Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-HHHS football    -----Standup????-----Hunting Hills High School Lightning senior football coach Kyle Sedgewick works with players during a practice on Monday. The Lightning open their football season this Friday at Great Chief Park against the Notre Dame Cougars.

Photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff-HHHS football -----Standup????-----Hunting Hills High School Lightning senior football coach Kyle Sedgewick works with players during a practice on Monday. The Lightning open their football season this Friday at Great Chief Park against the Notre Dame Cougars.

Lightning should still produce some electricity

After graduating 11 of 12 Central Alberta Football League all-star players, the defending City Division champion Hunting Hills Lightning might be expected to slide down the list of contenders in 2015. But these are the Lightning, the three-time defending champs and winners of four of the last five titles.

After graduating 11 of 12 Central Alberta Football League all-star players, the defending City Division champion Hunting Hills Lightning might be expected to slide down the list of contenders in 2015.

But these are the Lightning, the three-time defending champs and winners of four of the last five titles.

“We were pretty heavy with the Grade 12 all stars last year, but we usually are,” head coach Kyle Sedgwick said Thursday. “But we have a lot of guys who will step up this season, We’re young in the skill positions but we’re confident with the ability of our linemen, our running backs and our linebackers.

“We just have to stay healthy. That’s the key.”

The one 2014 all star who is returning is running back Brandt Burzuk, who projects as one of the league’s premier ground-gainers this year. Burzuk earned a spot with Team Alberta for the Football Canada Cup this summer.

“Brandt will carry the load for us this year. He had a great off-season. He trained really hard and made Team Alberta,” said Sedgwick. “He had a great Canada Cup, he learned a lot there. He’s going to be counted on quite a bit this season.”

Joining Burzuk on Team Alberta were Lightning linebacker Edward Kim and two-way lineman Travis Derksen, who played on the O-line during the Canada Cup.

“Kim made Team Alberta as a Grade 10 linebacker, which is a pretty impressive feat,” said Sedgwick. “These three young men learned a lot and they brought that experience and leadership back with them.”

Derksen will anchor the Lightning offensive and defensive lines this year, while Colton Maddock is also expected to be front and centre on the D-line and fellow veterans Cole Layden and Brandon Lundy will be go-to players at the linebacker position. The secondary will feature the likes of Zach Pilgrim and Kade Damant.

“Even though we had a big Grade 12 group last year and a lot of them were all stars, we have a good returning group that include quite a few starters,” said Sedgwick. “We’re a little young and inexperienced at quarterback and receiver, but we just have to make that work.

“We have a lot of Grade 10s. Our bantam team was fairly strong last year with a lot of skill guys, so we have a lot of skill coming at receiver and defensive back, it’s just going to take them some time to catch up to the speed of the senior game.

“I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of them so far.”

Eric Thomson, who was the backup to all star Brett Barrett in 2014, will start at quarterback when the Lightning take on the Notre Dame Cougars in the season-opener for both teams tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.

“He knows the system, he knows the footwork,” said Sedgwick. “We also have three Grade 10s who have come a long way and will be good quarterbacks, but they’re not there yet.”

Jordan Lenius and Josh Patterson are two rookie receivers of note, while veteran Kaden Hall will also be a prime target for Thomson.

“He’s just a very intelligent player,” Sedgwick said of Hall. “He’s one of those guys who will be a coach some day.”

Sedgwick and his coaching staff set their sights high every season and in recent years have not been disappointed.

“With the league structure we’re always going to be competitive,” said the head coach. “We’ve built a strong culture here and always have enough veteran players coming back. We preach habits and proper preparation, we try and treat it like post secondary.

“Some years we’ve won when maybe we didn’t have the best talent, but guys believe in the process.”

The head coach certainly does not feel that his team will steamroll to a title this year. On the contrary . . .

“This year I think all the teams in our division are going to be good,” said Sedgwick. “Lacombe and Notre Dame were young last year and they’re going to be very good.

“And Lindsay Thurber, even with (quarterback) Ben Pasiuk injured right now, they still have a very good group of players in Grade 11 and 12 who did very well when they were in bantam. And of course they beat us twice last year before we were able to overcome them in the division final.

“All four teams should be very good this year. We’re just hoping to compete and eventually represent the zone in the tier 2 provincials.”

Just Posted

New admissions have been suspended for Engineering Technology diplomas (Instrumentation, Electrical and Mechanical) and the Transitional Vocational Program at Red Deer College. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Developmentally disabled impacted: Red Deer College suspends program

Transitional Vocational Program comes to an end

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw is asking Albertans to do their part by observing gathering limits, staying home if unwell, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three new Central zone COVID-19 deaths, Alberta adds 1,433 cases

Red Deer down to 802 active cases of COVID-19

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman holds up freedom of information requests that turned up no records. The Opposition requested back-to-school re-entry plan correspondence between Education Minister Adriana LaGrange and school boards, teachers and the media. Photo via Facebook live
NDP renews calls for Alberta gov’t to scrap K-6 draft curriculum

The NDP is once again calling on the Alberta Government to get… Continue reading

Earlier this week Alberta Health Services warned that Rocky Mountain House Health Centre emergency department would be temporarily without physician coverage from May 12, at 6 p.m., to May 13, at 7 a.m. (Photo contributed by the Town of Rocky Mountain House)
Doctors needed in Rocky Mountain House

Emergency department temporarily closed due to doctor shortage

The owner of Mae’s Kitchen in Mirror, says hamlet residents were ‘disheartened’ by a recent anti-restriction protest. The restaurant is following all the health restrictions in place. (Photo courtesy Mae’s Kitchen Facebook)
‘We don’t need that’: Mirror restaurant against recent anti-restriction protest

A week after a large anti-restriction protest at The Whistle Stop Cafe… Continue reading

Bo’s Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening. (Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) deflects a shot against the Carolina Hurricanes during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, May 8, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

NHL postseason: Who’s hot as the playoffs arrive?

Ottawa Senators' Connor Brown, right, celebrates a goal with teammates during third period NHL action against the Montreal Canadiens, in Ottawa, Wednesday, March 5, 2021. Brown will lead a young Canadian squad into the world hockey championship in Riga, Latvia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

Ottawa forward Connor Brown leads Canada’s roster at world championship

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2018, file photo, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Jayna Hefford shakes hands with people associated with the hall before a hockey game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New Jersey Devils in Toronto. The Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association is forging ahead in its bid to establish an economically sustainable professional league in North America with or — for now — without the NHL’s full financial backing. In response to Sportsnet.ca reporting the NHL was not in a position to operate a women’s league for the foreseeable future, PWHPA executive Jayna Hefford wrote in an email to The Associated Press late Thursday that her group has begun developing what she called “a parallel path for a future that doesn’t rely on NHL support.” (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

PWHPA forging ahead without NHL backing of women’s hockey

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

‘No secrets’ and no certainty in one-of-a-kind NHL playoffs

Supporters dance during a rally against measures taken by government and health authorities to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Mirror, Alta., on Saturday, May 8, 2021. RCMP say they have ticketed four people after the rally that was attended by hundreds.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Alberta leadership responsible for protests against public health orders: expert

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Kenney is distancing himself from a decision to expel two members from his United Conservative caucus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Kenney distances himself from caucus vote to turf dissidents with ‘personal agendas’

Kenney distances himself from caucus vote to turf dissidents with ‘personal agendas’

Alberta's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday, July 6, 2020. A judge is expected to rule this morning on a challenge of the United Conservative government's inquiry into whether foreign groups have conspired against Alberta's oil industry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Judge dismisses attempt to quash ‘anti-Alberta’ activities inquiry

Judge dismisses attempt to quash ‘anti-Alberta’ activities inquiry

Albertans receive vaccines at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary on Thursday, April 22, 2021. Alberta Health Services says it has obtained a restraining order against a Calgary mayoral candidate who the agency says has threatened health workers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

Alberta health agency obtains restraining order against Calgary mayoral candidate

Most Read