The Falcons are Alberta Bowl bound with a shot at history.
Riding a tremendous 35-point first half performance, the Foothills Falcons overpowered the L.C.I. Rams 42-24 on Saturday afternoon at Shouldice Park to get back to the Football Alberta provincial final for the first time in five seasons and first time at the Tier I (Larry Wilson) level.
“It’s been that constant all year where we want that breakout from the offence,” said Falcons head coach Nathan St. Dennis. “We’ve relied on the defence and that’s all we’ve heard, all of the time, even the Football Alberta press release was talking about the defence.
“If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is and it was great to see our guys show up. We know we’ve got some great kids and great athletes and it’s just a matter of executing. It’s great to see, but we’re not done, that’s for sure.”
Foothills made sure its season would not be done with an almost perfect first half.
Thanasi Antonpoulos, who had a half dozen highlight reel catches, opened the scoring on a 15-yard reception before the Rams countered with a major on their first drive.
Falcons quarterback Emerson Liepert restored the advantage in short order with a goalline run.
“Everything was clicking,” said Liepert. “Offence, we were moving the ball better than we have all year, we executed.
“We came in not underestimating them at all, we know they can put up a dogfight.”
Falcons two-way ace Caleb Baker then made his major imprint on the contest.
First, the sure-handed receiver returned a punt 80 yards to the house.
Then on defence, Baker cooked up a touchdown saving tackle and forced and recovered a fumble deep in the Falcons half.
“Baker is a coach’s dream, he’s quiet, does his job, works extremely hard,” St. Dennis said. “I’m not surprised at all. I’m lucky enough to have coached him, and a bunch of these kids, since they were in Atom.
“He’s the same when he was eight as he is right now.”
To close the half, Liepert found Jamison Kloster for a 15-yard touchdown and then connected with Baker for a 49 yard major with three seconds on the clock as Foothills went into the half with a 26-point advantage.
“We pushed, we kept going and it’s just from our coaches with great plays going everywhere, we had a great week of practice leading up to here,” Baker said. “The motivation was high for this game and the offence in this game really pushed it forward.”
Foothills added its sixth touchdown in the fourth quarter when hard-nosed runningback Derek Boisvert punched in a goalline run as the Falcons’ balance of run and pass paid huge dividends.
The teams met in early-October with the Rams taking a 14-9 result at Falcons Field.
“We owed them,” Liepert said. “They came to Okotoks and beat us, danced around on our field.
“We didn’t like that at all, so we wanted to come back and give them a butt whooping.”
Foothills’ trip to the Alberta Bowl is its first since 2017, the last in a trifecta of consecutive championships at the Tier II level for the Falcons.
The Falcons will play the Salisbury Sabres for the title, a 2:30 p.m. kickoff on Nov. 25 at Red Deer’s Great Chief Park.
“It’s a first time for Tier I and what a great story, so let’s keep going with it, we’re trying to get that ring,” said Baker.
“We’ve had these Grade 10s, 11s, 12s all lead up to this, there’s like 40 of us, everyone has been learning together and getting better together and the team chemistry is on a high right now.”