The Bow Valley Bobcats are ranked higher in the Football Alberta Tier 3 high school football than they have in years after solid performances in their first two games of the season.
The Bobcats had a huge 26-7 win over the Chestermere Lakers on Sept. 8 in their home opener. The Lakers scored on their first possession, but after that, it was all Bobcats.
"Chestermere marched down on the first drive, but then after that, the defence pitched a shutout for the rest of the game," says Bobcats head coach Dustin Paul. "They played lights out and the offense did their job, they moved the ball.
"The big thing was Nick (Dangerfield) hitting his 47-yard field goal to get us on the board. I think that put a bunch of wind in our sails and we were off to the races after that."
Quarterback Kaden Barnstable is in his first year of high school ball after being at the helm for the Bantam Lions last season.
"I think he's looking awesome so far," says Paul. "Friday, he didn't turn over the ball at all. He protected the ball, just like we wanted him to do, which is perfect. He was that field general out there that we've been needing for a while. Having him back there for the next three years, including this year, is huge for us."
The Bobcats lost their opening game on the road to the Springbank Phoenix, 35-21, after getting off to a slow start.
"Looking back at that game last week, I think it was a matter of us running out of time because, with the comeback definitely on, we could feel the momentum swing in our way," says Paul. "You know, we put up 14 points in the fourth quarter. If we had shown up ready to play right from the get-go, I think that would have been an entirely different game."
In Football Alberta rankings released today (Sept. 10), the Bobcats climbed to fifth in tier 3 from ninth after the first week of play. Last season, the Bobcats didn't appear at all in the top 10.
Huge 20th-anniversary celebration on Saturday
The Bobcats have a huge celebration planned for their Saturday home game against the Bert Church Chargers.
"I'm hoping we come out fired up and put on a good show for everybody to come out and watch and cheer on the Bobcats."
It's the 20th anniversary of the Bobcats' 2003 provincial championship team. Paul became a Bobcat the year after when he entered grade 10.
He's expecting several members of the team at the game for a ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m., followed by a 1 p.m. kickoff. With Bobcats attracting huge crowds, he recommends people to show up early.
"We're calling it a Homecoming and hoping to get a bunch of former Bobcat players out, too."
He says the sidelines were packed for the opening game, and it's a continuation of the growing interest and support received last year.
"Just last week alone, we picked up 15 new players, and did a pep rally on Friday."
The players were introduced individually at a school assembly.
"Having that to kick off things Friday afternoon and then having Bobby the Bobcat out there for his first game was good, too."
At the end of the last school year, Bobby was introduced as their new school mascot.
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