The 27-0 final score doesn’t even come close to telling the whole story of the ECS Elecs’ regular season finale against the Vanier Vikings on Friday.
With the Vikings already assured of first place and the Elecs already having locked up a home playoff game, Friday’s contest was solely a tune-up heading into the playoffs.
Estevan held the powerhouse Vikings scoreless for nearly three full quarters, not surrendering the game’s opening touchdown until the last play of the third quarter.
“Very, very impressed. There haven’t been too many teams that have ever kept these guys (scoreless for that long). They have such a potent offence, they can score at any time, and for us to keep them scoreless for almost three quarters, very, very good,” said Elecs head coach Marco Ricci.
“Things got a little bit away from us (in the fourth quarter) and that’s just how they are. You give them a little bit of breathing room and they’ll score some points.”
Mike Stefanovic finally broke the 0-0 deadlock with a 35-yard running touchdown. The Vikings went for two points and failed, giving them a 6-0 edge.
Vanier would then add three touchdowns in the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter to give themselves a cushion.
“Defensively, we wanted to get some two-and-outs and possibly turnovers and I thought we did that very well, and offensively we wanted to move the ball and I think we did a good job of that. Last time we played these guys, they limited us to not many first downs and not many yards,” said Ricci.
Vanier won the last meeting between the two teams 46-0 in Week 2 in Moose Jaw.
The Elecs forced two fumble recoveries and an interception in the first quarter, including a Garrett Earl fumble recovery on the Elecs’ 33 and a Julian Rioux interception at the Elecs’ 20.
Vanier began to threaten near the end of the first half when they returned a punt to the Elecs’ 17-yard line.
Estevan made a stop on first down but then took a roughing the passer penalty that moved the ball to the one-yard line.
The Elecs responded with two big goal-line stands in a row, and then a Vanier receiver dropped a pass in the end zone on the final play of the half.
With several injuries taking their toll, Ricci said several players were asked to step up and see more time on the field.
“Our biggest thing was to make sure that we came out and played hard, because we can’t afford to get anybody hurt, and if you try to take a game easy or anything like that, you get in trouble.”
Among the standouts Friday was defensive lineman Stefan Seipp, who also saw some time at fullback.
“He made some great key blocks and he looks like he’s got a home on the offensive side as well,” the coach said.
Ricci expected to get a few players back from injury for yesterday’s quarter-final game against Swift Current.
A win there would vault the Elecs into the Moose Jaw High School Football League semi-final against Vanier.
“You gotta play courageous, you gotta play physical, you gotta play right to the whistle and every down like it’s your last down,” he said.