Some valiant Knights came to the aid of some wounded comrades.
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights’ defence didn’t allow any points as HTA downed the Rundle College Cobras 13-7 to clinch the Big Rock Conference regular season title on Thursday.
“We have so much confidence in our defence,” Knights defensive lineman Jacob Kamajian. “We knew that we had to stick our cleats in the ground and keep them (Rundle) contained.”
The Knights improved to 5-0 and are ranked no. 3 in the Tier II rankings.
The defensive effort was needed as Benjamin Leggett, a Grade 10 third string quarterback for HTA, got the start due to second-string QB Julian Jenkins nursing an injured shoulder.
“I heard this morning I was going to start,” Leggett said. “I took a lot of reps in practice this week, so I was ready. Usually I am nervous, but I was pretty calm because I knew our hogs in front, our o-linemen, would give me the protection I need and I have a lot of confidence in our runningbacks.”
Leggett got rid of some rookie nerves when he threw a strike to receiver Riley Dallaire for a 45-yard catch and run taking the ball down to the Rundle 27 yard-line on the fourth play of the game.
“It was a great catch — he got it right off his helmet,” Leggett said.
Just a few plays later, HTA workhorse, runningback Evan Bruynzeel, bulldozed into endzone from six yards out to make it 7-0.
It appeared the Knights were going to steamroll Rundle as HTA was able to move the ball on their second drive, setting up a 28-yard Julian Jenkins approach.
HTA then was snake bit.
A bad snap resulted in Jenkins picking up the ball and trying to throw a pass with an injured wing. Cobra DB Jacob Graham snared the ball and took off for a 90-yard pick six, ultimately tying the game at 7-7.
Jenkins and the Knights’ specialty teams would right the ship as the strong-legged kicker added a pair of field goals to give the team a 13-7 lead at the half.
Defence dominated the final 24 minutes.
There were more yards ran by the recipients at the nearby HTA Class of 2017 awards banquet sprinting upstage to receive their scholarships.
Knights coach Matt Hassett showed confidence in his defence when on a third-and-two near midfield with about three minutes left, he opted to punt and let his defence preserve the 13-7 lead.
“That is what we have done all year, is put it on the back of our defence and play field position,” Hassett said. “The whole unit has stepped up and Evan (linebacker Bruynzeel) has been our leader.”
The defence kept the Cobras deep in their own end in Rundle’s final two possessions. They were helped out by a coffin-corner punt by HTA’s Carson McKenzie that went out on the Cobra one-yard line.
Defensive tackle Hayden Morkin also had a huge sack in the final minutes, one setting up a killer third and 35 for the Cobras with 80 ticks left.
“That feeling was incredible — it was enticing,” Morkin said about the sack. “We felt that we couldn’t let Rundle go further than where we stand — don’t lose that intensity.”
Rundle, a smaller Division IV school, gave its all against the larger Div. II Knights.
“I’m very proud of our guys, I thought we battled hard against a big, talented, physical football team,” said Cobras coach Brent Hargreaves. “That is one of the best defences we have faced this year. They beat us to the ball. We couldn’t maintain our blocks and they made us pay for it… I thought our defence did a tremendous job.”
The win wasn’t pretty, but Hassett was delighted with the result.
“My old coach used to say, ‘Hey, winning ugly is better than losing ugly,” Hassett said with a chuckle.
The banged-up Knights cancelled their scheduled exhibition game against the Henry Wise Wood Warriors this Friday in order to get healthy for the upcoming Big Rock playoffs and possible provincial playdowns.
The Knights next game is Oct. 27 when they host the Big Rock Conference final. It is the first time since 2011 the Knights have hosted the final. That was the year they went to the Tier II provincial final.
HTA will take on the winner of the Foothills Falcons-Rundle semifinal, which is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 20 at the Comp.