A late rally propelled the Foothills Falcons back into the win column.
Foothills fought off a 14-13 deficit after three quarters to dispatch the Centennial Coyotes 27-14 in a non-conference high school football showcase Friday night at Falcons field.
“It wasn’t great that we had to do that, it was a breakdown and a mistake, but the response is really what we want to focus on,” said Falcons head coach Nathan St. Dennis. “That’s what we talked about, getting better and fixing our mistakes and we had the mistakes, but we had the response from our guys in the second half.
“Our offence, guys making effort plays, it’s nothing fancy, just that hard work is exactly what we want.”
Foothills got the early jump on the visitors when quarterback Tyson Camel found a wide-open Michael Eagle Bear in the end-zone for a 25-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter. The point after attempt was no good.
“Our O-line was doing pretty good, they were getting the push and that’s kind of what we’ve been lacking,” said Falcons Grade 12 receiver Josh Groome. “Ryan (Goeson) had some big runs and that helped, they bit on the runs a lot so we got to pass over them. It finally clicked.”
Timely tackles in the backfield from Sam Simard and Goeson kept the Coyotes at bay as the Falcons looked poised to go into the half with the lead.
Coyotes quarterback Logan Pidkowa changed that equation in a hurry, finding the outside edge and scampering down the sidelines for a 95-yard touchdown.
Later in the half, a sideline tackle from hard-hitting defensive back Jamison Strilchuk forced a Coyotes punt, giving Camel and the Falcons offence another shot with 33 seconds on the clock.
“Defensively we did a pretty good job responding to what was happening,” St. Dennis said. “They weren’t doing anything real difficult, but our kids started understanding it’s about being physical.
“It’s just a matter of basics and playing physical football.”
Foothills played physically on both sides of the ball
Camel showed terrific toughness in the pocket, absorbing a massive hit while getting off a perfect pass into the back of the end-zone to Groome, who climbed the ladder for the 15-yard touchdown to restore the Foothills lead.
“My DB just bailed on me so I just sat in the corner and Tyson made a good throw,” Groome said. “With a new quarterback it’s good to see them confident and be able to take that pressure. It’s a good sign for what’s to come.”
The Coyotes briefly took back the lead on the final play of the third quarter as elusive runningback Keon Raymond dove in on a goalline run after receiver Noah Toth broke free for a huge reception down the right sideline.
Foothills showcased its resiliency once again in the fourth quarter.
Strong running after the catch from slotback Eton Nelson put the Falcons in the red-zone and the senior completed the drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception.
Clinging to the six-point lead, the Falcons got some help on special teams.
Groome didn’t get mad, he got even when his punt didn’t go as planned and he recovered his own kick down field.
“I biffed on the kick, got mad at it and went running on it,” he said.
The Falcons didn’t punch it in on the next drive, but won the field position battle and would score on their final possession.
Goeson took a direct snap in the backfield and ran it into the end-zone untouched for the fourth and final major with just nine seconds left on the clock.
“The nice thing about scheduling a team like Centennial is you know they’ve got a population of 1800 kids, their roster is all Grade 11 and 12 so we know we’re going to go up against some big size for sure against a school like that," St. Dennis said. “It’s good for Tyson, it’s good for our line and it’s something we can use as a positive moving forward.”
Next up for Foothills is a Big Rock Football Conference battle with the Rundle College Cobras on Oct. 10 in Calgary. The Big Rock playoffs kick-off the following week.