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Mustangs rained on in 2019 season opener

The 2019 high-school football season got off to a rough start for the George McDougall Mustangs Aug 30, as the team fell 44-6 to the Springbank Phoenix at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park.

Kicking off the campaign against Springbank – which finished second in the Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) last year – the Mustangs struggled to contend with a well-drilled and organized Phoenix team.

Turnovers proved the home team’s downfall, according to Mustangs head coach Chris Glass, as George McDougall failed to score in the final three quarters, while conceding six touchdowns.

“When you turn the ball over six times, it’s tough to gain momentum,” he said. “I think that’s really where the game went off the rails for us.

“We’re a much better team than that scoreboard showed, and it needs to be fixed during a very short week.”

Springbank took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, when Ryan Morriw caught a touchdown pass from Grade-11 quarterback Danny Skelton. George McDougall responded quickly, as senior Evan De Groot scored the Mustangs’ first TD of the season a few minutes later.

“De Groot is the heart and soul of the team,” Glass said. “He’s a linebacker, fullback, and everything to us. He’s a heck of a football player and is going to be someone to watch.”

After a tightly-fought first quarter, Springbank found a higher gear in the second frame. Skelton showed off his range of passing, connecting with Grade-11 wide receiver Haiden Frolek on a pair of touchdowns to extend the Phoenix’s lead to two scores before the end of the first half.

“I expected that from [Skelton],” said Glass, who coached the Springbank pivot with the Airdrie Raiders in the Calgary Spring Football Association earlier this year. “He is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in Alberta, and I can’t say enough about how poised he is, how calm he is, and what a student of the game he is.

“What you’re seeing is all the hard work he puts in at practice starting to show on the field. I’m saddened that game came against us, but I’m really proud of him and the player he’s turning out to be.”

The Phoenix didn’t let its foot off the gas after the halftime break, as the visiting squad continued its dominance into the third quarter. JP Barnet made it 30-6 on Springbank’s first drive of the frame, before Frolek caught yet another touchdown pass from Skelton to register his third of the contest.

The Phoenix put the icing on the cake in the fourth quarter, when senior running back Jack O’Brien took a hand-off and rammed his way into the end zone on a second-and-goal to secure the emphatic victory.

The Mustangs won’t have long before the team is back in action – George McDougall will return to the gridiron Sept. 6 for the annual Airdrie Bowl game against the Bert Church Chargers.

The yearly all-Airdrie battle – which George McDougall has won for the last eight years – will mark Bert Church’s first official game of the 2019 season.

“We have some work to do to fix up the turnovers and make sure we don’t have those problems again,” Glass said. “But every time those two schools fight, it’s going to be a battle, and we’re really looking forward to it. I know Bert Church is excited for it, too.

“I think this could be the first Airdrie Bowl in a long time where we’re the underdogs. They have a veteran squad, they have a lot of things going for them, and we have a lot of work to do.”

The Airdrie Bowl will kick off at 4 p.m. at Ed Eggerer Athletic Park.

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