CHARGING INTO TRAFFIC Mustangs running back Donavan Wooldridge runs the ball downfield against the Royals. JAMIE HARKINS LLS PHOTO
The one thing about earning a lopsided win is it gives the coaching staff an opportunity to find areas in need of further improvement.
The Lloydminster Mustangs beat the Cold Lake Royals 36-7 at St. Mary’s Elementary School on Saturday.
The defending Wheatland Bantam Football League (WBFL) and Alberta bantam Tier 3 champions roared out to a 22-0 lead through the opening 24 minutes before allowing the Royals a bit of life early in the third quarter.
“Last year we won provincials, so I was hoping to get an early lead,” said Mustangs head coach Levi Wilcox. “But, I was expecting to do a little bit better for the first game. We got some things to work on like blocking, for sure.”
Mustangs veteran linebacker and running back Rylan Feist got his team onto the board 1:19 into the 2017 WBFL campaign, by picking up a short Royals punt near midfield and running the ball down the sideline into the end zone.
Donavan Wooldridge added a second major and convert late in the first quarter, before Feist notched another touchdown near halftime by picking off an Ethan Fornier throw about 45 yards from the Royals goal line, and running the ball in for the touch down.
“I just saw the running back coming out and I saw the quarterback’s eyes,” said Feist. “My instinct was just to run over and I caught it and ran it back.”
Royals running back Aden Pelley rattled off a couple of big runs to start the third quarter.
He capped off the drive with a three-yard plunge into the end zone at the 4:16 mark, which brought the score to 22-7 with the Dominic Brisbois convert.
The Mustangs defence stepped up their play after the goal by snuffing out any Royals attempts in the red zone and continually pressuring the opposition quarterbacks.
Wooldridge and Xander Pierce added insurance markers late in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring.
“In practice, one of our main concerns is outside runs,” said Feist about their defence keeping the Royals attack at bay.
“Outside linebackers are always watching the outside and making sure no one can get out. We showed it today.”
Wilcox said the Mustangs lost a lot of their veteran core to graduation following last fall’s provincial championship, including a majority of their offense.
He said they’ve been working in practice over the past three weeks to get all the new players accustomed to their jobs, but there are still a few areas in need of finessing.
“Judging by this game,” said Wilcox, “we’re going to have to go over a lot of blocking, some tackling and our contain.”