Photo by JOSH ALDRICH/Advocate staff -- for Josh's story -- Hunting HIlls Lightning;s Zech Pilgrim scores a try as he is tackled by Notre Dame Cougars Taylor Vida during Central Alberta High School Rugby action at Titans Park on Wednesday

Photo by JOSH ALDRICH/Advocate staff -- for Josh's story -- Hunting HIlls Lightning;s Zech Pilgrim scores a try as he is tackled by Notre Dame Cougars Taylor Vida during Central Alberta High School Rugby action at Titans Park on Wednesday

Lightning boys rugby team hoping to put things together for playoffs

The Hunting Hills Lightning senior boys rugby team has had a Jekyll and Hyde season, but as the playoffs come around the corner they are hoping for more of the good to shine through. Their 69-15 loss to the Notre Dame Cougars (3-0) on Wednesday at Titans Park, encapsulated their season.

The Hunting Hills Lightning senior boys rugby team has had a Jekyll and Hyde season, but as the playoffs come around the corner they are hoping for more of the good to shine through.

Their 69-15 loss to the Notre Dame Cougars (3-0) on Wednesday at Titans Park, encapsulated their season.

The Lightning (0-2) had beat the Cougars 20-5 earlier in the year in an exhibition game, but in the rematch they were missing several top players.

It has been a season long battle.

“I think we were maybe a little cocky that it would be easy this time — but we had our full squad, we had everyone out there (the first time),” said Lightning coach Aaron Sewards.

“It was payback time, for sure.”

The Lightning have also been dealt a couple of momentum killing blows like having their previous league game snowed out and are coming off a heart breaking, one-point loss to Cold Lake in a tournament in Drayton Valley.

The biggest thing they are hanging their hat on from the game on Wednesday is their resiliency, as they kept playing hard until the final whistle.

“At the end of the game they were still fighting and clawing,” said Sewards.

“We were down by 60 points but it didn’t matter, they were still fighting to get into that end zone.”

There is much to like about the roster they can field, if everyone is available. They do have a lot of talent with the likes of the Howse twins — Blaine and Shaun — Clay Willie and Grade 11 co-captain Zech Pilgrim, who play on Team Alberta’s U-18 squad.

“Last year (Pilgrim) was invited out to the U-18 Team Canada tryouts, he’s our playmaker, our quarterback, our general,” said Sewards. “Sometimes he tries to do a little bit too much, but he’s our heart.

Their biggest strength is with their backs while their forwards have a lot of inexperience.

“Our backs have been playing together since they were about 14 so they can read each other and they know where to go,” said Sewards.

One of their biggest challenges this year is their youth, with only one Grade 12 player — co-captain Keaton Lachance — on their roster.

But that also means their is some big potential on the horizon, including their eighthman, six-foot-five Caleb Neilsen.

“This is his first time playing rugby, he’s a basketball player and he’s loving it and getting better every game, every practice,” said Sewards. “He wants the ball and that’s impressive because we didn’t know how he’d take contact because rugby is a little different than basketball. He’s itching to play and he wants to play over summer and he wants to play next year.

“Next year should be very exciting, all of our boys will move up a grade and put on about 20 pounds and a couple of inches, they won’t look tiny any more.”

Despite their troubles and an 0-2 record with playoffs beginning on May 25, they believe they stand a puncher’s chance at making it to the league final. They have two regular season games left and think they should be able to get back to .500. Regardless they will play the second place team from Red Deer in the first round of the tier I playoffs.

If they win that game then they will be playing for a chance to go to provincials.

“We need to get that commitment from everybody — when we have our full team and everyone is in the right spot, the machine runs great,” said Sewards. “Right now we have people playing out of place, they’re not used to it, so they’re a little shy, a little hesitant.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

Chopped Canada-winning chef Pete Sok is trying to focus on the future as he reopens Boulevard Restaurant and Lounge in the Holiday Inn on Gasoline Alley during the pandemic. (Contributed photo)
Red Deer’s celebrity chef looks past the pandemic with new restaurant opportunity

Pete Sok is reopening Boulevard Restaurant — and betting on the future

The Red Deer Rebels hosted the Medicine Hat Tigers in the first game of the shortened 2020-21 season on Friday. The two teams faced off again in Medicine Hat Saturday (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels fall to Medicine Hat Tigers on Saturday

Tigers 7 Rebels 2 The Red Deer Rebels have lost two straight… Continue reading

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta Premier slams vandalism after slur painted on MLA’s office window

EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is condemning alleged vandalism at the… Continue reading

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Machin waits to appear at the Standing Committee on Finance on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on Tuesday, November 1, 2016. Executives who engage in so-called "vaccine tourism" show both an ethical disregard for those less fortunate and a surprising lack of business acumen, experts argue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine tourism is both unethical and bad for business, experts say

Executives who engage in so-called “vaccine tourism” show both an ethical disregard… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Jesse Puljujarvi (13) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Justin Holl (3) battle in front as goalie Jack Campbell (36) makes the save during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, February 27, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
No Matthews, no problem: Minus NHL goal leader, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 4-0

Leafs 4 Oilers 0 EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs knew even with… Continue reading

The Pornhub website is shown on a computer screen in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Pornhub policies reveal legal gaps and lack of enforcement around exploitive videos

OTTAWA — Serena Fleites was in seventh grade when a sexually explicit… Continue reading

Sean Hoskin stands on a neighbourhood street in Halifax on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Hoskin was diagnosed with COVID-19 almost a year ago with symptoms that still persist. Some provinces have established programs to deal with long-term sufferers but Atlantic Canada, with relatively low numbers of patients, has yet to provide a resource to assist them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
On East Coast, exhausted COVID-19 ‘long haulers’ hope specialized clinics will emerge

HALIFAX — On evenings when Sean Hoskin collapses into bed, heart pounding… Continue reading

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Most Read