The Bonnyville Renegades are the No. 1 peewee football team in the province.
The Renegades hung on to defeat the Red Deer Steelers 40-30 on Saturday afternoon to capture the first provincial title in Bonnyville football history.
“Red Deer is a tough team. We had some tough field conditions. But we came out and did what we had done all year long,” said Renegades head coach Kevin Sartain. “It feels fantastic.”
Duncan Critch, Bonnyville’s go-to running back, got the scoring going started at 7:40 of the first quarter when he forced his way across the goal line from six-yards out. After a successful two-point conversion the Renegades were out to an 8-0 lead.
Less than a minute later the Renegades offence would be right back at it as Tyler Verrier intercepted an ill-advised pass.
Several plays later Critch busted out to the right side and rumbled 45-yards untouched for a touchdown to propel Bonnyville in front 16-0.
With time ticking down in the first quarter Titus Fagnan strung together a 50-yard run, pushing his way through defenders on his way to the 24-yard line.
Fagnan capped off the drive a minute into the second quarter scoring from 10-yards out.
Bonnyville’s defence went back to work and kept the Steelers off the scoreboard on several ensuing drives before the offence punched another score in.
Kevin Wooldridge scored from seven yards out and with 4:44 remaining in the first half and Bonnyville was up 28-0.
“I was stoked about our start,” said Sartain. “But Red Deer mounted one heck of a comeback. They made this game interesting after it looked like it might be a blow out. They came out firing in that second half.”
A huge 58-yard receiving touchdown from Cody Melnychuk got Red Deer on the board with three minutes left in the first half and the visitors carried the momentum into the third quarter.
The Steelers scored again four minutes into the third to cut the deficit to 28-16, setting up a wild fourth quarter.
Bonnyville added to their lead by converting a short touchdown run with 8:33 left.
Three minutes later Steerlers receiver Nolan Baragar was found wide-open downfield for an uncontested 60-yard touchdown to close the gap to 34-22.
Both teams would go on to add a touchdown in the final 1:20 of play and the Renegades would hold on for the ten-point victory.
“We came out and we played positional football,” said Sartain. “We don’t have the raw talent that we might have had last year…that raw speed to the outside and ability to make cuts. What we do have with these kids and this Renegades team is positional talent. They are the best positional football team in the province.”
After three seasons of existence the Renegades have two league championships and one provincial championship, leaving only an undefeated season left on Sartain’s bucket list.