Lightning 58 Trojans 0
It was over before it almost started.
The Hunting Hills Lightning scored on their first play of the game and rolled to a 58-0 victory over the Camrose Trojans in Central Alberta High School Football League exhibition play before 322 fans at Great Chief Park Thursday.
“We were a bit lucky on the first play as their corner got caught on the wrong side,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick.
“It was the play we called, but we got to the line quickly and snapped the ball.”
Quarterback Scott Pearson was able to whip a quick pass out to Evan Petriew who dashed down the left side 56 yards, making it 7-0, after the first of eight Austin Belan converts, 29 seconds into the game.
By the end of the first quarter the Lightning led 30-0 and were up 51-0 at the half.
But while most things were going the way of the Lightning there was one major negative when running back Matt Russell was helped off the field with a head injury. He was returning a punt when a Camrose player didn’t let up and nailed him before the ball even arrived.
It was something that didn’t sit well with Sedgwick.
“It was a cheap shot to the head,” Sedgwick said. “It certainly fired me up, and rightly so. You can’t take a 30-yard run and hit the guy helmet-to-helmet. A head injury is very serious. He doesn’t have any other injury, but we’ll have him looked at and see where we’re at. Right now it’s day to day.”
Russell, the team’s No. 1 back, had 88 yards on four carries and two touchdowns when he was injured. He was replaced by Grade 10 back Jim Ahn, who scored on a 45-yard run the first time he touched the ball and finished with 13 carries for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His biggest play was a 91-yard touchdown romp to open the third quarter and put a cap on the Hunting Hills scoring.
“Jin is only in his second year of football, but he’s very explosive and a very physical kid. He will only get better as he learns,” said Sedgwick. “Right now he needed all those reps as in all likelihood he’ll have to play a lot of tailback next Friday (against Notre Dame).”
Tristan Wattenbarger, on a 39-yard run, Pearson, on a 10-yard gallop, and Branden Petersen, on a five-yard pass from Jarrett Burzuk, accounted for the other touchdowns. The Trojans also gave up a safety.
“We did all the things we wanted to on offence,” added Sedgwick. “But that’s what you expect from a veteran group.”
Still Sedgwick started taking some of his guys out early.
“That was because of what happened on that play on Russell . . . we can’t afford another injury like that,” he said.
The Lightning defence isn’t as veteran, but limited the short staffed Trojans to 120 yards rushing and 37 passing.
“One good thing about having two non-conference games to open the season we got our young defence, which only has three returning starters, a lot of reps,” added Sedgwick. “We’ll need those for next week.”
The biggest player on the defensive line is Grade 10 Jake McFadden, who isn’t looking out of place.
Overall Sedgwick used 49 players almost twice as many as the Trojans utilized.
“We have a short bench so a lot of guys had to go both ways and were getting tired,” said Trojans head coach Adam Belanger. “We’ve had a number of injuries and at the end of the game we had more guys on the sidelines not in gear than we had guys able to play.”
The Lightning finished with 465 yards rushing and 126 passing.
Tanner Whitelaw had 47 yards rushing on five carries while Michael Ioanidis led Camrose with 60 yards on 10 tries.
Pearson connected on five of nine passes for 96 yards while Burzuk was one-of-one and Brett Barrett hit three of four for 25 yards. Corson Clarkson was good on five of 18 passes for Camrose.
Camrose’s next action is next Friday when they host Wetaskiwin.
Regular season play begins tonight with four games including a huge matchup with the Sylvan Lake Lakers at the Notre Dame Cougars at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park. As well, Lindsay Thurber is at Lacombe at 4:30 p.m., Ponoka visits West Central in Rocky Mountain House at 4:30 p.m. and Stettler is at Wetaskiwin at 7:30 p.m.