Despite a fourth quarter that didn’t go according to plan, the ECS Elecs held on for a 30-22 victory over the Swift Current Colts on Thursday to lock up a home playoff game in the Moose Jaw High School Football League.
The win means the Elecs (2-3) will finish no lower than fourth place and, barring a win over undefeated Vanier on Friday and an A.E. Peacock loss to the Colts (0-5), they will host the Colts in a quarter-final game on Tuesday.
“It was a pretty huge win. We wanted to come out and win the one-on-one battles, win the execution and I thought we did a good job of that,” said Elecs head coach Marco Ricci.
“Towards the end it got away from us, but I still feel that with the guys we had in there, we probably had pretty good control of the game.”
With several Elecs injuries in the fourth quarter and many starters having been taken out, the Colts scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes on passing plays of nine and 12 yards.
“We thought we’d try to get some guys some rest, obviously because we had so many injuries. The guys that come in gotta realize that they have to play hard and they gotta continue the strong play we were getting at the start of the game,” said Ricci.
Running back Dustin MacCuish got the Elecs on the board with a 10-yard scamper midway through the first quarter.
On the last play of the quarter, a botched snap on a Colts punt attempt rolled into the end zone and Elecs defensive lineman and erstwhile kicker Kyle Hovind fell on the ball for a touchdown.
”He seems to work real hard at the special teams part of it, so it was just fitting that he ends up scoring a touchdown on a special teams play,” Ricci said.
Estevan would add to their lead in the second quarter when Tyler Hodgson ran the ball down to the one-yard line and then punched it in to make it 20-0. The Elecs would carry that lead into halftime.
The Colts got their first major on a bizarre series of events in the third quarter. The Elecs recovered a fumble at the Swift Current 15-yard line, but on their next play they would fumble it right back and the Colts returned it the length of the field for a touchdown.
Still, as Ricci pointed out, the Colts’ offence was held scoreless until the final two minutes of the game.
”They didn't have an offensive touchdown for those first three quarters, they didn't have many plays at all that were very successful for them, so for the most part I thought our defence came out real strong,” he said.
ECS followed that up with a Jaren Prokop kick return to the Colts’ 29, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Hovind. He was 1-for-2 on the day, having missed a shorter kick late in the first half.
The Elecs took a 30-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter when Kolby Fleury found Bucky Strongeagle in the end zone for a 20-yard completion.
Ricci described the home playoff game against the Colts as a “huge advantage” particularly since Estevan and Swift Current are the only teams not based in Moose Jaw, making travel a factor.
“It was a goal of ours at the beginning of the year. It just gives us a chance to stay in our own dressing room, be at home, cooked meals, good bed, and don’t worry about that travelling thing. It’s nice to play in front of your own fans,” he said.
That said, the league doesn’t take a week off for the 4 vs. 5 game so it will be a quick turnaround for the Elecs.
They host Vanier (5-0) on Friday at 4 p.m. in their regular season finale. They then get ready to host the Colts on Tuesday, and if they win that game, their semi-final match-up against Vanier will be Oct. 22 in Moose Jaw.
For now, the Elecs are focusing on Vanier on Friday.
“You gotta limit your mistakes and you gotta contain their speed,” Ricci said.