HARD EARNED HARDWARE - Explosion players Eric Nikolai

HARD EARNED HARDWARE - Explosion players Eric Nikolai

Lacombe Explosion captures third straight provincial title

For the third year in a row, the Lacombe Explosion are the Alberta Pee Wee provincial champions.

For the third year in a row, the Lacombe Explosion are the Alberta Pee Wee provincial champions.

Last Saturday at Shouldice Athletic Park in Calgary, the Explosion defeated the Cochrane Lions 35–7 to win claim the title once again.

Explosion Head Coach Fred Knip said that the feeling of winning a championship, while familiar, is always welcome.

“It does not get old. It’s exciting. These players accomplished something.”

Both teams came into the game undefeated.

Cochrane boasted a 9-0 record while the Explosion had one more win with a 10-0 record, said Knip.

Cochrane claimed first blood by scoring within the first minute of the game after recovering a Lacombe kick-off fumble.

After the conversion the scoreboard read 7-0 in favour of the Lions, however, it would be the last points they scored.

Knip said the players were very upset that their opponents had capitalized off a Lacombe mistake and scored so early in the game.

“They thought, ‘What is going on here?’”

Knip however, was somewhat glad the mistake was made so early in the game, he said.

“My first reaction was, well good, we go that out of the way.”

While fumbling the kickoff and enabling Cochrane to score first did not make for a good Lacombe start, the Explosion would more than make up for its mistake and would do so quickly.

On the very next kickoff, Richard Jans ran the ball 82 yards and scored to put Lacombe on the board making the score 7-6.

Jans was the player who had fumbled the ball on the previous play, said Knip and as such Jans was both angry with himself and very eager to make up for his mistake.

Knip added that, while the players may have been a bit shaken by their unfortunate start, he had confidence that his team could persevere.

“These boys, they believed that they could do it,” said Knip. “One step at a time, one play at a time, they did it.”

Cochrane marched the ball to the Explosion one yard line before fumbling it and allowing Ryker Lunn to recover the ball.

On the next play Jans took the ball on an off-tackle hand-off and ran 109 yards for another Lacombe touchdown.

After a successful one-point conversion, the score was 13-7 in favour of Lacombe at the end of the first quarter.

In the next quarter, Lacombe continued to gain momentum.

Jans added two more runs of 32 and 26 which allowed Simon Gray to sprint in for a third Lacombe touchdown.

A two-point conversion then made the score 21-7 for the Explosion.

Three minutes later Jans ran 68 yards for his third touchdown of the game.

The scoreboard read 29-7 for Lacombe at halftime.

Knip said that he didn’t expect or intend for the game to end in a blow-out, but that the Lions showed their fatigue as the Explosion kept up the hard pace.

In the second half, the Explosions changed their tactics to kill the clock and held off the Cochrane Lions in a ‘bend, but do not break,’ defense. Valuable time was eaten up and neither team scored in the third quarter.

Knip said conditions played a big part in the game, particularly in the second half.

“Their players were falling like flies,” said Knip of the Lions.

He added that the Lions were not able to keep up with Lacombe as the Explosion, knowing they had a shorter bench, had put heavy focus on conditioning the last few practices.

In the fourth and final quarter, Lacombe kept the ball on the ground and continued to kill the clock while preventing the Lions from moving forward at all.

With 3:23 left in the game, Josh Green took a hand-off and marched eight yards to the end zone to make the final score 35-7 for Lacombe.