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.”

Just Posted

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr
Central Alberta MLAs comment on UCP members kicked out of caucus

A pair of central Alberta MLAs have commented on the two United… Continue reading

Contributed photo
Johanna Hannaford: Central Alberta designer offers inclusive clothing

By Stephanie Rhodes Local designer Johanna Hannaford’s inclusive clothing creations are smashing… Continue reading

Red life-ring with splash
Started from the bottom: How a family business started and grew in central Alberta

By Carina Moran We started our business in the basement of our… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Zack MacEwen (71), Travis Boyd (72) and Jimmy Vesey (24) celebrate a goal against the Edmonton Oilers during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 15, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Big third period lifts Vancouver Canucks to 4-1 victory over Edmonton Oilers

Canucks 4 Oilers 1 EDMONTON — Matthew Highmore scored twice in the… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Canada’s vaccine rollout operation won’t miss a beat with new military leader: expert

DARTMOUTH — The sudden departure of the senior military officer in charge… Continue reading

Quebec Premier Francois Legault speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec premier argues province has power to amend constitution in letter to Trudeau

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault has written a letter to Prime… Continue reading

A demonstrator stands in front of riot police officers during a banned protest in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, in Paris, Saturday, May, 15, 2021. Marches in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were being held Saturday in a dozen French cities, but the focus was on Paris where riot police countered organizers who said they would defy a ban on the protest, ordered on the grounds that it risked turning violent. (AP Photo/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)
Police fire tear gas on banned Palestinian march in Paris

PARIS (AP) — French riot police fired tear gas and used water… Continue reading

Photo by The Associated Press
NYC Pride parade bans police; Gay officers ‘disheartened’

NEW YORK (AP) — Organizers of New York City’s Pride events said… Continue reading

Welcoming cowboy boots at the historic and colourful Last Chance Saloon in the ghost town of Wayne near Drumheller, Alta., on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019. The bar and hotel are up for sale. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘It was a going concern’: Remaining bar and hotel in Alberta coal ghost town for sale

WAYNE, Alta. — Built during the First World War, it survived the… Continue reading

A letter from a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 is shown in an undated handout photo. A team of researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to solve the mystery of whether a letter in a bottle that washed up in New Brunswick in 2017 was indeed from a young victim of Titanic shipwreck or simply a hoax. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, N. Beaudry, UQAR *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Real or hoax? Quebec scholars probe mystery letter allegedly from Titanic passenger

MONTREAL — Researchers from Université du Québec à Rimouski are trying to… Continue reading

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication between the federal Transport Department and the Canadian Transportation Agency regarding passenger refunds throws into question the independence of the CTA, an arm’s-length body. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Emails reveal close communication between government, transport regulator on refunds

OTTAWA — Advocates, experts and opposition MPs say correspondence showing close communication… Continue reading

Most Read