LACOMBE — The notion of starting the Central Alberta High School Football League season two-and-zero was a strange concept to the Hunting Hills Lightning and head coach Kyle Sedgwick.
As it turned, the unthinkable was never a possibility as the Lightning dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 36-7 victory over the host Lacombe Rams Thursday night at MEGlobal Athletic Park.
The visitors got a touchdown from quarterback Brett Barrett on a two-yard bootleg late in the opening quarter and never looked back while piling up 335 yards of offence.
“We had a good game plan, although our first couple of series were a little slow,” said Sedgwick, whose club was coming off a season-opening 8-7 loss to the Lindsay Thurber Raiders. “But our offensive line turned it on in the third or fourth series of the game and I thought our quarterback played a lot better.
“Our passing wasn’t where we want it to be, but we established the run with him, as well. If it’s not broke we’re not going to fix it.”
The Lightning, who led 22-0 at halftime, got three majors from Barrett — the latter couple coming on two-yard runs — and single touchdowns from Cole Layden, on a five-yard scamper, and Bradnt Burzak, who scored from six yards out and burned the Rams defence for 151 yards on 11 carries overall. Mike Wakelin booted three converts, Matt Larsen added one, and the visitors also added a safety.
The Rams, who finally got on the board when Zach Bailey hit Cam Heslop with a 27-yard scoring pass with 2:40 remaining in the contest, finished with 140 yards passing and 53 yards via the overland route.
“Our defence was outstanding, that’s a pretty veteran group,” said Sedgwick. “We wanted them to play fast. Last week we had the right game plan and played hard, our guys just took some bad angles. We played hard last week, we just didn’t play very smart.
“This week we took a while to get going, but we definitely played smarter and once our defence starts flying around we have enough athleticism to make tackles when we have to. I was really happy with our defence as far as how many guys were to the ball. Even when we had the younger guys on, we still had a number of players to the ball every breakdown.
“I was happy with how we played. Was it better than last week’s performance? There probably wasn’t as much emotion, but we definitely played smarter.”
Barrett completed eight of 15 passes for 106 yards, while Burzak led all rushers as the Lightning ran for 229 yards. Burzak also caught two passes for 33 yards, while teammate Linden Peterson hauled in three balls for 30 yards and Tanner Olstad snagged two for 24 yards.
Bailey was good on 10 of 16 passes for the Rams, hitting Lucas Wessner and Heslop four times apiece for 79 of the 130 yards he recorded through the air. Lacombe back-up David Mueller completed two of five attempts for 10 yards and Eric Thomas was zero-for-two after replacing Barrett in the fourth quarter.
Ben Arifin hauled in two passes for 51 yards and was the Rams’ leading ground-gainer with 53 yards on four carries.
“This is the first time in my six years (as Hunting Hills coach) that we were below .500,” said Sedgwick, in reference to his club’s 0-1 record heading into Thursday’s outing. “There is a tradition (of winning) and like I said at the start of the season, there’s complacency that we battle and that can be a tougher battle every year.
“But tonight was Hunting Hills football, for sure. We don’t care how we get points, whether it’s run or pass, as long as our defence plays well and we score more than the other team.”
The Lightning and Rams both return to action next Thursday at Great Chief Park, with Hunting Hills facing the Notre Dame Cougars at 7:30 p.m. and Lacombe taking on Lindsay Thurber in an earlier contest set for 4:30 p.m.