With an upset on their minds, the Hunting Hills Lightning senior football team were hoping to shake up the provincial football scene on Saturday.
With the Alberta Schools Athletic Association (ASAA) Tier II provincial semi-finals in their own backyard at Setter’s Place, the Lightning had the home crowd advantage.
Despite that, the Lightning fell just short, losing to the Holy Trinity Academy Knights 44-22.
However, this was far from an easy task for the Lightning who took on the number one team in Tier II football.
Head coach Kyle Sedgwick said despite the loss, he’s super proud of his team and explained that the Lightning gave the Knights the best game they’ve played all season.
“They ran the ball well because they have a lot of Grade 12s who have played together a long time but their line of scrimmage play is very good too. That’s sometimes overlooked because of all the skill they do have,” he said.
“Those are the plays that hurt us a bit. It’s a team where they can play any style they want… Can’t match touchdown for a touchdown with them but I think all of their wins this year are a 60-7 score. It stings and it’s really crappy for our Grade 12s but we couldn’t have asked for a better effort today.”
The Knights jumped out to a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter before the Lightning tied it up off a long pass down-field. Later in the opening frame, the Knights led 23-7 after a few scores but an interception by the defence got the ball back for Hunting Hills with great field position.
The Lightning marched the field to narrow the deficit 23-14 however the Knights scored once more before the end of the half to take a commanding 30-15 lead.
“I think we had a lot of guys step up. Our quarterback is a Grade 11 kid who has grown up a lot this year… The passing game was there you know against a team like that you can’t just try and go shot for shot. You’ve got to get some stops on defence and we got a big turnover and what really killed us offensively was we had two and outs in each half,” he added.
The Lightning will graduate 13 players this year and to put it into perspective, the Knights started 27 Grade 12s in the game.
Sedgwick said he’s proud of his senior players who helped get their program back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic. Next year they’ll have plenty of returning players and Sedgwick plans to regroup and build off their success.
“[We’re] the second or third best team in our tier out of 30 teams in the province, I truly believe that… The message is you guys hung in there with a very veteran, athletic, and good team.”
The Sylvan Lake Lakers also played at Setter’s place on Saturday in the Tier III provincial semi-finals and lost 48-31 to the Strathmore Spartans.