Hawks soar to victory over Coyotes in South Zone final

The Chinook Coyotes hosted the Medicine Hat High Hawks in the Tier 2 South Zone Varsity Championship on Friday night and came up short, losing 13-2. The game started slowly on a slick and chilly field, and both teams struggled to maintain sustained drives throughout the entire first half. The game looked primed to swing back in the Coyotes favour after a long punt return with 40 seconds left in the second quarter earned them great starting field position in Hawks territory. It didn’t last long. A few plays later, the Hawks’ Clark Campbell intercepted a Coyotes pass and returned it 75 yards for the game’s first and only TD with just seconds remaining in the first half.

The Hawks opened the second half up 7-0 and with a strong offensive drive that took them down to the Coyotes one-yard line, but the Coyotes defense stonewalled them on third and one, and took over on downs, narrowly avoiding a 14-point deficit. On the last play of the third quarter, the Hawks kicked a field goal, and midway through the fourth they kicked another to put themselves up 13-0. The Coyotes got the ball back and immediately struck with a 45-yard pass completion, but then stalled again. When the Hawks took over with, they were held deep in their own end of the field and conceded a safety on a QB kneel-down in their own end zone. Ultimately, those would be the only two points credited to the Coyotes when the clock struck zeros at the game’s end.

As the Hawks celebrated, the Coyotes were emotional; some visibly upset, others angry. There was disappointment all around. Coach Nick Straat said, “Overall, we couldn’t get consistency in our drives. We’d put a couple of plays together and then might make a mistake, miss a block, or lose the ball. Our boys played hard, but credit to Med Hat, they played hard, tackled great, they wrapped up, they didn’t give us anything. We had to work for every yard.”

Asked if he thought the Coyotes great defensive effort in allowing only six points would usually be enough to win a game, he said, “Yeah, but that’s what it comes down to in these games. The further you go, the better these teams get. Defensively we played really well. We started to give them a few plays when they brought their misdirection, but even then, we didn’t break on defence. Credit to their special teams. Their kid has got a boot, and that plays a big factor in a tight game.”

Straat said that addressing the team after the game wouldn’t be easy. “It’s tough for me because I get emotional too. One thing about football in general is a lot of people look at it as a super-physical game, meatheads running into each other. But there’s a ton of strategy, there’s a huge time commitment that goes into that one game each week. At the end of the day the emotion comes out because of the commitment and because of the love they have for the game.”

Cal Braid, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Lethbridge Herald