Dolan Hills was a beast when it mattered most for the Hunting Hills Lightning.
Hills went over 150 yards rushing and had two touchdowns in the Central Alberta High School League city final Saturday.
His performance was crucial in pushing the Lightning to a 27-8 victory over the Lindsay Thurber Raiders at Great Chief Park.
The Lightning running game, led by Hills had the Raiders on their heels nearly all night.
“He’s one of the best players in the province. We knew he was already one of the best linebackers, team Alberta last summer. We thought he was not necessarily going to play running back,” Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgewick said.
“A couple guys weren’t around anymore, so he was going to have to carry the load. He got injured for a couple games which allowed us to find Joe Hunt, who I thought ran well. Dolan had the desire. He’s been around. There’s a lot of guys that it’s their second or third time in this game and how to prepare for it and they showed that.”
With the win, the Lightning earned their second consecutive city league title and seventh since 2010.
Raiders head coach Aaron Sheppard was also was proud of the way his team played in the final and this season. They finished the year with a 6-2 record.
“I’m super proud of our guys. It sucks, coming into this game, obviously, we’d love to win a championship. We work towards it,” said Raiders head coach Aaron Sheppard.
“We tried here. We just started out too slow. You could tell by experience. They worked real hard and they are always well-coached. I told the kids, you go to championship games, you can’t give gimmies.”
— Byron Hackett (@RDAbyronhackett) November 4, 2018
In the final, Lightning kicker Carson Gurski opened the scoring with a 16-yard field goal at 6:13 of the first quarter. Gurski also hit a 28-yard field goal with three minutes left in the third quarter.
Lightning running back Dolan Hills then busted out a 52-yard run for a touchdown with just under six minutes to play in the second quarter. It was the first touchdown of the contest.
Haidan Brown hit Nathan Fuerbringer for a 13-yard score with just three seconds left in the first half to extend the Lightning advantage.
“We were fighting the clock, but we went hurry up. It was perfect, we scored with three seconds left,” Sedgwick said.
“That was huge. (Lindsay Thurber) is a young team, this is a new scenario for them… big play. That and the drive in the third quarter from our one, I thought those were the turning points.”
Raiders wideout Will Moir had a huge return on the opening kickoff of the second half, down to the Lightning 10-yard line. Lindsay Thurber was stuffed on third down from the one-yard line and were not able to put points on the board.
They were able to climb back into the contest briefly with a huge touchdown catch from Alex Pennycook. Quarterback Josh Campbell found his man in the corner of the endzone for a 15-yard touchdown near the end of the third quarter. The score cut the deficit to 20-7 after three quarters.
Hills put a nail in the Raiders coffin midway through the fourth quarter with a 28-yard scamper into the end zone.
Sedgewick also added that players who didn’t play in the final but still had an impact on the Lightning were Ethan McLean, Chase Lloyd, Shane McCutcheon and Keiran Ible.
Both the Raiders and Lightning will play in the provincial quarter-final next Saturday at Great Chief Park. Lindsay Thurber will play Grande Prairie Composite High School Warriors in the Tier I North Regional game.
In the Tier II north regional contest, The Lightning will host the Robert Thirsk Comets.
The Holy Rosary Raiders will play the Sylvan Lake Lakers in the Tier III north regional semifinal.