The Central Cyclones set an early tone Saturday.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Central's Chris Cooper tries to carry a pair of Swift Current Colts defenders as he powers for extra yards Saturday.
By time the Swift Current Colts matched their intensity it was too late to mount a comeback in their Moose Jaw High School Football League quarter-final.
The Cyclones held on for a 33-22 win over the Colts to advance to league semifinal Saturday against Peacock.
In the other quarter-finals, Yorkton beat Vanier 41-6 and Weyburn beat Estevan 51-0.
Cyclones 33 Colts 22
Central forced two big turnovers in the first quarter. They turned them into points and never trailed.
“I put that on the defence. The defence played really great,” said Central coach Collin Belsher of his team’s fast start. “Our focus this week was for our defence to set the tone. All year our offence has been putting up points. I showed them the balance of points for-and-against and they saw that we were in the negative.”
The Cyclones forced a fumble after their first punt of the game. They had to settle for a Thomas Spence field goal, but seized the early momentum. Another Spence field goal put the Cyclones ahead 6-0 when Braydon Marushka tipped a pass attempt and Tyson Pisio came down with the interception. That started another Cyclones drive in the Colts half of the field.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with two really big turnovers. Our defence did a good job to force a couple of field goals early in the game,” said Colts head coach Derek Murdoch.
The Cyclones turned the second turnover into a touchdown. Zach Hagerman scored on a four yard run on the final play of the quarter to put the Cyclones ahead 13-0.
“I think our bigs our-manned their bigs and that opened up some space for me. I thought all-around our offence had a good game today,” said Hagerman, a Grade 10, who rushed for 163 yards.
“I’m getting more used to the game at the high school level. It’s definitely a step from the Elks level, but with this team it’s pretty easy to get used to it.”
The Colts marched the ball and Jackson Goodfellow scored the first of his two one-yard touchdowns on the day.
The Cyclones offence responded with two late touchdowns before the half. Jacob Laboccetta caught a one-yard pass from Parker Chow and then Chow scrambled 37 yards for another touchdown. The Cyclones led 27-7 at the half.
“It was a great win for us,” said Belsher. “The front line for our offence really played well. The leadership of Braydon Johnson and the young guys following with him really helped control the line. That let Hagerman to pick up some yards.”
The Cyclones have a lot of speed and finesse at the skill positions, but they ran the ball for 310 yards — much of that between the tackles — as they got behind their powerful offensive line.
“That’s Hagerman’s strength,” Belsher said of the inside running game. “He’s a hard runner. He’s going to put two hands on the ball and he tries to get those hard yards. He breaks one once in awhile, but he tries to follow the bigs inside. Eventually that opens it up for the outside.”
Chow finished with 96 yards rushing and 96 passing.
“That’s one of the things we focused on. We were working hard in practice,” said Braydon Johnson, the leader on their offensive line, said of their running game. “I was happy with how our offensive line was able to move the ball. Parker was very calm and Zach worked hard as a first-year player on this team.”
Chow scored his second rushing touchdown to give the Cyclones a 33-7 lead, but the Colts didn’t quit.
Goodfellow scored another touchdown and after a Cyclones turnover, Marcus Mayall connected with Jordan Braun for a 78-yard touchdown pass on a halfback option pass. That major cut the Cyclones lead to 33-22 with 2:26 left, but the Colts’ onside kick attempt failed.
“I’m proud of the battle. It just would have been nice if we had that same intensity and battle in the first half,” said Murdoch. “We’re a young team and I don’t know if we matched their intensity today.” Jaxyn Draper also had an interception for the Cyclones who forced four turnovers.
Raiders 41 Vikings 6
The Vikings played with a lot of pride and held the explosive Yorkton offence to two touchdowns for almost the entire first half.
“It was 14-0 until there was about 30 seconds left in the first half. The whole first half we hung with them pretty well,” said Vanier head coach Ryan Gottselig. “It was probably our best effort of the year.”
The Vikings used Matt Stefanovic at quarterback and he ran in for their lone touchdown.
Vanier will only lose three seniors. They were plagued by low participation numbers and Gottselig believes the growing pains they experienced this season will pay off down the road.
“The guys we had out were committed to the cause. Towards the end of the year I think they were a little more committed and a little more inspired about next year. We really tried to sell it as the first year of a rebuild of sorts,” said Gottselig. “I give credit to the kids for hanging in there and committing to that idea of being better every day.”