The Bonnyville Bandits high-flying offence was at it again this past weekend, embarrassing the visiting Cardston Cougars en route to a provincial championship.
The Bandits crushed the Cougars 75-35 to become bantam Tier III champions and finish the season 10-0.
“We have had three or four teams in my Bandits coaching career that have been stellar and very strong,” said Bandits coach Dan Jubinville. “This team just went above and beyond.”
It didn’t take long for Bonnyville’s offence to get going on Saturday afternoon.
Evan Fritzler took a hand off from Silas Fagnan and marched 70-yards down the left side of the field, taking the second play of the game in for the score.
Less than two minutes later, on Bonnyville’s next offensive snap, Fritzler busted off another big run. The running back recovered a Bandits fumble and ran 41-yards for his second touchdown of the game.
Just 2:36 into the Provincial Championship and Bonnyville lead Cardston 13-0.
“We have kind of come out flat in every other game this year. That was my biggest fear going into this game,” said Jubinville. “One of our biggest goals in this game was to come out flying and the boys came out flying.”
The Cougars got onto the board at 7:53 of the first quarter when Taylor Barfuss caught a 50-yard pass and jogged into the endzone.
Bonnyville got the touchdown back 1:06 into the second quarter when Fritzler tossed a 12-yard pass to Fagnan for a TD.
Fagnan followed that up with an interception on the ensuing Cardston drive, setting up the biggest play of the game.
With the Bandits lined up at their own 6-yard line, Fritzler took a hand off, broke a few tackles and ran the entire length of the field for a 104-yard touchdown.
The two teams went on to trade scores in what was a back and forth, high scoring affair.
With the Bandits up 34-14 and time winding down in the first half, Fagnan managed to pull of another huge play. This time the Bonnyville quarterback tossed a perfect spiral 50-yards downfield to Gideon Hunt, who hauled it in and walked in for the score.
“We had a lot of kids step up to the plate,” said Jubinville. “A lot of kids made some great plays.”
Early in the third quarter, with the Bandits up 41-20, a controversial call frazzled some Bonnyville fans.
Fagnan, who was playing safety, grabbed a Cougar by the shoulder pads and tossed him to the ground, in what appeared to be a routine tackle. The Bandits offensive star was flagged on the play and ejected from the game.
While he wasn’t happy with the call, Jubinville was pleased with how his team responded.
“Our referees always have a tough job to do. Did I like (the call)? No,” said Jubinville. “That could be something that could totally take a team down and our guys just got stronger from it. They did the right thing.”
Jacob Cardenas stepped up and took over a quarterback and the Bandits offense didn’t miss a beat.
Bonnyville pumped in four more touchdowns to win by 40 points.
The post game celebration was stained by the Cougars. Upset with the loss Cardston left the field immediately, refusing to shake hands with the Bonnyville and not taking the time to accept their silver medals.
Bonnyville didn’t let that spoil their party, as they enjoyed the victory with a ton of family and friends who stormed the field after the historic win.
The victory gave the Bonnyville Amateur Football Association their second provincial title in two weeks, making it the most successful season in the BAFA’s 30-year history.