Raiders start season with win
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off their 2012 high school football season.
Not only did the coaching staff get an opportunity work on their offence, but they played everyone and to put the cap on the evening recorded a 30-6 victory over the Wetaskiwin Sabres in Central Alberta High School Football League exhibition play before close to 300 fans at Great Chief Park Thursday.
“We knew what we wanted to do and the benefit of having these cross-over games, that don’t count in the standings, we got a chance to get all the kids in the game, plus work on fine tuning a few things,” said Raiders head coach Dave Smith. “This was a great game to start things off. This was our first game, as we didn’t play any exhibition games, and so we were a bit slow coming out of the gate, but we improved as the game wore on. It also gives us a chance to see it on tape so we can work on a few more things in practice.”
One of the impressive aspects of the Raiders offence was the play of running back Todd Tulman, who had 210 yards rushing on 12 carries and scored touchdowns on runs of 39 and 12 yards. All that before being slightly injured in the third quarter.
The only negative for Tulman was a lost fumble on his third carry of the game, which only seemed to inspire him more.
“He runs hard and as he warms up he’s even that much better,” said Smith, who also liked what he saw from Grade 10 quarterback Braydon Moorman, who connected on five of eight passes for 57 yards and had two other long balls dropped.
“Braydon was impressive,” agreed Smith. “He threw the ball extremely well for it being his first game at this level.”
The Raiders finished with 248 yards rushing while limiting the Sabres to 24 yards on the ground and 99 in the air.
“I thought they (Sabres) played hard, although they’re a bit shorthanded,” said Smith.
The Sabres had only 28 players dressed.
“Our numbers are certainly a concern,” said Sabres head coach Kevin Gibson. “Plus we’re lacking a bit of experience.”
But despite the score Gibson was pleased with his team’s effort.
“It was a close game until the second half and you also have to give Lindsay Thurber credit They played hard and their running back (Tulman) ran extremely hard. He made some big plays although our tackling was a bit sloppy. That’s something we’ll work on.”
Gibson also felt their blocking needs to improve.
“Once they started blitzing it didn’t give our quarterbacks much time as we’re young and inexperienced on the line.”
The Sabres do have experience at the pivot with third-year Josh Saddleback. Impressive Grade 10 Aaron Abrahamson is his backup and also plays wide out. He grabbed two passes for 24 yards.
The Sabres play in a pool with Stettler, Camrose, Rocky Mountain House and Ponoka this season.
“It’s great to have 10 teams and we’ll certainly have a great rivalry with Ponoka,” said Gibson, who opens their regular season Sept. 14 at home against Stettler, who beat Lacombe 17-0 in exhibition play Thursday.
Spencer Yeats and Bryce Maki scored the other LTCHS touchdowns while Owen Smith kicked three converts and a field goal. Josh Jorstad scored the Wetaskiwin major on an 80-yard kickoff return, which tied the score 6-6 at the time. The Raiders led 9-6 at the half.
In Stettler, Tyler Stewart and Parker Cassidy scored touchdowns for the Stettler Wildcats while Clayton Steen added a two-point convert and Elliot Mabot kicked a convert. Their other points came on a safety.
Exhibition play continues tonight with Notre Dame at Camrose and Rocky at Sylvan Lake at 4:30 p.m.
The Raiders open regular season play Sept. 14 in Lacombe.