Spartans’ defence comes up short in semifinal

By Rhonda Cooper

The Carpenter High School Spartans’ season is over after falling 40-35 to the Melfort Comets on Saturday.

The Spartans got off to an excellent start in the SHSAA nine-man provincial semifinal football action, taking the ball to the house on a pass from Chase Paylor to Ronnie Goretzki on their opening drive.

“We knew they were looking for us to capitalize on the run so we decided to go through the air and it paid off for us,” said coach Craig Paylor.

The Comets immediately responded with a converted touchdown of their own to knot the score at 7-7.

“On our next possession we had a fumble which they capitalized on,” added Paylor. “They missed the convert to take a 13-7 lead.”

The fumble killed the Spartans’ momentum and allowed the Comets to build a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“Our defensive came out a bit flat,” said Paylor. “I don’t know if it was nerves or what.”

Meadow Lake opened up the second quarter by returning to the running game. Scott McKay scampered close to 25 yards to cross the goal-line and bring the team within one touchdown.

In an effort to maintain their drive, the Spartans implemented a short kick, which they successfully recovered the ball.

Two plays later, Meadow Lake scored again, taking a slim 21-19 lead.

Right before the half, the ball once again went to McKay who hot-footed it 60 yards to give Meadow Lake its largest point spread of 28-19 at the end of the first half.

In the third quarter Melfort was the first to penetrate the end zone adding a two point convert to cut the Spartans’ lead to 28-27. Carpenter responded to go back up 35-27, but with four minutes remaining in the game, Melfort scored, but missed an attempted two-point convert, closing the gap to 35-33.

Meadow Lake got the ball back but the Comets made a defensive stand, forcing the Spartans to punt.

“They got the ball back around the midfield mark and then here comes the tough part,” said coach Paylor. “They converted three third down gambles, including a third and goal, to win the game with 10 seconds remaining on the clock.”

Paylor said the team had opportunities and essentially the Spartans were one play away from making it to their first-ever championship game.

“We needed to make a stop on one of those third down gambles. Melfort is a good quality team and they made some gutsy play calls. But our boys deserved a better fate than what they got. I told them that every team across the province will feel this sense of disappointment. The only one who won’t will be the eventual winners.”

Despite the loss, Paylor is proud of how the kids turned the season around.

“Going into playoffs we didn’t really look like a team that was ready, but they worked hard and they turned into a quality team.”

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