By Britton Ledingham, Airdrie Echo
The Airdrie Irish found out what it’s like to be on the winning side of the ball in front of a home crowd last weekend.
The Irish defeated the Lloydminster Vandals 41-13 the Airdrie team’s first win in Alberta Football League (AFL) action at Ed Eggerer Field on July 18.
Wide receiver gone quarterback Chad Murray received the game ball for being chosen as player of the game.
“The guys up front were just incredible,” said Murray. “They made it easy for me… I don’t think once all game I had any pressure.”
Murray said it has been a decade since he was last calling plays, but when QB John Boulton went down with a hip injury at the end of the first half in Fort McMurray the weekend before, he had already volunteered to be back up.
“It was kind of my worst nightmare,” said Murray, 30.
Boulton was still recovering in hospital as of July 18.
Murray played the last two seasons in the AFL with the league-winning Calgary Wolfpack (2014) and the Central Alberta Buccaneers (2013).
Murray said the 100-0 loss to Fort McMurray galvanized the team to make a 180-degree turn and have everything go in their favour the next week.
“We were able to grab momentum early and never let it go,” he said, noting they were up 20-7 at half-time.
Murray vouches that he is more valuable to the team as a receiver, but realizes he may continue to see the field as a QB.
Running back Matt Huntley was recognized as offensive player of the game against the Vandals with three touchdowns.
“He was like a bowling ball,” said receivers coach Scott Sargent.
Wide receiver Steve Larsen received for one touchdown.
Special teams player of the game wide receiver Alex Saretsky scored a TD on a punt return and received for another TD.
Defensive Player of the Game was awarded to rookie defensive back Cody Koevoets.
Murray said Koevoets had two picks and huge returns for about 50 yards each.
“It was awesome,” said Murray.
The Irish have two weeks off before playing the Wolfpack, Aug. 8, at 2 p.m. in Shouldice Park in Calgary.
“It’s definitely going to be a bit of a rivalry there,” said former Wolfpack player, Murray. “I feel like we should win.”
The Irish will finish the season at home on Aug. 15 at 3 p.m. versus the Central Alberta Buccaneers, with both clubs fundraising for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
“If we win those two games, we make the playoffs,” said Murray. “I think we can do it.”