Lightning 12 Cougars 7
In passing up windy weather Friday, the Central Alberta High School Football League ran into the dead of winter Monday.
With 100 km/h winds passing through the region Friday, the league decided to cancel the two semifinal games and play Monday.
At kickoff for the first semi between the Hunting Hills Lightning and Notre Dame Cougars, the field was dusted with a layer of snow and it felt like minus-20. The frigid and unseasonable temperatures made for a battle of field position in the first half, with only Hunting Hills scoring points in the first 24 minutes.
The offence picked up a little bit in the second half and the Lightning were just slightly better, earning a 12-7 victory over the Cougars and a trip to their 10th straight league final.
“It was postponed from Friday, we had hurricane winds and the forecast wasn’t looking great today. It really wasn’t good and the wind was still a factor. The elements really effected what both teams could do,” said Lightning coach Kyle Sedgwick.
“We had some plays early on, we were just inches away from making them. Notre Dame played really, really hard. On the line of scrimmage, they played hard and battled.”
Daniel Bae had the only points of the first half. The Lightning kicker punched a 29-yard field goal through the uprights with just under 30 seconds left in the half.
Notre Dame finally broke through for the first touchdown of the game, when Ethan Briault scurried in for a 20-yard score on a read option.
That seemed to spark the Lightning, as Bae cashed a 32-yard field goal to cut the deficit to one at the start of the fourth quarter.
Trailing by one with less than six minutes to play, Josh Fuerbringer connected on a deep pass to Zach Sanderson, then hit Joel Demale on the next play that got them down to the one-yard line.
Fuerbringer called his own number and punched it in for the first Lightning touchdown of the game. They missed the two-point conversion and lead 12-7 with 5:48 to play.
“We had one big pass play to Zach Sanderson, that set up the touchdown eventually. Our quarterback came through when it was a tough day to really much other than try to run the ball,” Sedgewick said.
Luc Lukulu had a great return for the Cougars that set up Notre Dame for a chance to tie the game late.
With 4:19 to go deep in Hunting Hills territory, Demale picked off Briault on a screen pass to essentially seal the victory.
“We were screaming it, we prepped for it all week. Great play for Joel Demale, he’s a helluva a player,” Sedgwick added.
The Lightning will play the Lacombe Rams for the city title on Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. Great Chief Park.