The Cochrane Cobras are tier III provincial champions again.
The top-ranked Cobras defeated the fourth-ranked Holy Rosary Raiders in the Alberta Bowl Provincial Final for the third straight season by a score of 17-0 at Comets Stadium in Raymond on Nov. 22.
The Cobras needed a bit of time to get the wheels rolling, as the defence came up big like they had all season when Chandler Ball forced a fumble on a strip sack of the Raiders quarterback which was picked up by William Hunter who managed to return it to the endzone to put the Cobras on the scoreboard with a 7-0 lead.
Holy Rosary seemingly found their footing for a few drives but were stung by the Cobras defence, including a Ben Dobson interception in his own endzone late in the second quarter to keep the Cochrane lead. In the fourth quarter, the Cobras blocked a punt which resulted in quarterback Xavier Vaillancourt throwing his final high school touchdown when he found Ethan Stanley in the endzone to push the lead to 14-0 and kicker Oscar Hughes put the finishing touches on the victory with a field goal with just under three to play in the game to seal the victory.
"It was exactly what we thought it was going to be," said Cobras co-head coach Rob McNab on the victory.
"It was a tough, physical, athletic game that was going to go right to the end ... we didn't take control until the middle of the fourth quarter and that's exactly what it was."
The Cobras seemingly found another gear when they needed to, putting the game away late in the fourth.
"We had the wind so we thought that we needed to get this together," McNab said.
"You could tell that they really wanted to win this game and the defence was killing it all game so that really helped. We had the pressure off of us and we thought that if we could score another touchdown, the defence was going to keep us in it and that's what happened."
With the victory, the Cobras recorded their fifth shutout in the 11 games they played, never allowing more than 10 points in any game.
"Our defence traditionally has been a great strength of ours and they really take the pressure off the offence," McNab said when asked if this years defence was one of the best in school history.
"At defence we weren't sure what we had. We lost some key members last year but with the scheme that (defensive coordinator) Ken Polson and the rest the coaches came up with was perfect. Our defence scored and gave us the ball in a really good field position for much of the game and made it easy on the offence. It was windy and tough to move the ball and it was the same for all four games."
The Cobras have a number of key seniors moving onto university next year, including quarterback Xavier Vaillancourt, receivers Dawson Gladue and Derek Reid among others.
"We bring our kids right through from Grade 10 to 12. They watch, they learn, then they lead," said McNab.
"This year's group was no different than the others once it was their turn."
"We had a seniors luncheon a few weeks back and us as coaches said 'hey you've got to win us this game, show these young kids how to win and you want to go down as one of the best teams to play this game in the history of the Cobras program. They did not fail us ... they did a really good job."
While McNab doesn't like to have the spotlight on himself, there was a question mark as to whether or not he had coached his last game with the Cobras.
"There's not question that retirement is looming," McNab said.
"The season is over so I'll have to sit down with my wife and family to discuss what the right decision is for us and the program, but if I was a betting man I could see one more year."
"I don't know if you'll see me past one more year, but if I was a betting man, I'd say you'd see me for one more."