The Cochrane Cobras and Austin O'Brien Crusaders have registered one of the lowest-scoring provincial high school football championship games ever.
The Crusaders came out on top, 7-3, in the defensive battle with its lone score coming on a pick-six. The Cobras opened the scoring with a safety and later in the game came anyway with a single on a missed field goal.
"We knew going in they had a top-notch defence, and we knew that our defense was playing extremely well. I think both teams only had about 100 yards of offence."
He says the Crusaders' D-line controlled the line of scrimmage.
"They were big, thick, tall, everything. They were good that way, so we had a little trouble moving them around a bit."
Still, though, the Cobras generated chances.
"We had some opportunities, for sure. We dropped some passes that honestly normally we wouldn't, and I think those kill drives. Then you're punting and they get the ball and the seconds just tick off that clock."
The week previously, the Cobras upset the #2 seeded HTA Knights, 17-15, in the south final to advance to the provincials.
"That was our goal. Let's get out of the South and let's go to the show. We got there, but unfortunately, it didn't work in our favour this year. But, you know, it was a battle to get there."
The parents gave the players a memorable send-off to the championship game.
Two coach buses brought the entire team to Red Deer. McNab says it's important to bring everyone, even the ones who may not see the field or are on the injury list.
"The football games themselves are probably about 3 or 4 per cent of what you create in your program. The rest are practices, team meetings, and weight training. So those kids put all that other 96% of it in, and they're going with us."
Parents have always played an important role, but he says this group was exceptional.
"Every Monday, they cooked us a team meal and, win or lose, especially when we went through that spell of a couple losses to George McDougall, just so supportive. This is probably the most special group of parents I've seen in my 34 years."
McNab has been contemplating stepping back from the head coach position. He says he will announce his decision at the team's banquet. In the meantime, there's plenty to wrap up for the 2023 season.
"We've got green garbage bag day where we tell them to take the stuff home, and we'll have our final team meeting. We have a do a team picture and our team banquet, so there are still things that have to happen before this season really is officially over."
Since 1985, only one championship game had a lower score. In 2018, St. Francis beat Harry Ainlay, 3-2, in the Tier I championship. The Cobras were involved in another low-scoring affair back in 2008, when they beat Sylvan Lake, 7-5, for the Tier III championship.
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