The Central Alberta Prairie Fire came up short of opening the Calgary Spring Football Association season on the right foot Friday night.
In what were cool, damp conditions at M.E. Global Field, the team jumped out to a 16-14 lead over the Calgary Mavericks in the first half. In the second, however, their offence fizzled and they fell 30-16 to their opponents.
“We came out of the gate well. We weren’t executing well in the end. In between, some of the newer things we’ve installed we did well, which I’m happy with,” said Adam Donovan, offensive coordinator for the Prairie Fire.
“Some of the overall execution, we’re going to have to watch film, go back to the drawing board and figure it out.”
Momentum shifted from the Prairie Fire to the Mavericks late in the second, with the team giving up a safety, followed by a Mavericks touchdown which brought them within two points.
The Prairie Fire were unable to respond in the third and final quarters, with every spark of offence quickly put out by their opponents. The Mavericks added another 16 points to their score, including three field goals by kicker Johnathan Giustini.
“There was lots of pressure, and when there was the relief valves we had built in, there was a little miscommunication and we weren’t reading the proper stuff,” Donovan said. “It’s just a matter of small tweaks here and there. One guy can make a huge difference if you see him.
“We’re going to have to shore up our front end – if we get pressure like that we have to be able to hold the water.”
The game marked the team’s first of the season, but it wasn’t originally supposed to be. Lingering winter conditions saw fields in Calgary left uncleared, which delayed the start of the season by a few weeks.
The delay wasn’t necessarily a bad thing for a team looking to improve on their 2-4 record last year.
“It creates a little bit of stagnant practice time. You have to find a way to keep the kids pumped, keep them going and stuff like that. Other than that, more preparation’s always good on a coordinator’s level,” Donovan said.
Local players on the Prairie Fire this year include Turner Douglas (defensive back), Ethan Quance (linebacker), Ryker Lunn (linebacker), Ezra West (offensive lineman), Richard Jans (receiver) from Lacombe and Cody Melnychuk (full back) and Cameron Wetzel (offensive lineman) from Blackfalds.
The Prairie Fire’s next game is on April 19 at Calgary’s Shouldice Athletic Park against the Calgary Raiders, followed by the Calgary Hilltoppers April 27. They won’t return to Lacombe for any kind of game action until their annual Orange Bowl on May 16.
The game was called with 1:30 left to play in the final quarter, due to a Prairie Fire player suffering injury on the field which required an ambulance… The Calgary Mavericks brought a couple of hockey sticks to M.E. Global Field, placing them underneath the scoreboard to honour the Humboldt Broncos hockey team.