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Posted by Jim Lightfoot at Jul 22, 2009 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )
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Win streak snapped at five

Posted by Jim Lightfoot at Jul 19, 2009 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

 Rodney Oracheski

Wainwright Star News

The clouds hanging over Armstrong field at the end of Saturday’s game were both figurative and literal.

 After three quarters of falling behind to the defending champion Calgary Wolfpack under clear blue skies, the Lloydminster Vandals offense broke out as clouds obscured the sun for the first time all afternoon.

Down 18-0, the Vandals hit the endzone for the first time with 4:42 remaining in the third quarter. Jared Valleau connected first with Jordan Priebe to drive down the field, then hit brother Jess Valleau in the endzone for seven.

After forcing Calgary to punt the ball away, Lloydminster pushed back into the endzone with Valleau finding receiver Andrew Herrick open for a lengthy catch and run for a touchdown.

Down 18-13 before the convert, the Vandals failed on a two-point conversion that would have moved them to within a field goal.

With five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lloydminster defense stood tall once again, forcing a Calgary turnover and bringing the Vandals offense back onto the field.

Late in the fourth quarter, Valleau once again found Herrick for a touchdown. The speedy receiver caught the ball on the Lloydminster side of the center line, shaking off one defender and outrunning two others to the endzone.

Jordan Priebe kicked the point after, booting the ball off the upright and through for a single point, leaving Lloydminster up 20-18 with 4:34 left on the clock.

The Wolfpack powered the ball down the field, stopped short at the 35 yard line by the Vandals defense on consecutive attempts and forced into a third-and-long.

With former CFL player Tom Dixon, holder of the CFL regular season all-time record for Most Singles, in the lineup, the Wolfpack opted to go for the field goal.

Dixon put the ball high into the air and through the uprights from 42 yards out, bouncing it off the crossbar and in.

“That was just about the max I could do,” Dixon laughed after the game. “That was a close one.”

Down 21-20, the Vandals took possession of the ball and began a final march down the field.

 Valleau connected with Priebe one last time, finding him at the 25 yard line to get a new set of downs.

With time left on the clock, the Vandals offense decided to keep driving and run down time instead of going for the field goal.

Valleau scrambled on the first down, throwing off a pair of would-be tacklers before being brought down after a short gain. On the next series, his pass was intercepted by Robb Sherman, allowing the Wolfpack to run down the clock and finish the game on top.

The loss drops Lloydminster back into a tie with the Grande Prairie Drillers for first place. The two teams will break that tie next weekend when they meet in Grande Prairie.

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Familiar foe snaps Vandals' streak

Posted by Jim Lightfoot at Jul 19, 2009 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

Vandals’ perfect season snuffed as Wolfpack hold on to win a wild one

Carl Carter Lloydminster Meridian Booster

A timely interception and some unlucky bounces brought the Lloydminster Vandals’ unbeaten season to a screeching halt at Armstrong Field on Saturday.

The Vandals were hoping for some redemption as they battled the Calgary Wolfpack in a rematch of last season’s Alberta Football League championship game – which the Wolfpack went on to win, 43-21. Unfortunately for the home side the result was still the same this time around as the Wolfpack walked away with the 21-20 win in a wild game that saw the Vandals put together an amazing second half.

“It’s the first loss of the season but there’s a lot to learn from it,” said Vandals rookie linebacker Jama Njoku. “We came out really slow in the first half, made a couple mistakes, we made some adjustments. In the second half we played miraculous football though.”

Slow starts have been a thorn in the Vandals’ side for most of the season, and this game was no different as the Wolfpack went into halftime with an 18-0 lead and all the momentum.

“We got to play a full 60 minutes. We didn’t play. We started playing at halftime,” said receiver Andrew Herrick. “Our defence can only stay on the field for so long, so I think if we put in a full 60 minutes, a complete game, I think we’re good to go.”

The Vandals woke up in the third quarter as quarterback Jared Valleau caught his brother Jess in the end zone with a pass to put them on the board. The Vandals also raised their game on defence and special teams as they held the Wolfpack scoreless in the third quarter, and then turned the tide in the fourth quarter when the Vandals Regan Schell recovered a punt that was misplayed by the Wolfpack. The Vandals didn’t waste any time cashing in on the turnover, as Valleau hooked up with Herrick on the very next play, and Herrick ran it in for his first of two touchdowns on the day.

He just finds me. I get open and he gets me the ball, and then I do my thing,” said Herrick, adding they made some changes during halftime that really improved their play on the field. “We made some adjustments and brought in a little extra blocking to give Jared some time, and (if) Jared has time – he’s a great athlete – he finds us open and lets his receivers make some plays.”

Luck seemed to play a big role in Saturday’s outcome as the Vandals couldn’t convert on the point after on Herrick’s score. The Wolfpack also caught a couple lucky bounces in the fourth, as their receiver caught a pass that was tipped and juggled in the air by a Vandals defender. That catch set up what proved to be the game-winning field goal, as Wolfpack kicker Tom Dixon placed a kick that hit the bottom goal post and just bounced in between the up rights.

“There was a couple tough breaks, a couple lucky catches, miracle catches, but other than that we learn from it, move on,” said Njoku, as the Wolfpack seemed to catch all the breaks in Saturday’s game.

The Vandals would not go away, however, and seemed poised to take their first lead after Valleau hit receiver Jordan Preibe for a 36-yard pass that put them within the Wolfpack’s 30-yard line. The Wolfpack caught another break, however, as Valleau coughed up an interception that allowed Calgary to run down the clock.

“It hurts right now but in the long run we’ll work a little bit harder, go back to practice, and hope to see them in the final,” said Herrick. “I think we showed we belong, we just got off to a slow start.”

Up next the Vandals will head to Grande Prairie to face the Drillers.

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Vandals set to defend perfect record

Posted by Jim Lightfoot at Jul 16, 2009 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

 Rod Oracheski

Wainwright Star Chronicle

It’s become a trend for the Lloydminster Vandals, with every week offering up a new challenge that’s their biggest of the season.This weekend is no exception, as they’ll take on the Calgary Wolfpack Saturday afternoon.

Calgary, the defending Alberta Football League (AFL) and Canadian National champions, hits town with a 3-2 record that belies the strength the team possesses.With the return of slotback Mike Leason, along with a handful of other offensive weapons, the Wolfpack are on a two game winning streak and coming off a 39-6 win over the Red Deer Buccaneers that saw them put up 584 yards on offence.

The Wolfpack continue to rely heavily on an aerial game, with quarterback Daryl Leason responsible for 527 of those yards. Leason went 28 of 46 with five touchdowns in the game, connecting with 11 different receivers.

Despite the slow start to the season, the Wolfpack have been strong offensively - currently second in the league in Points For with 172. The Grande Prairie Drillers, who sit at 4-1 after a loss to the Edmonton Stallions last weekend, hold a three-point lead in that category.

The Vandals defence will prove a greater test than the Buccaneers did, however.Lloydminster operates the stingiest defence in the league, allowing a league-best 48 Points Against over the five games played and posting the only shutout game so far this season.

In addition, the Vandals had three names in the top five for Interceptions stat last season, and they’ll be looking to shut down Calgary’s passing game from the opening series.“They’re a pretty one-dimensional team,” Glen Dembicki, Vandals president and player, remarked. “If you let them throw the ball, that’s all they’ll do all game long. They can run the ball, but it’s not their strength. If we can force them into a ground game, then I think we’ll win it. If we can’t shut down their passing game, it gets a whole lot more difficult to win.”

Dembicki said that shutting down Calgary’s high-powered offence will require the entire defence to bring its ‘A’ game.“Obviously we want to get in on Leason and put him on the ground, but they’ve got a good line that’ll make that tough,” he said. “We’re going to be relying on guys like [Brock] Priebe, [Dirk] Treptow, and [Cole] Payne to leave him nobody to throw to and give the other guys time to get in there and get a hand on him.”

The two teams meet Saturday, July 18 on Lloydminster’s Armstrong Field. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m.

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Wolfpack pick apart Bucs

Posted by Jim Lightfoot at Jul 13, 2009 5:00PM PDT ( 0 Comments )

RED DEER ADVOCATE

Wolfpack pick apart Bucs

By Danny Rode - Red Deer Advocate

Published: July 13, 2009 7:43 AM

Wolfpack 39

Buccaneers 6

The Red Deer Buccaneers have one of the youngest defensive backfields in the Alberta Men’s Football League and the Calgary Wolfpack took full advantage of it Saturday.

Wolfpack quarterback Darryl Leason threw for 527 yards and five touchdowns as the defending national champions rolled to a 39-6 victory at Great Chief Park.

“We have a bunch of young guys back there and they’re just missing a bit both mentally and physically,” said Buccaneers head coach Dave Hanni. “We have three or four rookies back there all the time. We’re missing Devon Hand our best cover guy, who has a broken hand, and Keegan Poelzer is only in his second year. Darren Stroschein is the only one with extended experience and he can only do so much.

“So we’re young but that’s what we have. We throw them in there and they learn from their mistakes. “Overall it was disappointing today, but not surprising, we were up against one of the premier passers in the league,” added Hanni. But the Bucs did show some bright spots on defence as they limited the Wolfpack to 60 yards rushing and both Keegan and Kenton Poelzer had interceptions.

In fact the Poelzer brothers both had busy days. Offensively Kenton finished with seven carries for 25 yards and caught three passes for 41 yards while defensively he had three solo tackles and three assisted tackles to go with one pass knocked down and the interception. Keegan finished with four solo and one assisted tackle to go with the 36-yard return on his interception.

Offensively the Bucs managed only a pair of field goals — 35 and 21 yards — by Jamie Blinkhorn, but overall they moved the ball as well as they have all season. They finished with 260 yards passing and 56 rushing. “We’ve been improving offensively all season, today it was over 300 yards, but we’re still a play or two away and letting games get away from us,” said Hanni.

“Today Kenton dropped a ball when he had a chance to go all the way. Better teams hit those and better teams rebound from those. But we don’t seem to.” Backup quarterback Andrew Stannix played the second half and turned in a solid performance, hitting on 14 of 25 passes for 206 yards. He did have one interception in the end zone. Stannix will be the only quarterback on hand Saturday in Edmonton against the Seahawks.

“Andrew played in a mop-up roll last season and most of this year, but we wanted to get him in there today against some live bullets as he’ll have to go the distance next weekend,” said Hanni. Greg Thompson played the first half, hitting three of nine for 26 yards. Blinkhorn connected on one pass for 28 yards.

the teams finished with four turnovers each. The Buccaneers threw three interceptions and turned the ball over on downs once while the ’Pack tossed a pair of interceptions and lost two fumbles.

 Darryl Leason tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Matt Squires and singles to Mike Leason, Evan Katula and Scott Sargent. Former Ottawa Rough Rider Tom Dixon had five converts, an 18-yard field goal and a single on a wide field goal attempt.

 Blinkhorn finished with five catches for 83 yards, returned two punts for 14 yards and a kickoff 47 yards . . . Corey Pusey had four catches for 38 yards while Ryan Otto grabbed three passes for 30 yards, Adam Donovan two for 42 and Alex Rinehart two for 26 . . . Stroschein finished with four solo tackles and six assisted tackles . . .

The Bucs saw their record drop to 0-5 while the Wolfpack sit at 3-2 . . . The Bucs next home action is July 25 against the Parkland Panthers, at 6 p.m.

drode@reddeeradvocate.com