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Cochrane Cobras advance to Tier I south final after dramatic overtime victory against Henry Wisewood

"We were getting outgunned a little bit, but we fought back big time," McNab said of the Hollywood-inspired second-half comeback.

Talk about leaving it late. 

The Cochrane Cobras football team is marching on to the ASAA Tier I high-school south final this Saturday thanks to a dramatic overtime victory against the Henry Wisewood Warriors Nov. 12 at Bow Valley High School. 

Capping off a marathon game that stretched late into the evening, the Cobras withstood five overtime plays before finally scoring the two points needed to edge the Warriors 50-48. 

“It was late – I thought we were going to have to order food," joked the Cobras' head coach Robbie McNab. "There were 196 plays in that game. Generally, games are about 120, 130 plays, so it was a lot of football for the young kids, for sure.”

The Saturday battle was a do-or-die game to advance to the provincial final four. The game came on the heels of the Cobras' confident victory over the Foothills Composite Falcons the week before – their first provincial test at the Tier I level.

“Once again, we were outsized a lot," McNab said of the match-up against Calgary's Henry Wisewood. "Our young little guys hung in there and scrapped."

"I think the lesson is that we’re OK – we can scrap with the biggest of them. Bring the big kids in and let’s see what we can do."

The Cobras started slow against the Warriors, and found themselves down 26-7 toward the end of the second quarter. A late Cochrane touchdown reduced the deficit to 26-14 just before the halftime break.

It meant some rabble-rousing on the sidelines was necessary to pump up the players.

“At halftime, we had to have a conversation about not giving up," McNab said. "We had a rough ride in the first half, but let’s keep going."

Whatever Hollywood-inspired speech McNab and his coaching colleagues gave worked wonders, as the Cobras took control of the contest in the second half, outscoring the Warriors five to three in touchdowns.

By the last minute of the fourth quarter, Cochrane led 48-45.

"We were getting outgunned a little bit, but we fought back big time," McNab said of the second-half comeback.

But the Warriors did their name proud, marching down the field and scoring a field goal on their final drive, with just four seconds left on the clock, to force overtime. 

"I thought we had it, but they did a good job going down the field and kicked a field goal,” Cochrane's head coach said. 

Demoralized by the late equalizer, the Cobras players were told to just keep fighting and stay focused, according to McNab. He said the team's older players were able to lean on their prior experience of competing in overtime.

"Some of these kids had been in [that situation] because we were in it with George McDougall last year," he said. "You just have to play. It’s just play-by-play when you get into overtime and trying not to feel the pressure of the finality of it. We just tried to keep doing what we’d been doing [in the second half].”

After each team squandered their first four attempts to score, the Cobras finally managed to find the end zone on their fifth attempt. Since Cochrane's defence was able to keep the Henry Wisewood offence at bay, it meant Cochrane won the game. 

Now, the Cobras have just one more game to win to earn a spot in the ASAA Tier I Alberta Bowl, which will be contested Nov. 26 at Calgary's Hellard Field. On Nov. 19, Cochrane will host the All Saints Legends of south Calgary, with kick-off slated for 2 p.m. at Bow Valley High School.

For McNab, it will mean a rendezvous with his former University of Calgary teammate, Brian Verlaan, who is head coach of the Legends. 

"All Saints are very talented, big, strong, and have some good speed," McNab said. "It’s going to be a test, but I think our message all week has been that we can hold up with these guys.”

Scott Strasser

About the Author: Scott Strasser

Scott Strasser, editor
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