The George McDougall Mustangs bid to play in the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association Provincials came to an end Oct. 27 when it fell 30-8 to the Springbank Phoenix.
Although suffering a loss in a crucial game late in the season is a bitter pill to swallow, the upstart Mustangs have a lot to be proud of, making it to the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) Tier 2 Final with a roster predominantly made up of Grade 10 and 11 players.
“Our team gave it their best shot, they played so hard,” head coach Chris Glass said. “We fought with every bullet we had in the gun and left (the game) with an empty barrel.
“This was a huge statement game.”
The Mustangs started the final off behind the ball with rookie quarterback Matthew Melanson getting his first RVSA start. The rookie Melanson took over for Grade 12 signal caller Max Longchamps, who was forced to the bench Oct. 27 with a broken collarbone.
Glass said the young quarterback impressed with his ability to remain calm and focused throughout the game.
“He showed a real tough character and it bodes well for next year and the year after that,” Glass said.
“He’s got ice running through his veins and that is intriguing for someone in the quarterback position.”
Glass added he wasn’t going to name Melanson his starter for next season, but said his playing in an important game was major experience for the young quarterback.
Despite the score appearing as a wide margin, the game was close for a majority of it. The Phoenix held a 16-8 score until the early stages of the fourth quarter where it started to pull away.
Glass said the game could have had a different result if things went the Mustangs’ way in the early stages of the game.
“We had multiple chances to score, we just came up a little bit short,” Glass said. “The thing that made me proud as a coach is when you put a team into a situation, especially as an underdog, and you put yourself within a touchdown – it means you left everything on the field.”
As always, with the end of a season comes the departure of graduating players and as much as the Mustangs will miss the likes of Longchamps, Quinn Bohnet, Enoch Angbongy and Cade Yakiwchuk, the team will have 33 returning players from this season’s roster.
With such a high number of returnees, Glass said the expectation are high for future seasons.
“We have the right mix of seniors versus rookies versus that in-between year,” Glass said. “We’re ahead of our rebuild, for sure.”