Brett Barrett and Tanner Olstad are best friends and have played football together for six years, but never had they had a night like Friday.
The two connected on three touchdowns to lead the Hunting Hills Lightning past the Lacombe Rams 44-10 at Great Chief Park.
Barrett took over as starting quarterback at the beginning of the season while Olstad has spent much of the season as a third or fourth option in the offence.
But on Friday he looked like one of the most dangerous receivers in the Central Alberta High School Football League.
“That was good, all of the work that you’ve put in, it’s all coming together,” said Olstad, adding they’ve played together since their peewee football and throw together all summer.
Olstad caught three balls from Barrett on the night and all three went for scores of 11 yards, 29 yards and 52 yards. Coming into the game, Olstad had seven catches for 100 yards and no touchdowns this season.
“He was just getting open and he’s fast and finally getting the receptions he deserves to have for his ability,” said Barrett of Olstad.
For Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick, it gives him another critical option in the offence as the head into the final week of the season and then playoffs.
He said Olstad emerged because they got back to basics, focusing on the line of scrimmage and using the run to open up the passing game. This opened up the Grade 12 receiver throughout the first three quarters before Hunting Hills put in their Grade 10s.
“Tanner’s the quietest guy on the team, but he leads by example,” said Sedgwick. “He plays every play. He plays corner and wide out and runs 10,000 yards a game and he’s still fresh enough to break away on some of those long touchdowns. Now other teams have to at least put a cover guy on him so that will open up a few other things.”
Barrett finished 8-for-14 with four touchdowns and one interception.
The game was never really close.
It took the Lightning a couple of series to get on track but they pulled away quickly.
Linden Petersen opened the scoring for Hunting Hills at 3:37 of the first quarter, punching the ball in from two yards out.
Olstad scored his first major at 8:33 on and 11-yard rollout from Barrett who found him wide open in the end zone.
Lacombe did score on their next drive as quarterback Zachary Bailey found Matthew Gustafson running a skinny post for 52 yards at 10:46.
If anything, that snapped Hunting Hills out of their funk.
Petersen also had one receiving touchdown and Kayden Hall an 11-yard score on the ground for Hunting Hills.
Eder Arias kicked six converts and a single on a missed field goal for the Lightning while Braydon Moorman added another single with a punt into the end zone.
Jared St. Thomas also had a 17-yards field goal for Lacombe.
The Lightning finished with 258 yards rushing, led by Brandt Burzuk with 128 yards on 12 carries, while backup quarterback Eric Thompson finished with 54 yards on six rushes.
Cole Layden and Ian Miller had interceptions for the Lightning.
Most importantly for the Lightning, the win ended a two-game losing streak and gives them some positive momentum heading into the final week of the season with Notre Dame, who they will also face in the first round of the playoffs. Their game on Friday kicks off at 7 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
“When you watched our film from last week, Thurber played with raw emotion, and we played not to lose, not to win,” said Sedgwick. “That’s the kind of pressure that’s built up on these guys. There’s an expectation to win and sometimes the emotion is lost because you’re playing uptight and you’re playing nervous …
“If we can play loose, instead of focused, we’re a better team than what we showed last week for sure.”
NOTES — The H.J. Cody Lakers routed the Wetaskiwin Sabres 37-7 in their opening playoff game on Friday in Sylvan Lake. Kyle Eckenswiller had a 40-yard touchdown catch and 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead the Lakers, while Seth Blagen had an 89 yard touchdown catch, four converts and a single on a missed field goal. Jeremy Krause did all the scoring for Wetaskiwin with an 89-yard touchdown catch and a single off a missed field goal. Korey Prediger also had a 46 yard touchdown catch for H.J. Cody. Lakers quarterback Skylar Selk finished 5-for-17 for 201 yards with three touchdowns, while Landon Rosene was their top rusher with 102 yards on 12 rushes. Sabres quarterback Aaron Abrahamson was 6-for-14 for 132 yards and one touchdown, while Jeremey Krause had three catches for 99 yards.