COCHRANE— Starting the season strong, the Cochrane Cobras won their season opener against the Bert Church Chargers on Friday, Sept. 3, in a dominant performance with a score of 50-21 for the home team.
The Cobras came out strong in the opening quarters, closing out the first half of the game 35-14. The Chargers defence began to find its footing, opening the door for a second half comeback, but were unable to stop the Cobras, who got into a rhythm that carried them into the endzone twice more before the end of the game.
Head coach Robbie McNab said he was impressed by the performance put on by his players in their first game of the season.
“You always want to win that season opener for sure, because it will set the tone for the rest of the season,” he said.
Despite their strong start, the Cobras ran into penalty trouble early, racking up more than a dozen penalties in the first half.
“As a coaching staff we were prepared for some mistakes, for sure, and some jitters. I just thought that first quarter was going on a little long for me and then the second quarter we started connecting and I was little more pleased after the first quarter,” he said.
Although McNab and the other coaches were expecting the players to have to shake off the rust from a long year with no competitive play, he said he was impressed by the effort the athletes put in on Friday night.
“I thought we were very sloppy, and I think that's just the whole COVID period and the young kids now that are in the 12th Grade that are trying to feel their way around the field,” he said. “I thought it was pretty sloppy, a lot of penalties, we’re going to have to clean up a lot of that for sure, but I was pleased with the kids’ effort. They were hustling, they were tired, it was a warm night, but for the most part I thought their effort was very good.”
“I think some of those penalties are just – the kids are so anxious to do well they jump the gun on some things. In some areas we’ve just got to do a little better coaching, I think it’s on us as coaches too, to make sure that they’re prepared. I think some of the special teams, we got penalties on special teams and that’s on us, not necessarily on these young kids. We’ve got to do a little more teach time on what a penalty looks like on special teams for sure. We’ve just got to clean it up, we’ve got to talk about, go through the film and clean it up.”
The drive to succeed that McNab sees in the young athletes is reassuring, he said, as that energy can be channeled by the coaching staff.
“These kids, they want to succeed, they want to continue on the Cobra tradition, they want to be a part of the legacy of the cobra football program that’s been going on for years and years. They’re very anxious to be that next team, and sometimes you just jump the gun a little bit on some offside or hanging on to a guy’s sweater or something like that, we’ve just got to reel them in a little.”
Other than the penalty trouble the Cobras saw in their season opener, McNab said he plans to put a larger emphasis on conditioning the players in the coming weeks.
“By the middle of the second quarter some of our kids were bagged. That might be on us for not running them hard enough during practice or them not coming into camp in shape, but we only went a week, so we’re really going to focus in the next little while on some conditioning. Game conditioning, not just running them all over the place, but things that are really meaningful within that 20 second period where they’re out there and then they’ve got to recover.”
All in all, McNab said, the win was big for the Cobras as it sets the tone for a successful season.
“You set the tone early by playing well,” he said. “Getting a win under your belt, and you’re 1 and 0, and you’ve got another team coming in to see you. Hopefully we can keep building on that. But if you lose that first game there’s always those doubts and whatnot. It was a huge win for us overall.”
Both quarterbacks in the game also had impressive performances, McNab said. The Cobras’ backup quarterback, Christian Golem threw his first touchdown pass as a Cobra, and Ethan Pickard, the Cobras starting QB, played a stellar game.
“I was very impressed by that young man,” McNab said of Pickard. “I mean, he’s under the gun, right? He’s following a group of quarterbacks that, you know I think the last four quarterbacks have signed in U Sports, and he’s following a great group of quarterbacks. I’ve got to give him total credit for what he did on Friday night for sure. He looked sharp. He made some errors, but he’s a kid that will correct those for sure.”
McNab said it was good to see the return of football in Cochrane, which drew a large crowd on Friday night. The audience, the players and McNab himself all seemed to be glad to see the teams back on the field.
“The fans, and just the atmosphere, it’s just so good to have the opportunity to get these kids back on the field and feeling special about themselves and feeling like they’re part of a team. It was fantastic. Everything about that game was just great. The weather, the hot dog smells, it was just fantastic to be out there again,” he said.