The two Red Deer teams saw their provincial high school football playoff runs come to an end Saturday.
The Notre Dame Cougars were eliminated in a 32-13 loss to the top-ranked Bev Facey Falcons of Sherwood Park in the Tier I North Division final, while the Hunting Hills Lightning lost 35-14 to the No. 2 seeded Foothills Falcons in the Tier II South final.
The Cougars came out of the gate and scored first to take a 7-0 lead, and controlled play most of the first half.
“We played well and had a third down gamble which we came up short on or we had a chance to be up 14-2,” said Cougars head coach Gino Castellan. “But we had a tough break late in the period and they scored on a about a 90 yard special teams play, which seemed to take some of the wind out of our sails.”
Still the Cougars weren’t embarrassed and can be proud of the fact they’re the first team from Central Alberta to advance beyond the first round of the provincials in 21 years.
“We didn’t get blown away and did a good job against their top running back, who is going to the States next year,” said Castellan. “They’re a very talented team with tremendous team speed. I knew we would be in tough and the guys may have been a bit intimidated, but they plugged away.”
The Falcons take on the third-ranked St. Francis Browns of Calgary, who downed the Raymond Comets 29-18.
The Lightning also controlled the majority of the play in the first half, but were down 7-0.
“We put together some good drives, but missed two field goals and just couldn’t find a way to score against a veteran defence, which had 9 or 10 Grade 12s,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick. “We do have a younger team and if we could have scored early it would have helped our confidence. I know we can play better and we match-up better than we have in the past against them, which makes it a bit frustrating.”
It’s the fifth time the two teams have met in the last three years and three of those have been in the provincial playoffs.
“Last year we lost to them 49-0 and they went on to easily win the provincial title,” said Sedgwick.
The Lightning got touchdowns from Austin Schneider and Eric Thomson and were within 10 points until the Falcons scored twice late.
“We had to open up and try a few different things and they took advantage,” said Sedgwick.
Foothills will meet the top-ranked St. Josephs Celtics, who defeated the Lloydminster Barons 20-3.
Meanwhile, the Stettler Wildcats remained alive in the Tier IV playoffs, downing the Sexsmith Sabres 27-14 in the North final.
The ‘Cats take on the Bow Valley Bobcats, who stopped W.R. Myers of Taber 41-14.
The final is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Calgary’s Hellard Park.
All the finals will be played at Hellard Park.
In the six-man playoffs, the Rimbey Spartans downed the Buck Mountain Mustangs 54-44 to advance to the final against top-ranked St. Joseph’s Crusaders, who stopped the Millwoods Christian Royals 64-18. The final is Friday at 4 p.m.