Though it dropped them to 1-3 in the Moose Jaw High School Football League standings, Saturday’s 40-21 loss to the Central Cyclones was a bounce-back effort in several ways for the ECS Elecs.
In fact, were it not for a pair of breakdowns in the final minute of the first half, the outcome might have been much different.
The Elecs’ defence stood tall for most of the half, holding the Cyclones (4-1) to a 13-6 lead.
Then quarterback Kolby Fleury was sacked and fumbled deep in Elecs territory, setting up a 12-yard passing major for Central, and they followed that up with a 72-yard punt return after an Estevan two-and-out.
“We went into halftime a little discouraged. We talked about it and said that for the most part, we were in good control, let’s continue to do what we’re doing and win the second half and I thought we did,” said Elecs head coach Marco Ricci.
The Elecs responded with a pair of majors, outscoring the Cyclones 15-13 after the half.
All three Estevan touchdowns came on the ground, with Tyler Hodgson, Dustin MacCuish and Julian Rioux all rushing into the end zone.
Ricci said he’s been “extremely happy” with the team’s running game, which was considered a question mark going into the season.
It was also a strong outing on the defensive side of the ball, Ricci said.
“Realistically, when you break it all down, we gave up two special teams touchdowns and fumbled the ball deep in our own end. They have a real, high potent offence. For the most part, we played with them pretty good,” he said.
Ricci praised his players for applying what the coaching staff worked on during their bye week and for fighting through injuries to produce a respectable effort.
“We went into our bye week and talked about winning the 1-on-1 battles and working one play at a time. I think the guys understood that and started utilizing it in the game. For the most part they played, for the first time this year, as a team,” Ricci said.
“It was kind of a gut check time. We were going through a lot of injuries, lots of guys had to go both ways, so it was a real courageous effort. It’s always tough to come off a bye week and I thought the guys reacted very well.”
Barring the unlikely prospect of winning their last two games, including one against undefeated Vanier, as well as an A.E. Peacock loss to Swift Current, the Elecs will play in the fourth vs. fifth quarter-final game to open the playoffs.
With that in mind, they head into tomorrow’s home game against the Colts (0-4) with a chance to lock up home field advantage in that game.
The winner of the quarter-final will play the first-place finisher from the regular season in the semi-final round.
“We gotta continue to build to go into the playoffs. We want to continue to get better,” said Ricci.
“This game against Swift Current at home is obviously huge.”
Kickoff time is 4 p.m.