“They showed some sign of life and resilience, determination to win,” said one of the coaching staff Ryan Hatch upon returning home. “As a preseason game for us, it definitely showed that no matter what a team can send at us, our guys are able to dig down. Some teams can go down and out, but our guys were so resilient and ready to win.”
The team headed south to play in the 8th Annual Kick Off Football Classic. They squared off against the Calipatria High School Hornets on Saturday afternoon. It was a big adjustment for the team. This was the first time they were playing in a “high school” stadium complete with artificial turf. They were also playing American rules, with four downs, 11 players, a smaller field, and the lines starting each play nose-to-nose.
“For our line not having that yard distance between the offensive and defensive lines, made for a much quicker game for them,” said Hatch. “From the beginning of the game, there were a lot of adjustments we had to make and I think the boys had some nerves going in which is expected, this was a big deal for them.”
The Titans came out a little shell-shocked and by the half, they were down by three touchdowns. In the second half, they began to chip at the American team.
“From the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter our defence absolutely shut down their offence. They could not move the ball,” said Hatch.
The turning point came when the Titans were able to hold off the Hornets at their two-yard line for a complete four downs.
From deep inside their own end, they began a drive that lasted nine minutes, and even forced the other team to call a time out for a breather. Dalton Smith ran in for a touch down.
“What an effort, these boys just dug deep,” said Hatch. “Something in the boys clicked. They knew they could do it and knew they weren’t outplayed. I think they were a little star struck at the beginning at how fast this team was.”
“At the end of the third, and beginning of the fourth, there was a different tone. They were saying ‘we can do this.’”
The trip wasn’t all football. The team was able to see some of the attractions including Sea World, Mission Beach, a San Diego Padres game and visited the USS Midway, the famous American aircraft carrier. This helped the team bond.
“As much as football is a game, there are a lot of life lessons learned from it. You take boys from all different social groups and put them together and they have to work together as a team. They learn a lot about their differences, strengths and weaknesses. It is a neat dynamic,” said Hatch.
There is little rest for the Titans as by Monday they were back on the field practicing and play an exhibition game this Friday in Lethbridge.