Cougars maul Raiders

The biggest concern Notre Dame Cougars head coach Gino Castellan had going into the Central Alberta High School Football League season was at running back.

Punt returner Conner Borle of the Notre Dame Cougars evades the first tackler in the Lindsay Thurber Raiders punt coverage team as the Cougars rolled to a 35-17 win on Friday at Great Chief Park.

Punt returner Conner Borle of the Notre Dame Cougars evades the first tackler in the Lindsay Thurber Raiders punt coverage team as the Cougars rolled to a 35-17 win on Friday at Great Chief Park.

Cougars 35 Raiders 7

The biggest concern Notre Dame Cougars head coach Gino Castellan had going into the Central Alberta High School Football League season was at running back.

“We didn’t have an experienced back,” explained Castellan at the time.

But Dale MacDonald has quickly erased any worries Castellan may have had.

He’s proving to be one of the premier backs in the league, as was evident again Friday as he rushed 25 times for 209 yards and one touchdown to help lead the Cougars to a 35-7 victory over the Lindsay Thurber Raiders at Great Chief Park.

It was the second time in three games MacDonald has reached the 200-yard mark.

“I played running back one year in bantam so coming here I always wanted to carry the ball,” explained MacDonald, who played defensive back last season.

“We had a lot of running backs last year so I said I’d play defence so I’d get more playing time,” he explained. “And that worked out for me. I got to play and got a chance to get used to the speed of the league.”

The five-foot-eight, 160-pound MacDonald spent most of the summer attending camps, working on his offensive skills.

“He approached me after last season about switching to running back and he worked hard to improve at it,” said Castellan. “We felt he would come in and do a good job, but we’re still pleasantly surprised at how quickly he’s adapted.”

MacDonald gives is offensive line the credit.

“I give my blockers all the credit,” he said. “Plus the fact we’re throwing the ball more opens things up and takes some pressure off me.”

Cougars quarterback Kyle Devine had a solid game, connecting on six of 13 passes for 112 yards and four touchdowns — two to Connor McLachlan and one each to Nathan Stearns and Glen Ritchie.

Aaron Moritz had five converts.

The game was tied 7-7 midway through the second quarter with Devine hitting McLachlan on a 20-yard scoring strike at 10:53 to make the score 14-7 at the half.

The second half was controlled by the Cougars defence, consistently giving the offence good field position.

“We played well in the first half, but the second half we consistently lost field position,” said Raiders head coach Dave Smith. “We lost our punter and quarterback (Kyle O’Meara) with a shoulder injury and that made a difference. Plus they played tough defence and capitalized on their chances.”

“I thought overall our defence played well,” added Castellan. “Plus we made some adjustments on offence at the half and it showed right away as we marched down the field on that first position, which gave us some breathing room.”

The Raiders finished with 99 yards rushing and 53 passing while the Cougars had 253 and 112 respectively,

Greg Fowler had 99 yards rushing on 15 carries for the Raiders.

The Raiders host Rocky Mountain House Thursday while Notre Dame visits Stettler.

drode@bprda.wpengine.com