Lightning 16 Rams 6
LACOMBE — The Hunting Hills Lightning weren’t perfect, but for it being their first game of the Central Alberta High School Football League season they weren’t bad.
The Lightning did exactly what they had to do to down the favoured Lacombe Rams 16-6 Friday.
“We knew we’d have some mistakes, there always are in the first game of the season, especially in that we didn’t have any exhibition games or saw any live fire, but we limited them just enough,” said Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgewick. “In fact it was an exciting game to watch. It was a defensive battle and both teams have a lot of athletes.”
In the end the Lightning defence held a slight edge over the Rams.
They limited the Rams to 103 yards rushing and 81 passing while the Lightning accumulated 161 yards on the ground and 75 in the air.
The big difference came on a third-quarter interception by Mark Beingessner, who returned it 80 yards for a touchdown. When Tyler Lewis kicked the convert the Lightning held a 16-0 lead.
“Mark is a first year player, but he has really matured as he takes in everything the coaches say,” said Lightning’s outstanding middle linebacker Ben McIver. “That play was big for us.”
McIver knew going into the game they had to step up as the Rams possesses one of the top offences in the league.
“It was a team effort,” he said. “We stuck together. Our D line for being so young, with only one Grade 12, stuck it out and got their noses in there.”
The Lightning didn’t do anything special on defence to prepare for the likes of Rams running back Skylar Sargeant and quarterback Cole Stewart.
“Just worked hard,” said McIver. “The coaches busted our butts all week and we were ready.”
Rams head coach Brian Ross agreed.
“They were well prepared for what we threw at them,” he said. “I thought our defence also played well as seven of their points came off the interception, but we have some areas on offence to work on. But then we have a whole season to fix that.”
Sedgewick gave high praise to his defence as he used many of his veterans both ways.
“This is one of the tougher teams in the league and we needed our veterans to step up,” he said. “A lot of our younger guys aren’t there yet, plus this was a game our veterans were excited about.”
It was the third straight meeting between the two, including two games last season — the final regular season contest and the league semifinals. Both won by Lacombe.
“It was a nice to get the victory over them, but we have to carry this over to the rest of the season and not sit back,” added McIver. “And I’m sure we’ll see them again before the year is over.”
But while the defences were solid, it wasn’t all defence.
Tyler Lewis, who started at fullback to take some of the load off running back Stas McPhail, was outstanding with 88 yards on 13 carries and grabbed four passes for 39 yards.
McPhail had 88 yards on 15 carries.
“Lewis played slot last year, but we needed two threats in the backfield so they couldn’t key on Stas,” said Sedgewick. “And Tyler did a great job, when the game was on the line, he ran hard, double wrapped (the ball) and finished his runs.”
Quarterback John Boutin scored the Lightning’s other touchdown on a one-yard plunge at 5:30 of the second quarter. Lewis finished with two converts and two singles — on a punt and missed field goal.
Brandt Kolybaba scored for the Rams on a 14-yard pass from Stewart at 10:46 of the final quarter.
Sargeant led the Rams with 86 yards rushing on 13 carries and grabbed three passes for 50 yards.
• In other league action the defending champion Notre Dame Cougars, who were 8-0 last season, were whipped 36-7 by the Camrose Trojans in Camrose.
The Trojans dominated on offence, finishing with 356 yards compared to 140 for the Cougars.
“Our offensive line did an outstanding job,” said Trojans head coach Adam Belanger.
Tylor Henry scored a pair of touchdowns, both on passes, including one on a 107-yard hook up with quarterback Scott Backus.
John Hildebeck had a touchdown, two field goals, three converts and three singles while Logan Woods had a touchdown.
Jordan Brault scored for the Cougars.
• Also, the West Central Rebels of Rocky Mountain House went into Wetaskiwin and beat the Sabres 20-3 late Friday.
• League action resumes Thursday when the Lightning visit the Lindsay Thurber Raiders at 7:30 p.m. at Great Chief Park.