Hunting Hills Lightning wide receiver Nathan Lavigne catches a pass and breaks a tackle early in the first quarter against the Notre Dame Cougars on Thursday night in high school football action at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Hunting Hills Lightning cruise to undefeated regular season

It wasn’t from lack of trying by the Notre Dame Cougars, but the Hunting Hills Lightning closed out the city high school football regular season undefeated.

In what looked like it could be a blowout early, the Cougars kept in close but Hunting Hills flexed their muscle and closed out a somewhat sloppy win 28-8.

“First half was exactly what we needed. We had some guys not playing because they were banged up from last week. Last regular season game, standings were all set and Notre Dame came out and played hard. We needed that, we needed a good test,” Hunting Hills head coach Kyle Sedgwick said.

“No team is just going to lay down for you. Doesn’t matter if the game doesn’t mean anything in the standings. It’s all about momentum. First half wasn’t great, we responded in the second half.”

Even in the win, Hunting Hills looked shaky for the first time all season. With the running game stalled in the opening half, it was Logan Clarkson who turned the tide for the Lightning. He ran for a 15-yard touchdown early in the third quarter and broke out a number of first downs in the half. Lightning regular running back Luc Lukalu was out for the contest.

“Was (Logan’s) first game tonight, played last year as a grade 10. He was our main tailback. Gives us some good balance between some quickness and power,” Sedgwick said.

“It was nice to give him some reps tonight and knock some rust off. We’re going to need him to help us moving forward.”

The Lightning still relied heavily on the passing game, but quarterback Brandon Rees didn’t seem to be on the same page as his receivers. The only two big scores that made the difference were both hookups with Nathan Lavigne. The first was early in the game, a 30-yard score where Lavigne did most of the damage after the catch. The second, a nice eight-yard pitch and catch late in the second quarter.

Notre Dame’s Alex Groenen scored on a 50-yard scoop and score to end the first half and kept the game within reach at 13-8. Otherwise the Notre Dame offence was stagnant in the opening 24 minutes with less than a handful of first downs, the passing game not really clicking and the running attack failing to find many holes.

Hunting Hills defence also stood strong all game long, including a shutout of the Cougars in the final 24 minutes.

“We were missing our middle linebacker, so we had some guys move around and they stepped in well. They scored on a turnover late in the half and that was it… Our defence played real well. It’s a strong suit of ours, I think we’re very fast on defence and that helped us,” Sedgwick said.

Rees also had a two-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

Friday night the Lindsay Thurber Raiders will tangle with the Lacombe Rams in the final regular season game, with playoffs going the following week. With the Cougars loss, they’ll face Lacombe in round one of the playoffs and Hunting Hills will take on Lindsay Thurber.

Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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