The North Peace Oscars some how made the play offs after loosing 4 striaght games. That makes it every year since the beginning of the team that we've made the playoffs and for the third striaght year we can't advance. This year was supposed to be different, this year we thought we had a good team and that we could compete with any team in our division. Yes, we had some bad games but when the players did what they were told and practiced hard we won convincingly.
With St Joe's win over PWA, the only thing we had to do was beat Valleyview and we could have HOSTED the finals. We had all the excuses; it was too cold, we were tired, we were injured, we had to practice in the snow, we had to travel. But Valleyview had those same excuses, they had snow, they had bigger injuries then use and the game was in Grande Prairie. The only difference between the Oscars and the Cougars was that we believed those excuses and they didn't.
It was the third time we faced Valleyview this year so we thought we knew them pretty good. We knew their audibles, we knew their keys and that seemed to help because this was a knock 'em down drag 'em out brawl. Not in the sense that there was alot of penalties (heaven forbid that an Alberta ref call anything in favour of a BC team) but more the sense that the players on both sides knew what was at stake. You win and you keep going, you loose and you're done.
The field was slick and icy up the middle but the outside seemed to be playable. This made for some pretty funny falls from both teams when change of direction was neccessary. The key to the whole game was to get to the outside and make a mad dash for the endzone. Our recievers seemed to forget their hands in the locker room as we only made one catch for a first down all game so that left us with the run which we were able to use successfully between the 20 yard lines but there seemed to be an extra layer of ice down by the goal posts. At the half it was only 7 nothing for Valleyview and our guys seemed to think they still had a chance because they came out in the second half on fire marching right down the field with Matt Sales best run of the year coming on an off tackle play that only went for 10 yards but it was the most inpressive 10 yard run I've seem since Larry Zonka. Before he reached the line of scrimmage, 2 Cougars bounced off him, going through the line he managed to bust through 3 more arm tackles and then proceeded to carry one guy until everybody on their team had a shot at him and then he finally went down under 5 guys. This is the type of running I wanted to see all year but because of injuries and playing both ways many of our grade 12's had a hard time putting together a complete game.
After seeing this run I thought we were going to do it. It seemed like our boys might have it in them after all but like all year long when the breaks are going against you it would take a miracle to change it. There was a miracle on the field alright but it was on Valleyviews side because if I'm not mistaken I could have sworn Vinny Testaverde was playing for them.
If you recall back to 1998 when Vinnie was playing for the Jets in a wild card playoff game he apparently scored a touchdown even though it clearly showed on the replay he was a yard short, the refs allowed it. Valleyviews second touchdown late in the forth started on the 8 yard line and was a QB roll to the right (infront of their own bench) when the QB threw the dump pass he was standing on the 5yard line, that means he was over the line of scrimmage. If that wasn't bad enough the reciever slid out of bounds at the 2 yard line. You may wonder how I was able to see all this from the other end of the field? Do I have hawk eyes? No. The ground was covered in snow and the lines where painted in orange, so I could see where the down box was (a little bit less than half way between the orange line on the 10 and the orange line on the 5 which the QB happened to be standing on when he threw the pass. The side line judge was so concerned about spotting the ball, he wasn't able to see the QB over the line. With a quick question from the Oscars coaches about "what did they see and where were they standing?" the head ref waved off the out of bounds and signaled a touchdown.
At this point I was completely beside myself so I looked to the Valleyview coaches for confirmation and all they could do was look back with a sheepish smile and shrug their shoulders. It wasn't the only call that left me sctatching my head. At the change of the fourth quarter Valleyview had the ball on their 52 yard line for 2nd and 8 to go but when the quarter changed the sticks didn't move giving them 2nd and 2 for a first. All the fans could see this and the Fort St John coaches tried to let the refs know but when it ain't going you're way......