell behind,” he added. “We knew that the Raiders would come out strong and really push us, and that made for one heck of a final.”
Although the heartbreaking loss will sting for quite some time, those involved with the Raiders believe that its run to the CAMFA finals will be something that can be used to help grow minor football in Airdrie in the future.
“We really hope that we can keep this momentum going through the peewee and the bantam levels,” Kemp said. “That’s where the players learn the game before they come and play for the midget team, and we’re really hoping that we see an increase in the registration for next year as a result of this.”
“I feel that we have set a new standard here this season,” Holder said.
“I feel like we were underlooked at times by other teams because we’re from Airdrie, but I think we really put our program on the map by making it this far.”