Wolverines get ‘dose of reality’ in home opener

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CANMORE – Unnecessary roughness, misconduct penalties and topped off with a loss: it wasn’t a season home opener worth remembering for the Canmore Wolverines.

The high school football team was blanked 21-0 by the visiting Taber Rebels at Millennium Field on Saturday (Sept. 1).

The Wolverines were hard-pressed against the top-tier team, struggling with blocking, tackling and a shaky offence through four quarters, although being “rusty” came to mind for head coach Wade Buckley.

“We weren’t ready,” Buckley said. “We played decently, which is admirable, it’s good, but we didn’t play good and we didn’t play great so we’ve got work to do.”

The loss is a “dose of reality” for his Wolverines, Buckley added, and it gives the coaching staff a clear area of where work needs to be done in practice before Saturday’s (Sept. 8, 1 p.m.) home game against the Pincher Creek Mustangs.

“We’re going to start with some tackling and then we’re going to move to more tackling. We might split it up with some blocking and then some more tackling,” Buckley said.

The Rebels’ defence rushed and harassed Wolverines quarterback Elliot Jantz after most snaps, forcing off-balance passes from the rookie quarterback.

Jantz threw for 81 yards with a 50 per cent pass completion rate.

He handed it off to running back Albert Reed 11 times, from which he rushed for 71 yards – the most yards on the team.

Buckley said it’ll take time, but he thought Jantz made good offensive decisions in his first start as QB.

After a feel-good stop on the Rebels’ first offensive possession, going the other way the Wolverines’ started slow, riding the momentum of big catches or runs to push up the field throughout four quarters.

One of Jantz’s throwing targets this year is Max Waldbauer, a Grade 12 wide receiver, who made three catches for 60 yards.

“I thought I did pretty good, it was my first game back in Canmore after I moved away, so it felt good,” Waldbauer said.

The Wolverines’ running and receiving showed promise for the year, but ultimately, last Saturday was not their day and they were unable to conjure up a threatening drive toward the end zone.

Despite some big catches, the Wolverines were snubbed from the scoreboard, and they’ll work toward finding formulas that fit – a learning curve the team will take together, said Grade 12 quarterback Jantz.

“A lot of plays where we executed we showed them what our potential is, but there were others where we went down to their level and we weren’t executing and all that,” Jantz said. “The best way to overcome being nervous is to just be prepared and minimalize the mistakes.”

“I think it’s a good lesson builder for sure,” Buckley said. “It tells you where you are and where you’re strong and where you’re weak.”

Despite the loss, Buckley said win, lose, or draw, it was good to get one game under the Wolverines’ collective belts.

“It’ll measure people up and see if they want to play football or if they just like wearing the jersey,” he said.

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Jordan Small