Host Alberta successfully defends gold medal at Under-16 Western Challenge
By Ameeta Vohra
Manitoba earns bronze, Saskatchewan North wins bronze
For the second consecutive year, Alberta is golden.
On Saturday at Foote Field in Edmonton, the host team defeated Manitoba 47-21 to win the gold medal.
In the bronze medal game, Saskatchewan North overcame two weather delays to down British Columbia 17-9.
The first to fourth placements were the same as last year’s event.
ALBERTA 47, MANITOBA 21:
Elic Ayomanor scored three touchdowns in the third quarter to power Alberta to the win over Manitoba.
Alberta got on the scoreboard early as Luc Nolin was successful on a 34 -yard field goal attempt to give the team an early 3-0 lead over Manitoba.
With nine seconds left in the 1st quarter, Manitoba responded back as Jordan Hanslip connected with Payton Lake for a long touchdown pass.
Manitoba would extend their lead with just two minutes left to the half as Hanslip found Mekai Salliant for a major.
Alberta cut Manitoba’s lead before the half as Nolin threw Ethan Henderson a 6-yard touchdown pass.
At halftime, Manitoba held a 14-10 advantage over Alberta.
In the second half, Alberta came alive as they scored 35 unanswered points.
Duncan Critch scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Then, within a span of 1:08, Ayomanor add two consecutive majors.
Manitoba got one back as Negus Lewin pushed his way into the end zone to cut Alberta’s lead 38-21.
However, Ayomanor would not be denied and broke through multiple Manitoba tacklers to get his third touchdown of the game to put the game out of reach.
“Manitoba came out and played us very physical,” said Team Alberta Head Coach Darcy Park about the adjustments Alberta made between the halftime of the game. “I think some of our guys were not prepared to play that physical of a game.”
“We had a couple of opportunities early but penalties took away those plays. I think that drive before the end of the first half where we scored before we went in really allowed us to take a deep breath. We just came out and the adjustments we made; we have to protect our quarterback and we managed to get the ball into our playmakers hands and letting them complete for the play.”
In their assessment of the game, Manitoba started strong but once Alberta’s offence got rolling, it was hard to contain them.
“We came out of the gates and fired on all cylinders,” Manitoba Head Coach Jeff Ready recalled of the game. “Everything was looking great.”
“They scored that late touchdown in the first half and that shifted the momentum. We had a bad second half in the third quarter when things got out of control and things got away from us. Overall, the guys fought hard; the boys responded and they kept fighting until the end.”
Offensive Players of the Game were Nolin (Alberta) and Lewin (Manitoba). Defensive Players of the Game were Jack Dutton (Alberta) and Nicholas Perreria (Manitoba).
Players of the tournament were Nolin (Alberta) for Special Teams, Ayomanor (Alberta) for offence and Dutton (Alberta) for defence.
NORTH SASKATCHEWAN 17, BRITISH COLUMBIA 9:
In the earlier game on Saturday, the bronze medal game took place despite two weather delays as thunder and rain took over Foote Field.
Zach Szakacs plunged into the end zone to give Saskatchewan North an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter.
With two minutes before the half, Szakacs would get his second major of the game on a quarterback sneak into the end zone.
At halftime, Saskatchewan North enjoyed a 14-0 lead over British Columbia.
In the fourth quarter, Cadiz Tivy added an 18-yard field goal for Saskatchewan North.
With over four minutes left in the game, British Columbia tried to mount a comeback when Kayle Cowley connected with Caeleb Schlachter for a major.
However, the comeback fell short and Saskatchewan North won the bronze medal for the second year in a row at the Under-16 Western Challenge.
Offensive Players of the Game were Cameron Friesen (Saskatchewan) and Logan Buchwitz (British Columbia). Defensive Players of the Game were Jace Mowles (Saskatchewan) and Nathan Beauchemin (British Columbia).
Post-game Interview with Jeff Ready, Team Manitoba Head Coach[/su_youtube]
Post-game Interview with Darcy Park, Team Alberta Head Coach[/su_youtube]
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