The Cochrane High Cobras fought back from a 26-14 halftime deficit to beat the Henry Wise Wood Warriors 50-48 in a 3½-hour marathon match on November 12 that was settled in the fifth extension.
The Cobras are now one step away from the big game and host the All Saints Legends in the Larry Wilson High School Tier One South Finals on Saturday, November 19. Kick-off is at 1 p.m.
In possibly the toughest battle in the high school provinces so far this season, the Cobras came back from a 26-14 first half deficit to nearly win 32-29 in regulation until the Warriors score a touchdown to tie the game with zeros. on the clock.
The Warriors dominated early, leading 16-0 midway through the second quarter with a pair of touchdowns and a safety. Cobras receiver Ethan Clazie had his first of several touchdowns to put the Cobras on the scoreboard 23 seconds later. The Cobras continued to cut their lead and tied it 29-29 midway through the fourth. The Cobras took a short field goal lead with 1:17 to play.
A turning point for the Warriors came when their star running back Jordayne Falconer went down hard with severe leg cramps, which got the better of their offense. However, he returned to the field to play a smaller role.
Warriors coach Kevin Tonak said Falconer has struggled with leg cramps in recent games and has plenty of court time on both sides of the ball.
The battle continued to rage through five overtimes until Cobra Ethan Clazie caught a low pass in the end zone for a touchdown. followed by a two-point conversion. The Warriors responded with a touchdown but were denied a two-point conversion but a miserly Cobras defense.
Cobras head coach Rob McNab said the team had been in several intense matchups, but nothing like it.
“We had extra time and many exciting games, but wow!” McNab said. “I mean, it was just a back and forth battle. I’m proud of our kids because that first quarter and a half just didn’t go our way. During the halftime talk , we said hey, let’s play football, let’s go out and play Cobras football and win the half.”
“We knew it was going to be difficult. We just have to play football, and that’s what makes it fun. I’m a bit too old for that. My heart almost skipped.”
It was another rock solid performance from the entire Cobras receiving corps, led by Ethan Clazie.
“We spread the ball very well, but I have to tell you when you’re in the big game the big players make big plays. He came to play today, I mean both sides of the ball. He has also been brilliant on special teams. This is probably the best effort I’ve seen from a high school kid in a long time.
Even when the Cobras were down, Clazie says the team never lost faith.
“We all knew we had to keep going, and we couldn’t stop.”
Lineman O Nathan Jasmin-Cara says it was the longest game he has ever played.
“They fought well,” he said. “It was very touching at the end, but I’m proud of everything and how our boys managed to give us the win.”
Cobras wide receiver Larsen Tate said he was a nail-biter who will only help the Cobras prepare for the next game.
“There was a lot of stress towards the end, but it was good that we got the win. Next week we have a good opponent and we will try to play a bit better.”
The competition gets tougher the higher you climb the provincial ladder, and that’s especially true in Tier 1 ball when every game is a matchup against a bigger high school.
Cobras defensive coordinator Tom Knitter says it’s okay. They made the leap to the first tier to provide their players with tougher competition.
“City schools are fantastically run programs and our guys just need to focus on preparing and delivering a great game like they did today.”
He says the game has been so long that you have exceeded the game plan.
“We don’t have any fourth and fifth overtime and two-point conversion play calls, but I’m so proud of the way the guys played, and hats off to Wise Wood. I think that’s the best they delivered for today’s game.”
Coach Tonak is proud of his team’s performance during a difficult season.
“I think our kids left it all on the pitch and that’s all you can ask of them. We’ve had a tough year and we felt like we hit our stride a bit tonight and “to have played well on both sides of the ball. They were called both ways, it wasn’t one way, so it was a battle and it was tough. We are proud of our efforts.
The Legends advanced to the South Final by defeating the Notre Dame Cougars, 42-7.
Was it the longest provincial game of all time?
It may be the longest game in the new overtime format for high school football, but it’s by no means the longest game played.
“There was a game in 1992 between Salisbury and Grande Prairie that took four extra quarters of extra time to play when it was an extra quarter – not the shootout, the extra innings, the style that ‘they’re using now,” says Tim Enger, director of Football Alberta.
“There was a USport game between the University of Alberta and the University of Manitoba in 2017 that took seven overtimes to decide, but it was the longest I’ve ever recorded at the high school level with the new form.”