By Geoff Zilkalns
It was inevitable the day would come when the Eagles would lose a game. The Kelvin Clippers improved to 6-0 and retained first place in the AA Vidruk division when they battled to a 9-7 win on a blustery day at Harry McMaster Field. The loss was Dryden’s first since the 2015 semi finals, the 15 game winning streak was a historic run in the program’s 68 years. The group did not go down quietly as the Eagle defence gave the guests all they could, recording four sacks, intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles.
The story of the game was defence as the Clippers thoroughly stymied the Dryden attack throughout the contest. The Eagles mustered only 83 yards all day as neither running or passing yielded big plays, the Clippers being quicker and more aggressive than Dryden. Gus Brosseau broke the only big play when he smashed through the line for 24 yards in the 3rd Quarter to set up the lone Eagle touchdown.
Despite the challenges, Dryden actually led late in the game 7-3 and looked like they might steal a win. After a season of very few turnovers, it was a fumble with just over five minutes remaining in the Eagle half that led to the only Winnipeg major. The Eagles would get the ball twice more before the end of the match but be unable to move into field goal range.
The defensive leaders were once again instrumental in keeping the game close. Thomas Moline was huge from his safety position as he had eight tackles, sacked the QB on a blitz and got both Eagle interceptions. Joel Ottertail caused two fumbles and got to the QB twice himself, this matched Kadin Taylor’s two. Taylor now leads the division with 10 sacks on the year.
After the game the team was eager to get back to work for the challenges ahead, often more can be learned from a loss than a win. To start the season the question of what constituted a successful season given the move to AA was discussed. At 5-1 entering the final week, the tight loss to an unbeaten opponent who played AAA last fall hardly is cause for panic. The coaches and captains certainly expect a focused and committed push for the final month.
The regular season ends in Brandon Friday when the Eagles face the Vincent Massey Vikings who, at 4-2, are looking to slide into third place at the expense of Dryden. An Eagle win would reward the Blue and Gold with one more home tilt for the quarter-finals, a big advantage given the strong crowds and atmosphere.