Despite a promising first half and a strong performance from their defence, the Estevan Comprehensive School Elecs fell 26-3 to the A.E. Peacock Tornadoes in their home opener on Friday.
The Elecs (1-2) failed to score a major for the second straight game, something that surprised head coach Marco Ricci.
“All week in practice, our offence was clicking, so we were pretty confident we could move the ball,” he said.
“We had some guys open where we dropped balls or didn’t make the proper reads. With the running game, our O-line struggled trying to open up holes for (tailback Dustin) MacCuish.”
The Elecs got off to a strong start, getting some big plays from their defensive line and special teams unit and moving the chains effectively at times.
The Tornadoes (2-1) opened the scoring with a rushing touchdown from two yards out on third down, following two big stops by the Elecs.
Later in the first quarter, Peacock quarterback Zach Huschi was on the verge of a big second-down gain before being brought down from behind by Elecs lineman Cole MacCuish, holding the visitors to a field goal.
The Elecs had the wind in the first half and punter Kyle Hovind made the most of it with two massive boots, one of them eventually forcing a safety and the other going for a single.
Estevan also got a blocked punt from Isaac Elder early in the second quarter but failed to take advantage of their field position.
“Our special teams, for the most part, have been pretty solid all year. We have a really good punter in Kyle Hovind and if we utilize him right, he can get us good field position,” said Ricci.
Despite the team’s offence not putting any points on the board, quarterback Kolby Fleury completed several pinpoint passes in the second quarter and looked to be building some momentum, but that didn’t translate to the second half as he threw three interceptions.
“Kolby’s going to be a great quarterback. This is his first big test of throwing the ball and getting all the experience he can, and we’re willing to grow with him,” said Ricci.
“I thought he did some really good things. He showed he has a really strong arm and can get the ball out there. It’s just a matter of us trying to make it easier for him to get the ball out.”
Peacock began to pull away in the second half, beginning with a spectacular sweep in the third quarter that set up a short completion for a touchdown.
The Elecs gave up a safety with about 10 minutes left in regulation and the Tornadoes added another rushing major in the final minute.
Estevan came closest to the end zone in the final moments of the fourth quarter, with two big gains by MacCuish getting the Elecs to the 14-yard line. They then took a holding penalty and would turn it over on downs.
Ricci felt he and the rest of the coaching staff could have made better adjustments at halftime.
“I’d like to pin this a little bit on us as coaches. We need to do a better job. I feel like I could have done some different things. “
He said winning 1-on-1 battles is the biggest thing the Elecs need to work on during their bye week.
“That’s our biggest issue, being physical and making sure you win that battle. We’re not doing that right now and it’s causing us huge grief in the running game and defending the pass.”
The Elecs’ next action is against the Central Cyclones on Oct. 1 in Moose Jaw. Ricci said the Cyclones have a potent passing game and will be a “huge test.”
“I might have fooled myself, thinking we were one of the upper-level teams. We’re not,” he added. “It’s not that we can’t get there, but right now we’re definitely not at the same level as the three Moose Jaw teams.”