Falcons rock cross-town rivals in final
Football: Foothills hosting Springbank in one-and-done game Nov. 4
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2017 06:00 am
Friendship comes with a Price.
Foothills Falcon runnningback Payton Price amassed more than 150 yards rushing and scored a pair of touchdowns in Foothills 33-0 romp over the previously undefeated Holy Trinity Academy Knights Friday to win the second-straight Big Rock Football Conference title.
“This rivalry, it changes things,” said Price after the game at Knights Field. “I have been playing with some of these HTA guys ever since I was eight years old -- it’s like we were brothers. It brings the best out of the guys, in a good way.”
The Knights were playing their first game in three weeks after clinching first in the Big Rock regular season title.
And rust never sleeps.
“I think the layoff, even though we had several guys banged up, really hurt our defence,” Knights head coach Matt Hassett said. “That first quarter, we were really tentative and we haven’t done that all year.
“But we gave up something like five turnovers. You can’t give good teams like Foothills a short field.”
The turnovers came early.
Knights quarterback Adam Dielissen made his first start after breaking a collarbone in early September. His rust showed as he coughed the ball up which was scooped up by Falcon Riley Gough giving Foothills possession at the Knights 30-yard-line midway through the first quarter.
Foothills would take the lead for good on the ensuing drive when runningback Payton Burbank cut to the outside from 12 yards out for the major to make it 7-0.
The Knights defence proved why HTA went into the game ranked no. 3 as they were able to hold the high-octane Falcons offence in subsequent drives.
However, no defence can prevent their offence from misfiring.
Foothills d-lineman Ellio MacRae-Polson made his biggest play of the year when he pounced on a loose ball after an errant snap to give the Falcons a first-down on the HTA 30.
Price then took off for a 27-yard run. He would follow that up with a three-yard TD reception from QB Tyson Pitcher to double the Falcons advantage.
Then a familiar bugaboo hit the Knights.
HTA has had issues handling kickoffs and punts all year. When they bobbled the kickoff deep in the area, it was playing into a Falcons’ niche — specialty teams.
Or make that Neish.
Foothills Falcon Keaton Neish was able to sprint down the field and knocked the bobbled pigskin out of bounds at around the three-yard line to give Foothills a first-and-goal.
Price then bulldozed his way into paydirt to make it 21-0 just before the three-minute warning.
It was a dire warning for HTA.
The Knights again had trouble handling the kickoff and the result was conceding a safety to add another two points to the Falcons margin and forcing HTA to kick the ball away.
Foothills took full advantage.
Pitcher hit a wide-open Tanner Young right in the numbers and after a terrific Falcon block, the receiver could have ran all the way to Turner Valley on his 75-yard run to give Foothills a 30-0 lead at the half.
“It was all thanks to Payton Burbank — he had a tremendous block,” Young said. “It was a great throw from Tyson and the blocks just allowed me to go in.”
The Knights were out, but far from down.
Hassett was proud of the way his squad rebounded to play hard in the final half.
“That’s the way we should play,” Hassett said “Hat’s off to Foothills. They came out and jumped on us early. I was just glad we stepped up in the second half and played well and showed what we were all about.”
HTA linebacker Evan Bruynzeel said while losing to the cross-town rivals is a hard way to end a season it was a successful year.
“I’m very disappointed, but this entire team surprised me — the rookies who stepped up, the o-line, I thought overall we had a good season,” Bruynzeel said. [Tonight] we seemed lost. We fumbled the ball, it wasn’t Knights football.
“We lost it in the first half. I was really proud of our effort in the second half.”
While the Falcons offence was explosive, the Foothills defence has been stingier than Scrooge.
It has not allowed a touchdown in three games — the last one in their 14-10 loss to HTA on Sept. 29.
“That loss started a fire — to focus and really buckle down and get to work,” said Seth Nelson, Falcons defensive back and captain.
“We knew our responsibilities and did our job. We came out hungry, make plays and just demoralize them.”
The athletic Nelson would kick a 28-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make the final 33-0.
The Falcons, the two-time defending Tier II provincial champions, advance to the first round of the provincial playoffs when they host the Springbank Phoenix, Saturday at Falcon Field at 1 p.m.
The Phoenix defeated the George McDougall Mustangs 30-8 in the Rocky View Tier II final. The Phoenix is 7-1 and currently ranked no. 9 in the Tier II rankings. The 5-3 Falcons are ranked third.
The recipients of the Big Rock Conference Awards which were handed out Friday night, were:
Offensive player of the year — Payton Price, Foothills
Defensive Player of the year — Evan Bruynzeel, HTA
Best lineman — Daniel Mitchell, Rundle
Best back — Julian Jenkins, HTA
Rookie of the Year — Carson Remus, Foothills
Commissioner’s Award: — Seth Nelson, Foothills; Riley Bahl, HTA and Brad Burgess, Rundle