Canadian Wins Region 1 Championship
Updated: December 5, 2016
photos: Alan Hale Photography
Thrilling Overtime win over Sonora 27-21
Canadian will hit the road next week to play in their third consecutive Semifinal against Gunter as a result of winning a wild overtime affair hammered out on Lowery Field at Plains Capital Park in Lubbock Friday night. Not even a cold thirty-six degree drizzling rain could distract from what was at stake.
Fans knew they were witnessing something special after the slugfest produced zero points on the scoreboard in the first quarter. The Sonora Broncos and Canadian Wildcats are both teams that have scored prolifically through the season, yet also field strong, effective defenses. The evenly matched teams produced what will be considered a classic in the annals of Class 3A playoff history, proving momentum is a viable, yet elusive element that can make the difference if seized when most needed.
Canadian won the second quarter 14-0 with a couple of runs by QB Corbin Douthitt (12-31, 169 yards, 1 INT) made possible by a shanked punt by Bronco QB Kaden Cordell giving the Wildcats the ball at their 41 yard line. That 59 yard drive ended with a 23 yard keeper by Douthitt for the TD, a play which would be repeated several times through the game and eventually burn the Broncos for the Wildcat win in overtime. The other Douthitt TD in the second period came 9 seconds before the end of the half on an option read with RB Chris Jones. Douthitt was able to freeze LB Jose Hernandez just long enough to slip by and find a seam to the end zone.
Sonora came out in the second half with the advantage of new adjustments, and the mental determination to take the game back. The explosive spread offense the Broncos went to work on Canadian’s tough defense by continuing to use Cordell’s dangerous scrambling and accurate passing to systematically rally beginning with a 10 yard pass to RB Jarrett Jackson with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
On the next Wildcat possession, Bronco DL Liam Yourgalite tipped a Douthitt pass to be intercepted by LB Michael Mungia, setting up Sonora’s offense on the Canadian’s 23 yard line. Six plays later, Cordell hit Jackson open in the flat for the TD from 9 yards out with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
The Broncos forced Canadian to punt with the score tied at 14-14 and began a legitimate championship drive from their own 8 yard line, going 92 yards in 11 plays that culminated in a 1 yard TD run by Cordell, picking up a low snap from the turf just in time to get away from three Wildcat defenders to find a small opening to cross the goal line. That go ahead TD brought Sonora back from a 14-0 deficit to a 21-14 lead with 6:17 left in the game.
Canadian was able to shake off the shocking rally Sonora had just displayed and started their next drive on their own 40 yard line and used a 26 yard pass from Douthitt to WR Cameron Copley, a 10 yard pass to WR Trae Dwyer-Krehbiel, and 18 hard-to- get yards on 3 runs by RB Chris Jones.
With a third down to go, Douthitt then ran a keeper up the middle to the Bronco 5 yard line, yet still 3 yards short of a first down. So the Wildcats with their season on the line, had Douthitt drop back on a fourth down and three to thrown a fast ball to RB Holton Hufstedler across the middle in the end zone with 3:24 left in the game tied at 21-21.
The shift in momentum carried over to the Canadian defense as they forced Sonora to a three-and-out, received the punt and in three plays were fourth down and six on the Bronco 35 yard line. A Douthitt pass to Copley that would have secured the first down was high and Sonora took over on downs.
Bronco QB Cordell was soon facing another fourth down and punted the ball away to see Canadian advance the ball to the 50 yard line with about 8 or 9 seconds left in the game. Douthitt lined up his crew and immediately threw a 17 yard pass to Hufstedler to the Bronco 32 yard line, however with only two seconds left and no timeouts, Douthitt could not get the ball spiked quick enough for another shot at the end zone and the game went to overtime.
Canadian won the toss and chose to defend the South goal, Sonora taking the ball on the 25 yard line. Cordell pitched to WR Noah San Miguel on the reverse and Miguel pitched back to Jackson on the double reverse call which was met at the line of scrimmage by the Wildcat defense for no gain. Then unexpectedly, the previously motivated, on-a- roll Bronco offense, saw the need to go South began to go North instead due to a 15 yard chop-block penalty during the second down incomplete pass from Cordell to San Miguel. The next play call would be a backward pass from Cordell to WR Michael Solis to look for his own receiver, needing 25 yards for the first down.
Canadian’s defense once again applied pressure and coverage downfield to force Solis out-of-bounds at the 35 yard line. But yet again, the Broncos are pushed back another 10 yards with a holding penalty. Cordell, needing 35 yards for a first down launched a long pass to Jackson just beyond the first down marker, but DB Manny Ramsey was there to defend and Jackson prevented the interception rather than making a catch. Fourth down and 35 at the 50 yard line and Cordell found WR Walker Sine on the 40, but the pass went through Sine’s hands to an awaiting Wildcat DB Kelton King for the interception.
Canadian immediately took possession at the 25 after King’s INT. With Jones lined up behind Douthitt, the lanky 6-3, 170 pound QB took the shotgun snap and called his own number on the read option and took the Wildcats first offensive play in overtime 25 yards diving into the end zone for the walk-off TD and his team to the Semifinals. As with any walk-off TD in an overtime, there was pandemonium from the Canadian bench onto the field, in the Canadian bleachers, all the way to the coach’s suite and Wildcat Football radio broadcast team in the press box.
Canadian Sports Network play-by- play announcer, Russell Gadbois conducted post-game interviews with coaches and players. When confronted about the cold, wet weather, RB Chris Jones (24 carriers, 103 yards) said, “…but the weather’s not an excuse. You just gotta come do it, just be mentally tough like the coaches say. We don’t want to be done right now, we want to go achieve our goals.”
Wildcat OL Tyler Richardson shared his emotions with Gadbois as he reflected on the TD by Douthitt to win in overtime: “I saw Corbin score and I just lost it, I lost it… those guys, we were saying, we love each other and whatever happens we’re still gonna love each other – no matter what.”
When asked about the play call, Richardson responded, “We all had one job, that was to block the line, and I got up on that linebacker and I saw Corbin pass me I knew he was in – from the moment he got past, I knew he was in, and I just lost it.
A rung out, spent Richardson was asked if he had two more [games] in him, “I’ve got two more left in me. I’m not going down without a fight. No way.”
Coach Hayden Merket seemed to be astounded at the effort the Wildcats gave to get back in the game after Sonora rallied with 21 unanswered points to take the lead. “I just know the way that you felt about that game, when they [Sonora] went from 14 nothing down, back to 21 ahead you just nearly - you didn’t feel hopeless but you felt – like - wow - it’s gonna take an unbelievable – it’s gonna take something… we were just struggling to find something at times. They were very well scouted, well coached. They had a great combination of line play and the quarterback was unbelievable. And that’s the thing, I think you look at that game and not only was it a great game, we beat a great team. I mean they were a tremendous football team. I will tell you, just get us on the field again. That’s all I’m blessed and thankful to say, just get us on the field again.”
Merket on QB Corbin Douthitt, the Canadian InterBank Player of the Game, “… every time that we really needed a play; he played the game of his life tonight, I was so proud of him.”
Head Coach Chris Koetting didn’t need to elaborate on the obvious, “I don’t know what to say other than these guys just, I mean… they find a way to win. There were a lot of momentum swings in that game where it looked like we had total control of the game and then it looked like they had total control of the game – and then just boom it was that fast and the game was over.”
Koetting also had good things to say about Sonora’s program, “We have a lot of respect for them. They were what we thought they were, they’re a really good team and we were very fortunate to beat ’em.”
Canadian (12-2) will be matched with the Gunter Tigers (14-0) in the Semifinal game scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff Friday, December 9, 2016 at Memorial Stadium, Wichita Falls, Texas. The Tigers will present the Wildcats with the challenge of defending an offense that has averaged 41.7 points in a current undefeated season. Gunter QB Trey Carr is a mobile, running quarterback that can skillfully run an effective triple option with the help of RB Colson Stovall, WR Braiden Clopton, or WR Dylan Jantz.
Canadian’s fast paced NASCAR offense will be up against a Tiger defense that has given up only 11.2 points in this season’s 14 games. Although Canadian has fielded a more prolific running game with QB Corbin Douthitt and RB Chris Jones RB Holton Hufstedler, Douthitt still has three of the best receivers in Region 1 to target with WR Cameron Copley, WR Manny Ramsey and Hufstedler for targets.
by Jerry Brunson
Lone Star Gridiron
|1st Q||2nd Q||3rd Q||4th Q||OT||Final|
Can – Corbin Douthitt 22 run (Douthitt PAT) 9:58
Can – Douthitt 5 run (Douthitt PAT) 0:05
Son – Jarrett Jackson 9 pass from Kaden Cordell (Brandon Martinez PAT) 5:47
Son – Jackson 10 pass from Cordell (Martinez PAT) 2:35
Son – Cordell 1 run (Martinez PAT)
Can - Holton Hufstedler 5 pass from Douthitt (Douthitt PAT) 3:24
Can – Douthitt 25 run
|C - A - I||13-33-1||18-33-1|
Canadian – Chris Jones 25-103, Corbin Douthitt 19-104, Holton Hufstedler 2-6
Sonora – Kaden Cordell 12-5, Jarrett Jackson 14-56, Liam Yourgalite 3-6
Canadian - Corbin Douthitt 13-33- 169
Sonora – 18-33- 234
Canadian – Manny Ramsey 4-59, Cameron Copley 4-55, Holton Hufstedler 4-53, Trae Dwyer-Krehbiel 1-5
Sonora – Noah San Miguel 3-27, Michael Solis 7-63, Liam Yourgalite 3-34, Jarrett Jackson 5-103