There was a buzz on the Bobcats bench during their last game of the season. It was that same charged atmosphere they’ve had all season.
This was a team that displayed a genuine and unshakeable team spirit, no matter the outcome. It was a tight group of players who went through thick and thin and came out on the winning side where it counts the most, believes co-head coach Cam Cote.
“We get to see the personal growth. We see the relationships that are created on the team and those are the real wins. It’s such a positive, fun place to coach. We don’t always win, but we sure get a lot of wins off the scoreboard.”
The Bobcats, though, did go out with a 14-11 win against the Olds Spartans in their final game of the season on a snowy night under the lights, Nov. 5. It was a penalty-ridden game that saw huge gains by the Bobcats evaporated.
Despite this, the Bobcats took a 14-0 lead before the Spartans answered to close the gap, 14-7, by the end of the first half.
In deteriorating snowy conditions, the Bobcats defence came up with some big stops and crucial turnovers in the second half to maintain a five-point lead deep into the fourth quarter.
With less than a minute left on the clock, the Blue and Gold took a knee to surrender two to gain field position. Two Hail Mary’s by the Spartans failed to connect in their final possession before time expired.
With both teams having their share of ups and downs it was a positive way to end their seasons, Cote believes.
“I’m really glad Olds took the time to come play. It was a nice way to end it for both teams. It came down to the last 30 seconds. As a coach, I love that. It always nice to get down to a nice tight game, you’re coaching all the way. And again, some of our players came out and shone.”
Jared Sommerville has played his last game as the Bobcats and he came to the team through the ranks of the Cochrane Lions.
So what made his time as a Bobcat special?
“Honestly, just the team. Everyone on the team is just so special and because we have a smaller team you’re able to bond with more of the people around you and you’re on the field more to make it an overall great experience. It’s not about the wins. I don’t care about the winning or losing, it’s about the boys you're with and the times you have.”
“We’ve got great team spirit. No matter what’s going on the field, we take care of all of our guys and look out for each other.”
Also in his final year, Connor Pointen says there were ups and downs from season to season but through it all, he believes in the Bobcats.
“I think the Bobcats are going to keep going up. This is a great program and I’ve loved it every single year.”
It was the first year for grade 10 student Merek Coltman, who came up through the Cochrane Lions and played for the gold medal zone 2 team this summer in the Alberta Summer Games.
He is passionate about football and he likes what they have on the Bobcats.
“It was an amazing season, love everyone on the team, and I had a great time. We’re like brothers out there doing what we do.”
“To have the opportunity to be out there was amazing.”
Brody Sidebottom had never played football before this year's training camp but his dad’s interest in the sport rubbed off on him and he decided to give it a try. The grade 10 student became their starting quarterback and grew stronger and more confident as the season went on.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, I’ve never been happier. This environment is great. We’re going to miss all the seniors but we’ll keep it alive next year.”
With 15 senior players graduating, all part of the 2016 provincial championship team, the focus is now on the future.
“We’ve got a good core and we’re going to grow,” says Cote. “We have a solid group of new coaches and we have more coaches than we’ve ever had. Now we need to get the players into off-season training and get them ready for the season instead of just coming out for the season. I think we have a committed group of players and coaches who want to do that.”