Redmen fans were loud and anxious as they sat on the edge of their seats watching the Maple Creek Redmen fight for a win in the provincial semi-finals, Nov. 5
The semi-finals saw the Maple Creek Redmen face off against the Clavet Cougars for a spot in the finals against the Lumsden Devils.
The Redmen fought for every inch against the evenly matched Cougars to come out on top with a 46-40 win.
The crowd was an active participant in the game, loudly exclaiming with every catch, tackle, missed opportunity and penalty for and against the home team.
Redmen Head Coach Dale Udal said after the game, it was great for the team to see the town out to support them.
“We have great fans. Saskatchewan has really strong football, and the fans are devoted and you could see that today,” Udal said.
The Redmen used the support of the gathered crowd and the cheers and shouts from their own bench in every quarter of the game.
It was an even game for both sides with the Redmen fighting for their first downs only to have the Clavet Cougars push them back.
The Cougars got the first touchdown of the game after Maple Creek gave a turnover on downs early in the first quarter.
“We knew going into this game that we were going to be evenly matched. They are a big team and we had to hope our speed would work for us,” explained Coach Udal.
Taking possession of the ball after the Cougars first touchdown, the Redmen made a very successful drive down the field.
Their second drive of the game included two beautiful passes, both caught by number 15 Travis Brost taking the Redmen deep into Clavet territory at the six yard line.
It was a clean hand off to Hayden Briggs for the Redmen’s first touchdown. Unfortunately the point after was no good, and the Redmen were down by one point 7-6.
The first quarter was a back and forth match. Maple Creek scored their second touchdown of the game just before the end of the first quarter when Redmen quarterback Tristen Sulz saw an opening in the Cougar’s defenses and ran it in for a touchdown.
The first quarter ended with the Redmen still down by one, 14-13.
The Maple Creek defense worked hard to keep the Cougars at bay. Unfortunately the Cougars were able to make it down the field two more times in the second quarter.
Briggs brought the ball home one more time in the second quarter for a spectacular 35 yard touchdown late in the second quarter.
Maple Creek did get possession back with 30 second left in the half, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to make down the field and the first half ended with the Maple Creek Redmen down by a touchdown, 27-20.
The Redmen came back after half-time with fire in their veins.
“We told them they needed to calm down. They were a little to worked up in the first half and that caused some mistakes,” Coach Udal said.
Udal explained passion is great when playing football, in fact he said “you need passion” to be able to play the game, but it can’t get in the way.
Whatever the Redmen coaches said to their players in the locker room to calm them down seemed to have helped as they team came back in the third quarter with a vengeance.
Number 32 Parker Campbell caught a 40 yard catch for a first down which ultimately gave the Redmen their chance to tie up the game when a few players later Briggs once again ran the ball in for a touchdown.
Briggs could not be stopped as roughly two minutes of game play later he ran it in for his fourth touchdown that game.
For the first time in the game the Maple Creek Redmen took the lead, and they were determined to keep it.
Thanks to three incomplete passes from the Cougars, Maple Creek once again had possession of the ball.
It was number seven Dayne Jackle who got his hands on the ball and ran it in for an outstanding 40 yard touchdown.
But the third quarter still wasn’t over and it was the awe-inspiring interception by number 22 AJ Cruz that sealed it.
Cruz returned the ball from deep in Redmen territory and ran it in for a touchdown without a Cougar touching him.
“We played really well today. I am very proud of these boys,” said Udal.
Let’s not forget about the Redmen defense who played an amazing game Saturday. In the third quarter they gave up only one touchdown to the visiting Clavet Cougars late in the quarter.
When the quarter ended Maple Creek was up by two touchdowns with a score of 46-34.
It was the final quarter when the fans were the noisiest and the game was at its tensest.
The Cougars were able to make it to the goal line late in the fourth making it a one touchdown game for the win.
The Redmen defense turned the Cougars back again and again, trying to set up the offense for one last touchdown before the end of the game. That was not meant to be.
“Our defense was great this game. They [Clavet Cougars] are really good at switching things up and finding your weakness and exploiting it. It is hard to play against them and I think they boys did it well,” Udal said.
Thirty second left on the clock, and the Cougars have the ball on their 45 yard line. It all came down the Redmen defense stopping the drive and running down the clock.
Four second left and the Cougars still have possession of the ball. All they need is one long pass and the game would be over.
A tackle from the defensive line won the game for the Redmen with a final score of 46-40.
“We are really excited, I think this is the first time since the 1980s the team has made it to the finals. Its definitely the first time in my career that we’ve made it,” explained Udal.
The Maple Creek Redmen will face off against the Lumsden Devils, a team they lost to earlier in the regular season, for the championship title.
Coach Udal looks forward to meeting the team again on the field and hopes to make up for the game they lost back in September.
“Last time we didn’t play as well as I know we can. This time I think we can show Lumsden what our team can do,” he said.
Kick off for the provincial final will be in Lumsden Sat., Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. in Lumsden.