Blues rattle Sabres
Tyler Turner catches three touchdown passes for Paul Kane in Tuesday's 24-23 upset of Salisbury in high school football
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 29, 2012 06:00 am
The Paul Kane Blues proved they can play with the big boys in metro Edmonton high school football in Tuesday’s one-point upset of the Salisbury Sabres.
Tyler Turner caught three touchdown passes from quarterback Cory Knott and the Blues snuffed out a fake field goal by Salisbury in the last minute of play to preserve the 24-23 Carr Conference victory at Riel Recreation Park.
“It’s a huge win. We’re a young team and we needed that,” said Turner, a Grade 11 slotback who caught 11 passes for 247 yards against the fourth-ranked Tier I Sabres (2-1). “We’re going to keep rolling and stay optimistic. Every team in this league is good.”
The second win in the two-year history of the senior Blues was bigger than the team’s historic 45-0 drubbing of the O’Leary Spartans (1-3) in the Sept. 6 season opener.
“I would probably magnify this by 100 compared to our first win. O’Leary was a young team and Salisbury is an established team,” said Rob Strecker, head coach of the 2-2 Blues. “I’ve been preaching to the boys that we have the talent and the desire, we just keep making little tiny mistakes because we’re such a young team. The last two games against Bellerose [26-6 loss] and AOB [17-14 loss], it was there for us but those mistakes we made the other teams took advantage of and full credit to them, but tonight we limited our mistakes. The boys did their assignments and it’s reflected on the scoreboard. We got our jobs done and we won the football game.”
Turner’s third TD reception, his sixth in four games, capped off an impressive 12-play, 94-yard drive with 4:06 remaining. Isaac Kong kicked the convert to give the Blues their second lead of the game.
“That last drive was all Tim Enger. His play calling was outstanding,” Strecker said of the Blues’ offensive coordinator, who is also the head coach of the Paul Kane juniors and bantam St. Albert Fury as well as the Football Alberta technical director. “I think we had over 450 yards of offence today. It was just outstanding.”
Turner hauled in Knott’s pass to tie the game at 23 all after a penalty against Salisbury put Paul Kane near the one-yard line following a bootleg by the Grade 11 quarterback. Knott finished 15-for-24 passing for 314 yards.
“It was a pretty good rollout by Cory,” Turner said. “It was just a great way to end a pretty extraordinary drive. We had Cory using his feet and everybody was clicking.”
The key play was a gutsy call by the Blues on third down and four at the Paul Kane 22, when Knott scrambled for a first down as the punter.
“It was a pretty big factor to why we came down the field and got that game-winning touchdown,” Turner said.
The Blues rolled the dice with the game on the line.
“Again, that was all Tim Enger,” Strecker said. “We’re decimated with injuries right now and we had some new guys out there and we weren’t sure if they understand what we need them to do so we just put it in Cory’s hand and said see what you can do for us and he pulled it off.”
Fake field goal
With less than two minutes to play, Salisbury had the ball near the Paul Kane 33 after the Blues were forced to punt from their 13. On third and long Salisbury faked a field-goal kick from about the 35, but were stopped short of a first down at the Paul Kane 28 with 1:40 on the clock.
“I was actually really surprised by it,” said Strecker. “We thought they were going to punt and go for the single. They had the wind and could’ve easily hammered it through. When they were setting up for the field goal I thought they would try and kick it but we have so many great athletes out there that they just ran him down.”
Turner was the lead tackler on the fake field goal.
“It was a good gamble and we just did our best to stop them,” he said. “At first I wasn’t sure we stopped them. I saw the first [yardstick marker] and thought that was the first down and he was past it, but then I realized it wasn’t so I was pretty ecstatic that we stopped them.”
Back on offence, Greg Fleming pulled the Blues into Salisbury territory with a thunderous run to the 39.
“That was a massive call by Tim Enger on that dive by Greg Fleming,” Strecker said. “They were so scared of Cory Knott, they just spread everything out and we just went right up the gut. Greg must have rattled off about 40 yards.”
On third down at the 35, Knott punted the ball out of bounds at the 27 with 55 seconds to go.
On third down, after two incomplete Salisbury passes, Fleming led the defensive charge to sack the quarterback. An unnecessary roughness flag against Salisbury on the play gave the Blues the ball at the seven with 38 seconds left to seal the deal.
“We finished strong as a team,” Turner said. “It was big plays by big players that did it for us.”
Battled from behind
The Blues started the game by fumbling the opening kickoff, but the defence held and Salisbury settled for a field goal.
It was 6-0 in the first quarter when Kong split the uprights from 27 yards out for his fifth field goal in six attempts this year.
Salisbury replied with a punt single and added a TD to make it 14-3 before the Blues rallied to lead by three at halftime on TD catches by Turner of 24 yards with about four minutes to go and a clutch 31-yard grab with 8.2 seconds left in the half. Kong converted both majors.
“It really boosted the team going into the half. We were told by the coaches if we kept our cool and kept going we can have this game,” said Turner, 16, who also lined up at defensive halfback.
The Blues refused to lose after giving up the go-ahead TD on a 63-yard catch and run by Salisbury on the first play from scrimmage to start the second half.
The next time on offence, Salisbury marched the ball from its 20 to the Paul Kane nine, but fumbled and the Blues recovered it.
The defensive line play of Brandon Mounzer, Devin Kraus, Liam Ryan and Quentin Watkins forced Salisbury to cough up the ball three times in the loss.
With 3:19 left until quarter time, the Blues conceded a safety. Salisbury took over the ball at its 35 and put together an impressive drive that ended when Felix Schmidt picked off a pass at the Paul Kane eight to end the quarter.
“The boys showed they have character to battle back from a little bit of adversity after Salisbury scored off the get-go in the second half and then moved the ball again,” Strecker said.
The Blues were coming off a tough loss to the Austin O’Brien Crusaders (1-2), ranked third in Tier II, that could easily have been a victory.
“When we watched the film, the boys realized there were opportunities out there that we didn’t take advantage. We also had so many little mistakes and they were correctable mistakes,” Strecker said. “AOB had two massive runs, but other than that we kept them in check. Offensively we were moving the chains, but we couldn’t end our drives and tonight we did.”
Friday the Blues played the Ardrossan Bisons (2-2), but the score was unavailable at press time.
Next week the Blues battle the St. Albert High Skyhawks (3-1) Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Riel turf field. Admission is $5.