Falcons 45 Lightning 0
The Foothills Falcons soared while the Hunting Hills Lightning experienced a power outage.
The visitors from Okotoks flew past the Lightning 45-0 before 340 fans at Great Chief Park Saturday. The provincial tier 2 high school football semifinal was close after one quarter, but was basically decided by halftime.
Foothills quarterback Trey Kellogg, who had a big day passing, ran 29 yards up the middle for a first-quarter touchdown. The Falcons then scored 17 second-quarter points, including two majors that followed an interception and fumble recovery in the Lightning end.
Kellogg tossed a four-yard scoring strike to Coal Clark and also legged out an eight-yard touchdown, and Seth Nelson kicked a 16-yard field goal that followed a Falcons interception.
Down 24-0 and with their running game negated by a talented and aggressive Falcons defence, the Lightning were in an awful place.
“Foothills is a very talented, high football-IQ team. They’ve got very good athletes with a lot of experience,” Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick noted following the contest.
“Today it’s a 7-0 game and then we have two turnovers. In big games, big teams capitalize on mistakes and all of a sudden it’s 21-0. Right now, because of some injuries and limitations, we’re not able to climb out of a hole. If it’s a seven-, 10- or maybe 14-point game at the half, maybe we can get that, but then you turn the ball over again and it’s 24 points.
Two third-quarter touchdowns — on a seven-yard quarterback keeper by Kellogg and a 25-yard Kellogg pass to Brendan Lowry — upped the count to 38-0 and the visitors concluded the rout with a late fourth-quarter major, back-up pivot Tyson Pitcher hitting Mwamba Chali with a 43-yard pass.
Kellogg completed 10 of 22 passes for 238 yards and Pitcher was three-for-four for 72 yards. Hunting Hills quarterbacks Layton Barisenkoff, Brandon Rees and Brandt Burzuk, who played most of the game at running back, combined to pick up 54 yards through the air.
“We’re pretty inexperienced in the secondary and they got some big plays on us,” said Sedgwick. “There was some good cover on our part, but their quarterback put it into some tight windows and their guys made catches. What do you do? That’s going to happen, you just try and limit that.”
The Lightning, without regular starting quarterback Eric Thomson due to a season-ending shoulder injury he suffered two weeks earlier, needed their normally strong ground game to excel. Instead, rushing yards were extremely hard to come by, including the 90 earned by Burzuk on 25 carries.
“Foothills just knows how to play football,” said Sedgwick. “They’re very athletic. Today we knew we had to try and make it work, but we knew they were going to try and shut our run down and they did.”
“Our defence was the difference today, they had a lot of turnovers on these guys,” said Falcons head coach Darren Olson. “We know Hunting Hills is a strong team, they had a big game last week against St. Mary’s (in a 52-35 Lightning win at Calgary) while making some big plays.
“Our coaches did a great job of getting the guys ready and the guys executed the game plan. That was the difference today, for sure.”
On a positive note for the Lightning, they did limit the Foothills running game to 110 yards.
“Our front seven has been probably the strongest group on our team all year,” said Sedgwick. “They were missing their main running back (Landon Rose, due to injury) so we knew they would be a passing team today. I was happy with how we played the run.”
The Lightning simply couldn’t contain Kellogg and couldn’t solve a defence that was led by speedy and physical linebacker Daylon Creason, who also lined up behind Kellogg while playing on both sides of the ball.
“Dalen played a great game for us today and he hasn’t played much at tailback this season,” said Olson. “With Landon Rose out, he had a great week of practice and played great both ways today.”
Okotoks Foothills will face the Grande Prairie St. Joseph’s Celtics in the provincial tier 2 final Saturday at Foote Field in Edmonton. St. Joe’s crushed the host Lloydminster Barons 53-13 in the other semifinal.
“Foothills is a team that would compete for a provincial tier 1 title and I hope that they win it all next week,” said Sedgwick.
“If this is a different day, maybe it’s a different score. But it would have taken our best effort to beat that team and unfortunately we just didn’t have it. That’s the worst thing for a coach because you know how hard your guys work. I’m so proud of our team.
“You hate to see your Grade 12s go out but especially like that. But they have so much to be proud of over their three years. This will hurt now but they have a lot they can take and cherish.”
• The Rimbey Spartans captured the provincial six-man championship Saturday at Lacombe with a 36-6 victory over the Edmonton Millwoods Christian Royals.