Defence was the difference in Notre Dame win
Notre Dame Cougars head coach Gino Castellan admitted he was a little worried heading into his Central Alberta High School Football League meeting with the Lindsay Thurber Raiders.
“We did not have a good week of practice and my pregame speech was that we were in trouble,” said Castellan.
“I firmly believe that we play the way we practice and it showed. We didn’t start until the second half and you can’t have that. We were lucky.”
But the Cougars defence showed up long before their offence came around and that was a difference in the game as the Cougars eventually rolled to a 30-14 victory at Great Chief Park Thursday.
“Our defence did play well, but our offence is better than that,” added Castellan.
“We have to come to play. Our mental toughness just isn’t there. Physically and skill-wise we’re OK, but the mental aspect isn’t there and they don’t understand that yet. Hopefully they do by the end of the year.”
The teams were tied 7-7 at the half as Todd Tulman scored on a six-yard run at 9:08 of the first quarter for LTCHS and Myles Corsiatto went in from the three at 8:57 of the second quarter for the Cougars.
Owen Smith kicked the first of his two converts for the Raiders and Luis Moreno nailed the first of his four converts for Notre Dame.
The Cougars took the lead for good at 3:40 of the third quarter when quarterback Kieran Pruden connected on a 17-yard scoring strike to Dustin Schaber.
Then came possibly the defensive play of the game when Darrian Banack dove in front of a LTCHS receive and intercepted the ball on the Notre Dame two-yard line.
“That was a big play,” admitted Castellan. “Then we were able to march the ball out of trouble, which helped.”
That was as close as the Raiders got to the end zone until the final play of the game when Spencer Yeats recovered a fumble and went 41 yards for the score.
In between the Cougars scored twice as Pruden connected on a 41-yard pass and run play with Brady Podlosky and Jordan Briault returned a kickoff 76 yards. They also got a safety when Dusty Fowler tackled LTCHS quarterback Braydon Moorman in the end zone.
Pruden connected on just five of 22 passes for 72 yards and Moorman was good on five of 12 for 67 yards.
“Kieran had a lot of guys open, but I’d rather have him have a game like this now than in a big game,” said Castellan, who gave credit to the Raiders defence.
“Dave (head coach Dave Smith) and his staff deserve a lot of credit, they played hard . . . that was a tough, hard-hitting game. We learned a lot today, but we also did a lot of things that are uncharacteristic for our ball club. We’re a better team than that.”
Smith obviously would have liked a victory, but he saw a lot of positives.
“Our goal is to play better every time out and we did that,” he said. “I thought our defence was the best it’s been all season. We did a good job against a very good football team. They have a lot of weapons and do a lot of different things with a lot of different looks. I thought our defence reacted to everything they showed us and every set they showed we forced them out of it.”
On the other hand the Raiders didn’t show much diversity on offence.
“That’s a lack of experience which also hurts in a lack of ability to change on the fly,” said Smith. “But we played a strong first half, now we have to learn to play a full game.”
The win gives the Cougars a 2-0-1 record with their final conference game Oct. 12 against the Rams in Lacombe. The Raiders finished conference play at 0-4-0 and face the West Central Rebels Oct. 12 in Rocky in a non-conference contest.
Corsiatto led the Cougars with 201 yards rushing on 29 carries while Tulman had 46 yards on 19 carries for LTCHS. Yeats grabbed three passes for 66 yards for the Raiders.