Colts deal with 'unfortunate' end to season
- October 21, 2012
Colts' Matt Lamoureux (22) looks for an opening during Oct 14 PFC semifinal at McMahon Stadium.
Photo courtesy Shawn Thompson, SilverFox Photography; silverfoxphotography.ca)
Jeff MacKinnon Media coordinator
For the Calgary Colts, it was an abrupt ending to a memorable season.
As head coach John Stevens mentioned moments after their stunning home-field loss to the Regina Thunder in the Prairie Football Conference semifinal, it ended a few games earlier than they expected.
“It’s an unfortunate way to finish our season,” he said.
“We were looking to make our season go a few games longer. We have to draw from the positives.
“From a program standpoint we do have some guys graduating, but not too many. We should be a strong team in the future, for sure.”
The 2012 season marked the first year the Colts employed a full-time head coach coach and was also Stevens’ first year running the team. He came with many years experience as a university head coach and immediately turned the Colts into a national force.
The Colts held the attention of the Canadian Junior Football League from Aug. 12 to their only loss of the season three months later, Oct. 14 at McMahon Stadium.
It began with a 23-21 road win over the Saskatoon Hilltops at Gordie Howe Bowl to vault the Colts into the No. 1 spot in the CJFL rankings. They appeared headed to a rematch with the Hilltops for the PFC final but those plans were derailed with a last minute drive by the Thunder that gave the visitors a 24-21 win.
It left the Colts in a state of shock, and many of their players staring at the end of their junior football careers a few weeks early.
“We’ll celebrate our accomplishments, as it comes down the road with the banquet and all that,” Colts starting quarterback Derek Cooper, an optimistic, positive young man who became one of the team’s true leaders during their 8-0 regular season run.
“We’ll mourn this. We’ll mourn. The nice thing is, the sun will rise tomorrow morning and life will still go on.”
It was a tough ending for Cooper, who has run out of junior eligibility. He suffered a dislocated shoulder late in the first half and watched the rest of the game with his left arm in a sling as backup Jeremy Long, who is eligible to return, took over.
The Colts did not score a point in the second half. The Thunder’s final drive accounted for the only scoring over the final 30 minutes.
Defensive back Skylar Pinchak manned-up and also agreed to a request to face the media moments after his final junior game too.
“Even though we suffer the loss we still have a lot to be proud of,” he told gathered reporters. “Hopefully that’ll keep running for next year for the other guys, the younger guys. Hopefully they can see that it’s possible and this team is a good team to play for.
“It’s going to be a team to watch out for, for a longtime time.”
Starting running back Chucks Okafor, who led the team in rushing, returns for one more season. He tweeted after the loss on his thoughts on the 2012 edition:
“Hands down the most fun I’ve had playing football with a bunch of amazing athletes,” he tweeted.
“Proud to be a part of (the Colts) history and greatness.”