High school football finals set
LACOMBE — Possibly the weather had something to do with it, or possibly not, but what was expected to be an offensive showdown turned into a defensive battle between the Hunting Hills Lightning and Sylvan Lake Lakers in the Central Alberta High School Football League semifinal Saturday evening.
In the end the Lightning pulled out a 14-10 victory on a late touchdown and earned a berth in the league final against the Notre Dame Cougars Saturday at Great Chief Park.
The Cougars advanced with a 42-14 win over the Stettler Wildcats Friday.
The Lightning-Lakers game was slated for Friday at Great Chief Park, but was moved to Lacombe when the field couldn’t be lined.
Both coaches — Kyle Sedgwick of Hunting Hills and Jeremy Braitenback of Sylvan Lake — were pleased to have the artificial field turf available for the game.
“The change in venue worked out,” said Braitenback. “It was good footing . . . I don’t think the weather hurt that much, although it could have affected the passing game some.”
Neither team was overly sharp passing as Scott Pearson connected on seven of 19 passes for 82 yards for Hunting Hills and Chase Hoffman, just back from a thumb injury, hit on six of 19 for 67 yards and Tyler Ledwos two of three for 49 yards for the Lakers.
“I thought both defences played well,” said Braitenback. “We led until the final five minutes and once they took the lead we just couldn’t push across another score.”
The Lakers led 3-0 at the half on a 35-yard field goal by Morgan Drews with the Lightning taking a 7-3 lead in the third quarter on a 10-yard run by Jin Ahn and a Austin Belan convert. The Lakers regained the lead in the fourth quarter on a six-yard run by Shon Zenert and a Drews convert.
“They went for an on-side kick after they scored and recovered it, but our defence held,” said Sedgwick. “Then we were able to break Scott (Pearson) on a long run (43 yards) which gave us the ball on their six and we pushed it in.”
Tanner Whitelaw scored from the one and Belan converted.
“This game was a challenge for us and I thought some of the guys were a bit tight and had a mental block as they looked back at last year’s final when we lost to them,” said Sedgwick. “As well they have a great program and always take a step up at playoff time.”
The Lightning were also without running back Matt Russell, who has a “lower body injury.”
“That hurt, but they have some injuries as well and our young guys (Ahn and Whitelaw) stepped up and Pearson had a strong game running the ball.”
Pearson finished with 100 yards rushing on 13 carries while Ahn had 59 on eight. Tristan Wattenbarger had four catches for 58 yards.
Ledwos had 115 yards rushing on 10 carries and caught five passes for 62 yards for the Lakers. Zenert rushed 10 times for 95 yards.
The Lakers still have a tough game ahead of them as they face Stettler in the third-place game. The winner advances to the Tier III provincial playoffs. Hunting Hills will compete in Tier II and Notre Dame in Tier I. Rocky Mountain House, who meets Wetaskiwin for fifth-place, will compete in Tier IV.
The Sabres beat Camrose 47-17 in fifth-place semifinal.
Josh Jorstad and Josh Saddleback had two touchdowns each for the Sabres with singles added by Paul Fuller, Joel Bishop and Aaron Abrahamson. Michael Ioanidis and Ty De Hooy had Camrose touchdowns. Camrose will meet Lacombe for seventh place.