Lightning downed in provincial semis
The score didn’t show it, but the Hunting Hills Lightning were no pushovers as they faced the top-ranked Lethbridge Catholic Central Cougars in provincial tier II football semifinal play in Lethbridge Saturday.
The Lightning trailed 16-10 at half time and 23-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Cougars took advantage of the wind in the final 12 minutes to pull out a 46-20 victory and advance into the provincial final against Austin O’Brien in Edmonton Saturday.
“The wind picked up late in the third quarter and we were against the wind and the sun in the fourth,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick. “We scored a field goal and a touchdown late in the third quarter and I thought we had the momentum, but that changed with the wind.”
The Cougars scored early in the fourth quarter, then used a pair of interceptions off tipped balls and a strong running game to control play.
“They have an excellent ground game and controlled the ball for long periods of time and didn’t give our offence much of a chance to get on the field,” said Sedgwick. “And when we did get the ball late we were usually deep in our zone.
“Also they run a fly offence and our guys were taking a step in and letting them get outside on us,” said Sedgwick. “It’s something we didn’t do all season, but then they also had two strong running back inside, so it was tough.”
Austin Belan had a pair of field goals and converted touchdowns by Matt Russell and Ashton Hall. Hall’s major came on a trick play when quarterback Scott Pearson threw the ball to Branden Peterson, who in turn tossed it to Hall.
The Lightning were making their first-ever appearance in the provincial semifinals.
“Still everyone was disappointed not to go on, especially the Grade 12s,” said Sedgwick, whose squad lost only once all season. “We were right there, so it’s disappointing, but it was a great season. At the start of the season not many were picking us to win the league title.”
Pearson is one of the key players to graduate.
“We also lose some of our linemen, but we have a lot of players in the skilled positions back next year,” said Sedgwick. “We weren’t intimated against the Cougars, who have around 20 Grade 12s. It’s good as we move on.”
Austin O’Brien downed Edmonton’s Harry Ainlay 48-0.
In tier I play, top-ranked Spruce Grove beat Bev Facey of Sherwood Park 53-34 and No. 2-ranked Notre Dame of Calgary downed Lethbridge Collegiate Institute 47-15.
In tier III semifinal play the St. Albert Skyhawks downed the St. Paul Lions 52-10 and the Cochrane Cobras defeated the Lethbridge Winston Churchill Bulldogs 35-7.
The top-ranked Drumheller Titans defeated the Willow Creek Cobras of Claresholm 47-7 and second-ranked Ardrossan Bisons downed the Cold Lake Royals 49-33 in tier IV play.
l Central Alberta won a pair of provincial titles in peewee action as the Lacombe Explosion downed the Parkland Predators 30-22 in tier III action and the Stettler Panthers dropped the St. Albert Colts 55-22 in tier IV play.