Hinton had a bumpy introduction to the 2019 Alberta Six Man Football League season as Vegreville took the opening play for a touchdown.
But the Wolfpak shook it off and bounced back on the strength of a strong defence and a balance offence for a 45-28 road win to open their season.
“Never a good start … they ran the length of the field and scored,” said head coach Chris Johnstone.
“The guys showed a lot of character, they rebounded well. It’s always great to start the season with a win.”
The Wolfpak saw some turnover from last season’s team, and have only four Grade 12s on the roster, including Aidan Cracknell, Jared Poppe, Ethan Bambrick and quarterback Solomon Underwood.
Johnstone has been impressed with the leadership the seniors have shown and that Underwood has been a real standout so far.
“He’s really taken to the leadership role on and off the field,” said Johnstone, adding that the Wolfpak have relatively few Grade 12 players on the roster compared to other teams.
“He moved the ball well (against Vegreville). I thought we had a great mix on offence, running and passing.”
That balance was epitomized by Nate Boese, says Johnstone, in getting four touchdowns running and receiving.
Dustin Poirier had a pair of touchdowns as well, including an epic kickoff return to open the second half.
“At that point it was still a close enough game so that was huge for us,” Johnstone said.
And while the offence was putting up points by land and by air, the defence kept Vegreville in check.
There were a number of play makers on that side of the ball, including Riley Mills, who was moved from safety to outside linebacker.
“He stepped up and made a difference, made a lot of big tackles. It was just a really good team effort on defence,” Johnstone said.
The Wolfpak host the Camrose Trojans for the home opener Sept. 19 at the Harry Collinge field. Kick off is at 4:30 pm. Camrose opened its season Sept. 4 with a 14-0 shutout loss to the Caroline Cougars.
“I haven’t seen any film on them yet, but I know they were a tough team last year and that’s what I am going on. We split our two games against them last season,” Johnstone said.
Hinton also hosts Edson, which has opened the season 2-0 with wins over Vegreville and Provost, on Sept. 26 at 4:30 pm.