Under-16 Western Challenge: Alberta’s dominance leads to bronze medal victory over Manitoba
Alberta finishes third while Manitoba winds up in fourth place
Kamloops, British Columbia (July 18, 2019) – On Thursday at Hillside Stadium, Alberta and Manitoba met once again in a rematch of the 2018 Under-16 Western Challenge gold medal game.
After British Columbia ended their championship hold for the past two years, Alberta regrouped and dominated on offence, defence and special teams. It proved to be too much for Manitoba. Alberta defeated Manitoba 69-0 to take home bronze from this year’s tournament.
For Alberta, the bronze medal this year comes after winning the championships in both 2017 and 2018. As for Manitoba, this is the first time in tournament history they go home empty handed as they won bronze in 2017 and claimed the silver in 2018.
Alberta was hot in the first half, firing on all cylinders in all three facets of the game and it resulted in many points on the scoreboard. The team set the tone early when linebacker Mason Lane sacked quarterback Zachary Topping on 2nd down.
Just over a minute into the 2nd quarter, a bad punt by Manitoba gave Alberta a major opportunity on their first drive. The punt was only 3 yards and the ball was placed at the Manitoba 37 yard line.
Alberta pivot Cade Labrecque got to work right away. With 9:35 remaining in the quarter, he found Duncan Critch who rushed the ball down the field for a 26 yard major to open the scoring.
Then halfway through the quarter, Alberta would extend their lead when Labrecque connected with Carter Kettyle for a rushing touchdown. With 4:57 left in the frame, Manitoba conceded a safety to Alberta in the end zone.
With over two minutes left in the first quarter, Labrecque passed off the ball to Michael Eagle Bear who sprinted down the field into the end zone for a 55 yard touchdown.
Alberta would get a defensive touchdown when Topping threw the ball and Michael Eagle Bear recovered the fumble and galloped into the end zone.
The turnovers continued to hurt Manitoba as 44 seconds into the second quarter, defensive back Abdul Kiawen had a pick six to give Alberta the ball back and they capitalized on the opportunity to increase their lead. Zachary Pipe tallied a rushing major with 9:46 left before the half.
Manitoba threw another costly interception into the hands of Alberta defensive back Carson Brooks at the 18 yard line. With 5:46 remaining in the first half, Kohl Windsor added a field goal.
Before the end of the half, Alberta would get more assurance in the lead when Izaiah Oliveros rushes into the end zone. Then, Adam Uguak scooped up a fumble and converted it into a touchdown.
At halftime, Alberta had a 48-0 lead over Manitoba.
The Mercy Rule was applied at the start of the second half and the clock continued to run.
In the third quarter, Saint McKenzie came in as quarterback for Alberta and the offence continued their rhythm as Pipe pushed his way into the end for a 2 yard major, his second of the game.
Manitoba hoped their fortunes would change by putting in Vincent Lytle into the game as quarterback. However, with 46 seconds left in the third quarter, Lytle threw an interception to Brooks, who got his second of the game.
In the fourth quarter, Alberta would get another touchdown from Pipe to extend their lead.
Rounding out the scoring was Oliveros with his second major of the game.
Offensive Players of the Game were running back Zachary Pipe (Alberta) and quarterback Zachary Topping (Manitoba). Defensive Players of the Game were defensive backs Carson Brooks (Alberta) and Jacob Younka (Manitoba).
After a disappointing loss to British Columbia on Monday, Alberta is pleased to be going home with the bronze after putting together a full effort on Thursday. However, the team gave props to Manitoba for their competitive spirit throughout the four quarters of the game.
“Our boys executed and that’s what this team is capable of so it was very special,” Alberta head coach Mike Wilson said after the game. “So full credit to Manitoba; it was a tough game and the score didn’t indicate some of the big hits that were going on out there so it was a great game.”
As for Manitoba, while the end result was not what they wanted, they battled until the end.
“It didn’t go good,” commented Manitoba head coach Jeff Ready. “The kids stayed with it though and they made the best of an unfortunate turn of events and they finished like that’s all we asked.”
Nobody gave up and they kept fighting until the end and so we’ll take that.”
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