PK pigskin perfect
Blues 4-0 as the team to beat in the metro Edmonton league's Miles conference
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 28, 2013 06:00 am
The Paul Kane Blues are the real deal in high school football after beating the Ardrossan Bisons with first place on the line Thursday.
Billed as a preview of the metro Edmonton league’s Miles conference final, the Blues battled back from an early 12-0 deficit with 43 unanswered points at Riel Recreation Park.
“It’s a big character win. We came out flat but our guys really showed what they have inside,” said Grade 12 standout Tyler Turner after the 43-20 decision. “It was a battle for the top and I knew we had it in us, we just had to execute.”
Both teams were 3-0 and ranked fifth in their respective provincial tiers prior to the Miles showdown.
“To be 4-0 is pretty awesome. We’ve worked hard to get where we are right now,” said Theo Block, a Grade 12 two-way threat at slotback and defensive halfback.
The Blues, a series contender to represent the metro league in the Tier II (750 to 1,249 students) provincials, can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win this Thursday against the McNally Tigers (2-1), who lost 29-7 last week to Ardrossan, the leading Tier III (450 to 749 students) metro candidate. Kickoff is 5 p.m. at Clarke Park and admission is $5.
“We’re still not where we want to be,” cautioned head coach Rob Strecker during his post-game speech. “The playoffs are what it’s all about, not the regular season.”
The Blues survived a brief scare when Ardrossan scored on its second possession, as quarterback Kyke Boyko hooked up with Brett Enns for 56-yard catch and run to open the scoring. The covert attempt hit the crossbar.
After the kickoff the Blues went two-and-out and Cory Knott’s punt was blocked. Ardrosson huddled up at the Paul Kane seven and two plays later Boyko scored from the two with 5:33 left in the quarter. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
“We came out flat. Maybe our emotions were too high. I would say the nerves got to us a little bit too,” said Turner, the leading receiver in the Miles who also lines up at defensive halfback and is a dangerous punt returner.
The Blues regrouped defensively to hold Ardrossan in check until the opening minute of the fourth quarter, when the Bisons entered the endzone from the one and completed a two-point conversion pass to close out the scoring.
An unrelenting pass rush and air-tight coverage by the backs left Ardrossan reeling on offence. Interceptions by Turner (at the Paul Kane 44 on Ardrossan’s first play from scrimmage in the second half), Block (big return to the Ardrossan 21 in the third quarter) and Ryan Strachan (snuffed out a TD pass late in the game) dashed any comeback hopes. The Blues also dropped a couple of picks.
“We knew (Ardrossan’s quarterback) liked to go deep a lot and we also knew that he didn’t have a dart of an arm. He kind of lofted it up there so we had our linebackers calling when the ball was thrown and then we could just find it in the air and pick it off,” said Block, 17.
The Blues got off to a rocky start on their first possession when Knott was intercepted on second and long from the Ardrossan 27 and the ball was returned to midfield.
The most explosive offence in the Miles got untracked late in the first quarter. Block’s eight-year TD catch under the posts – his seventh of the season from Knott – capped off an 65-yard drive with 24 seconds left until quarter time.
Turner also grabbed Knott’s two-point conversion throw.
“The defence got something like four shutdowns in a row and our offence eventually start clicking,” Block said.
The next time on offence, the second play from scrimmage by the Blues was a TD run from Knott from inside the midfield strip. The Knott-to-Turner combination added two points to make it 16-12.
Knott’s second TD and his Miles-leading ninth of the season was a 10-yard dash. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete.
The 71-yard drive featured tough inside-outside running by Kieran Porter and two pass completions to Shayden Phillip.
The first half ended with a spectacular endzone reception by a diving Turner. Knott kicked the convert to put the Blues up 29-12.
“It was a momentum changer for sure,” said Turner of the 30-plus yard strike for his fourth TD of the season. “It was pretty surreal actually. I just tried to get the ball at its highest point.”
On the previous possession, on third down at the Ardrossan 27, Turner almost pulled off a highlight-reel catch in the endzone on a play similar to his TD grab.
“I really frustrated myself on that one. I just had to get one back,” said Turner, 17, the top receiver in the Carr conference last year who had 26 catches going into Thursday’s game, 13 more than Block, for 367 yards.
In the third quarter Knott threaded the needle to Frankie White for a 27-yard TD and Greg Fleming plowed over the goal line from the 10. Knott converted both TDs.
An offensive pass interference flag on Phillip nullified his 55-yard catch and run TD a few plays after Turner’s pick.
The six TDs gave the Blues 28 in their last three wins. They are averaging an impressive 59 points per game as the team to beat in the Miles.
“We have weapons on the ground. We have weapons in the air. Nobody has been able to stop us yet. Hopefully it stays that way,” Block said.