Lightning 28 Cougars 7
The Hunting Hills Lightning were electric through the air and via the overland route Thursday night at Great Chief Park.
The two-pronged attack resulted in a 28-7 victory over the Notre Dame Cougars before 556 fans and created a three-way tie for top spot in the Tier 1/2 Division of the Central Alberta High School Football League.
“We just played well. Our defence was firing off the ball and our offence was finally clicking like we knew we can,” said Lightning quarterback Brett Barrett, who completed 10 of 14 passes for 204 yards before being replaced by Eric Thomson in the final minute of the third quarter.
Earlier in the day, the Lindsay Thurber Raiders rolled up nearly 400 yards of offence in a 34-6 rout of the visiting Lacombe Rams.
The Lightning scored on their first possession and never looked back. Barrett teamed up with Braydon Moorman on a 51-yard pass-and-run play that set up a two-yard quarterback sneak for the early lead.
Barrett hit Kaden Hall with a 35-yard scoring toss five minutes into the second quarter and then hooked up with Linden Petersen on a 42-yard passing play to give Hunting Hills a comfortable 21-0 lead at the half.
“Our offensive line is awesome. I think they’re one of the top units in the league,” said Barrett. “They gave me time all game to drop back and find the open receiver.”
Thomson was zero-for-four passing but gave the Lightning a 28-0 lead when he scooted 10 yards around the left end for a major two minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars mounted a late march and finally got on the board on Justin Fedun’s two-yard touchdown run with 24 seconds remaining. Eric Meraw converted the major.
Moorman converted all four Hunting Hills touchdowns and hauled in five passes for 113 yards. Brandt Burzuk caught four balls for 56 yards, Petersen grabbed three passes for 49 yards and Hall had two receptions for 51 yards.
“We have tons of receivers who can make plays, tons of great athletes who are tall and fast. It’s perfect,” said Barrett.
Burzuk was also a major weapon on the ground, running for 139 on eight carries. Johannes Smith led all Notre Dame rushers with 69 yards on 20 carries and Fedun accumulated 56 yards on seven trips.
Cougars quarterback Keegan McDonald completed three passes to Jesse Kowalchuk, while Dagbarani caught two balls for 35 yards. Devin Desormeau was behind the controls in the fourth quarter and was good on two of four passes.
“They (Lightning) were poised and we weren’t very good,” said Cougars head coach Gino Castellan. “We haven’t improved since last week and they have improved quite a bit since their last game. They looked sharp. We just didn’t come to play and we have to make some adjustments.”
The Lightning improved to 2-1, a record shared by Notre Dame and Lindsay Thurber. Hunting Hills opened the season with a narrow loss to the Raiders, then rolled over Lacombe last week before turning in their best performance of the season Thursday.
“The first game we didn’t feel like we played like ourselves,” said Barrett. “We were kind of nervous, for a lot of the guys that was their first time starting. Tonight we kind of got back to what we do and we really wanted to make a statement.”
The Lightning will return to action Sept. 26 at Great Chief Park for an exhibition game against the Cochrane Cougars.
“It will give us a chance to get all our young kids in the game and try and few different things,” said Castellan.
The Lightning will take on visiting Grande Prairie St. Joe’s in another exhibition contest 24 hours later.
Raiders 34 Rams 6
Lindsay Thurber head coach Dave Smith was hoping his squad would re-establish its identity Thursday.
The Raiders passed for 191 yards and matched that total on the ground en route to a one-sided win over the Rams at Great Chief Park. The win helped ease the sting of a 22-20 loss to Notre Dame six days earlier.
“We kind of had a bit of a gut check and challenged our defence to come out and play better and they sure did,” said Smith. “They set the tone at the beginning and gave us some breathing room and then our offence started to click.
“It’s always a good game against Lacombe and we were just looking to get back and find who we are again. We played physical and created havoc on defence.”
T.K. Kunaka scored two touchdowns for the Raiders, including one on a punt return. David Dunbar and quarterback Ben Pasiuk accounted for the other Lindsay Thurber majors, while the Raiders got a safety, a field goal from Kolbi Street, a single off a missed field goal and two converts from Dunbar.
Pasiuk was good on nine of 15 passes, hitting Kunaka three times for 75 yards and completing two to Dunbar for 87 yards. Pasiuk was also the game’s top rusher with 87 yards.
The Rams’ lone points came on a late 70-yard punt return by David Mueller. A two-point convert attempt failed.
Mueller and Zachary Bailey combined to pass for 40 yards. The visitors managed 54 yards rushing.