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Strong start vaults Phoenix football into top-10 ranking

Two games into the 2019 Rocky View Sports Association (RVSA) season, the Springbank Phoenix football team is exactly where it wants to be – undefeated, and ranked among the top Tier 2 high-school-football programs in the province.

Two weeks after dismantling the George McDougall Mustangs 44-6 in its season opener Aug. 30, the Phoenix maintained its strong start Sept. 13 with a 16-2 win over the W.H. Croxford Cavaliers.

“I think we did great,” said Rogan Gomes, who plays as kicker and left slot back. “In the first half, we got some touchdowns, and throughout the whole game, we held them off.”

Two early scores from senior running back Jack O’Brien and Kade Baldwin put the Green and White in a favourable position in the first quarter.

While the Phoenix’s offence wasn’t able to maintain that strength for the remainder of the contest, the home team’s defence kept the Cavaliers to just two points. Springbank’s D-line also forced the Airdrie team to concede a safety in the second quarter.

Defence was a key reason for the Phoenix’s 6-2 record last year, and having conceded just eight points this season, a formidable back line will be another strength of the team in 2019, according to Gomes.

“A lot more players joined the defence this year, and we have really good defensive coaches who put them on the right path,” he said. “They definitely showed it today and they did great.”

The Week-3 fixture, which took place at Springbank Community High School, acted as the Phoenix’s homecoming game, meaning a few hundred students were out in full voice to cheer on their classmates.

Seeing friends packing the stands provided an added incentive for the Phoenix to come out on top, according to Gomes.

“We tried our best all game, and I think we showed the school we’re a good team,” he said. “All the classes came out to watch us play and we really wanted to show we won’t lose here.”

Having bested its two opponents by a combined score of 60-8, Springbank’s strong start vaulted the team into the eighth spot on Football Alberta’s top-10 rankings for Tier 2 programs in the province.

Springbank was back in action Sept. 20 (after press time) for an away tilt with the Chestermere Lakers, which went into the game with a 1-2 record.

Following the battle against Chestermere, the Phoenix will have a week to prepare for its toughest game of the schedule – a Sept. 27 showdown against the Cochrane Cobras.

As has been the case for the last five years, Cochrane is dominating the RVSA – in the team’s first three games, the Cobras scored 176 points while conceding just a single touchdown. 

Despite the Cobras’ perennial dominance, Gomes said he feels 2019 could be the year the Phoenix can mount a considerable challenge for the RVSA title. Springbank has finished runner-up to the Cobras for the last three years.

“Cochrane is a really good team, but I feel we can come out on top against them,” he said. “We can stop [their win streak].”

Chestermere loses

On the opposite side of Rocky View County, the Chestermere Lakers faltered in its own homecoming game Sept. 13 – shut out 34-0 by the high-flying Bert Church Chargers.

The defeat marked the Lakers’ second heavy loss of 2019. The team had kicked off the season Sept. 6, with a 78-0 loss to the Cobras Sept. 6.

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