Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Thunderbirds decimate Pacers

For the Westlock News.

Thunderbird Aiden Marshall prepares to bowl over Pacer Adam Koons during the club’s 40-0 Oct. 6 home win. The victory was their first of the season and means they’ll face the Vegreville Vortex in the first round of the WFL playoffs on Oct. 15.
Eric Bowling/WN

After a challenging season, the Westlock Thunderbirds zapped the Athabasca Pacers 40-0 during a frigid Wheatland Football League finale in Westlock on Oct. 6.

The win is the club’s first defensive shutout of the season, as well as their first victory.

“This group has just been working really hard week in and week out, so we knew the wins would eventually come,” said head coach Jon Kramer. “We had a real good week at practice and we told the players that the game was going to be won in what we do in practice.

“They played their hearts out, as always, but this week they shored up those little mistakes, tried a few new things and came away with the win. So they were really excited.”

The game was a series of firsts for a number of players. Karstan Kingma caught an interception late in the third quarter and ran the ball across the field to score his first career touchdown.

“He’s a first-year player for us. He was really excited to get the interception and then also return it. It was two firsts for him.”

In the fourth quarter, first-year quarterback Aiden Walker threw a long pass that found tight-end Mark Strach, who carried the ball into the end zone to score his first touchdown.

“That was (Mark’s) first touchdown, and he has been with the program for about four years. So there was a lot of firsts for a lot of players that night. It was a long time waiting for him, so he was pretty excited too.”

The T-Birds now go on to face off against the Vegreville Vortex Oct. 15 in the playoffs. If they can get past them, they will be back in town for the semifinal against a yet-to-be determined foe.

“If we find a way to win that, we’ll be hosting the next weekend here in Westlock. The guys are excited, especially if we win this first one, to come back home for one last playoff game. It’s a pride thing to play in front of your friends and family.”

He added that to get there, the coaches will continue to drill basics and fundamentals.

“We know that the work-ethic is there, but we need to keep practicing. As we get into the playoffs, it’s going to be better and better opponents. There’s a good shot that if we make it into rounds two or three we’ll be facing teams that beat us by 20 points or so. So we need to be ready.”

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