Colts get ready for Thunder for PFC semifinal clash
- October 11, 2012
Others may think Sunday’s game is a formality, but coach John Stevens certainly isn’t one of those people.
Stevens’ unbeaten Calgary Colts, the No. 1-ranked junior football team in the country for the entire 2012 regular season, is gearing up to host No. 9 Regina Thunder in the one-and-done Prairie Football Conference semifinal at McMahon Stadium at 1 p.m.
If all goes to form the Colts will vanquish Regina and meet the Saskatoon Hilltops at home the following week for the PFC title.
But football games don’t always follow form.
“We know that Saskatchewan is a hot-bed of football,” said Stevens.
“(The Thunder) play 60 minutes. Regardless of our record or how good we think we are, they are going to come here and try to beat us, so we better be ready.
“The regular season is over. Loser goes home.”
The Colts secured the PFC regular season title and an 8-0 record with an impressive 30-19 victory over the Hilltops Oct. 7 at McMahon, scoring the game’s final 16 points to finish off what is on paper their nearest rival.
The Colts had to do something something similar in their only meeting with the Thunder this season, at home back on Aug. 19. The Colts exploded for 28 points in the fourth quarter after trailing 25-24 at halftime.
The teams combined for almost 1,000 in offence, 519 by the Colts.
But that was in the summer when the sun was shining and the weather was pleasant. It’s now October and Wednesday’s snow and sleet brought the topic weather into the discussion.
The forecast is a good one, with an expected high of 17C with a mix of sun and cloud.
If that changes, though, look for the Colts to adjust their pass vs. run ratio but not abandon passing in favour of running. The wind decides that, not snow or cold.
“The reality is, in Canada playing three-down ball you can’t just run. You have to pass,” Stevens said.
The Colts typically split pass and run evenly. Last week, for example, quarterback Derek Cooper threw the ball 34 times, completing 25. He handed the ball off to his runners 28 times, with Cameron Fox getting 11 of those chances and Chucks Okafor eight.
“If you’re only one facet, eventually you’re going to run into trouble,” Stevens said.
The Thunder come to Calgary after suffering a 27-15 loss to the Edmonton Wildcats on the final Sunday of the regular season in the battle for third and fourth. The Wildcats journey to Saskatoon on Sunday to meet the Hilltops.
The 35 points put up by the Thunder was the most surrendered in one game this season by the Colts.
“Regina has a very skilled offence but Coach Stevens never leaves us empty-handed,” offered defensive back Vince Greco.
“By the end of the week we will be prepared.”
Greco was among two members of the Colts recognized by the PFC this week.
Kalon Baumann was named special teams player of the week. He opened Sunday’s game with a 103-yard kickoff return for a TD and has nine kickoff returns for 305 yards this season.
Greco earned top defensive player after a four-tackle, one-assist afternoon. Cooper was runner-up in the offensive player voting behind running back Martin Hovi of the Winnipeg Rifles.
Tickets for the Colts/Thunder game are available prior to the game at the east entrance of the stadium.