Lightning strike down Rams in regular season finale
The Hunting Hills Lightning didn’t know it at the time, but their 46-10 win over the Lacombe Rams was exactly what they needed to finish off their Central Alberta High School Football League regular season.
The victory Thursday night, coupled with the Notre Dame Cougars upset 18-9 win over the Lindsay Thurber Raiders, gave the Lightning first place in their conference.
Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick didn’t know until three hours after his team left the field what the final standings would be.
He talked about finishing second, although he didn’t rule out first place.
“It was important for us to set the tone against them (Rams) as we could well meet them again in a couple of weeks with us in second and with them in third . . . then again we’re not out of first place yet.”
The important thing was that the Lightning, 3-1, coming off their first loss in regular season in four years, turned in a solid performance.
“This was a big game for us to rebound off a loss (to the Raiders),” said Sedgwick. “Our losses of late have been in our final game of the season and then we have all year to come back. But this was big. A bit sloppy in the first half as we took eight penalties to their two (actually one). The second half they ran into some penalty trouble.”
While the Lightning were the better team, they still had some problems on defence handling Lacombe running back Josh Prevost, who finished with 168 yards on 20 carries.
“Our problem is we’re a bit undersized at linebacker,” said Sedgwick. “And our guys were to busy trying to strip the ball, rather than making the tackle, and we can tackle.”
The Lightning led 14-0 after the first quarter and 24-0 at the half.
Ashton Hall played a major role in the team’s offence as he returned a punt 33 yards for a touchdown and also grabbed passes of 11, 70 and 46 yards from quarterback Jarrett Burzuk for touchdowns.
“We have a lot of fast kids on our team and we were able to get into open space and get things done,” said Hall, who finished with five catches for 142 yards.
Hall, a three-year veteran who was part of the Lightning championship run the last two seasons, felt the loss to the Raiders didn’t hurt.
“In the long run it may have been good for us,” he said. “Then next time we play them, if it’s in the championship, we‘ll play with more urgency and passion. I think our experience will help us if we do make the final.”
Matt Russell also scored on a 54-yard punt return for the Lightning.
“We practice special teams when we walk through before the game, but today we came to play,” said Hall.
“Our special teams were 1,000 times better today than last week,” said Sedgwick. “In fact I liked a lot of things we did, although we still have to clean up our penalties.”
Brandt Burzuk scored the other Hunting Hills touchdown, on a one-yard run with 19.4 seconds left in the game. Skylar Roth added six converts, a single on a kickoff and a 22-yard field goal.
Quarterback Judah Knip scored the Rams major on a four-yard run midway through the final quarter while Lachlan Jacobs had a convert and a 33 yard field goal.
Russel led the Lightning with 119 yards rushing on 11 carries while Cole Layden had 62 yards on three carries, all in the fourth quarter. Burzuk hit on five of 10 passes for 155 yards while Knip hit on eight of 15 for 196 yards. Ashton Jones had four catches for 99 yards and SaDair Nobel grabbed three for 93 yards.
The Lightning now host the Wetaskiwin Sabres in the first round of the playoffs netx week while the Rams will either meet Camrose or Stettler.
l In non-conference play Wednesday the homestanding Stettler Wildcats downed the Sylvan Lake Lakers 11-0.
Stephen Zuk had a touchdown for the Wildcats with Frank Van Ommeren kicking a convert and a field goal and Josh Barrie a single.
Jeremy Kirk rushed for 40 yards on three carries and grabbed two passes for 47 yards for the ‘Cats.