Lightning 35 Cougars 8
The Hunting Hills Lightning and Notre Dame Cougars didn’t merely go through the motions Friday night at Great Chief Park, despite the fact both clubs will meet again next Thursday in a contest with some real meaning.
Friday’s outing was for second place in the Tier 1-2 Division of the Central Alberta High School Football League and the Lightning prevailed, jolting their Red Deer foes 35-8. Next week’s clash is a division semifinal.
Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick defended his decision to leave his starters in the game despite leading 28-8 in the fourth quarter.
“It was a 20-point game with 10 minutes to go,” said Sedgwick, who had second-team players on defence when the Cougars scored their lone touchdown early in the final quarter. “Twenty points in 10 minutes . . . who knows? We needed to recapture some momentum for next week.”
The Lightning closed out the scoring a few minutes later when Eric Thomson busted over the line from one yard out.
“We stayed with our first group until there was seven minutes left, then we ended up subbing,” said Sedgwick. “We weren’t trying to run up the score. We just had to sustain things.”
Lightning quarterback Brett Barrett scored two majors on runs of four and five yards and hooked up with Linden Peterson on a 75-yard pass-and-run play for a touchdown. Brandt Burzak, who rushed for 164 yards, scored on a nine-yard run and Eder Arias converted all five majors.
Carter Kish accounted for the Cougars’ lone major on a seven-yard scamper. Eric Meraw converted the score and Keegan MacDonald added a punt single.
Cougars running back Johannes Smith led all ground-gainers with an outstanding 249-yard performance. Smith, who clinched the league rushing title, lugged the ball 33 times Friday.
“That guy is a great running back, for sure, and Brandt did his part to try and win that (rushing crown) tonight,” said Sedgwick. “I credit their (Cougars’) run game. They blocked well and Johannes runs very well. But we had a good running attack tonight, too.”
Barrett went the distance for Hunting Hills, completing three of 16 passes for 97 yards, while MacDonald was good on one of five pass attempts for three yards and Cougars back-up quarterback Devin Desormeau was two-for-two for 19 yards.
Both head coaches are convinced that the semifinal will be a closer contest.
“Next week is going to be a different story,” said Sedgwick. “I think both teams tried to keep things simple tonight with bread and butter stuff. I’m sure they’ll have some new wrinkles for us next week. We always have tough games against these guys and now comes the chess match.”
“We did a lot of good things tonight,” said Cougars sideline boss Gino Castellan. “We’re getting better, we just have to turn the corner. Once the kids see that corner it could be a different game, I don’t know.
“I’m just waiting to see, but we have to show up. It’s one game. If the kids come to play and our big guys step up, it could be a different ball game.”
Raiders 30 Rams 7
The Lindsay Thurber Raiders, already assured of first place in the Tier 1/2 Division, thumped the host Lacombe Rams 30-7 Friday.
The winless Rams, who finished last in the division, will visit the Raiders next Friday for a semifinal clash at Great Chief Park.
Bradley Pope scored two majors for the visitors, who got another touchdown from Gordie Walls, two field goals, a convert and singles off three missed field goals from Owen Smith, and a two-point conversion from Keith Warren.
Cam Heslop accounted for the Rams’ lone score, converted by Jared St. Thomas. Pope led all rushers with 116 yards on nine carries, while Raiders quarterback Ben Pasiuk ran for 85 yards and passed for 105.
• In Tier 3-4 playoff action Friday, the host Rocky Mountain House Rebels downed the Wetaskiwin Sabres 14-7.