Sylvan Lake Lakers head coach Jeremy Braitenback has an idea how to handle the Hunting Hills Lightning when the two meet in the Central Alberta High School Football League final Saturday at 3 p.m. at Great Chief Park.
“We had some ideas the first time we played them, but we have to be able to execute,” he said.
The execution wasn’t there in the regular season meeting between the two with the Lightning rolling to a 44-20 victory, thanks to a strong fourth quarter, which saw them score 22 points in less than four minutes.
“Overall it was a good game, things just started to unravel in the fourth quarter,” added Braitenback. “But we’re certainly pleased to get a second shot at them.”
The defending champion Lightning have been the class of the league the last two seasons.
Braitenback knows what makes the Lightning tick and knows it will be a challenge for his squad.
“Their strength is their defence, plus on offence they grind it out. They have a very good O line and strong running backs. They win with defence, but I believe it will come down to which team makes more plays. Our guys have to be up for the challenge.”
Lightning head coach Kyle Sedgwick doesn’t feel the first game result means anything.
“They have outstanding athletes on both sides of the ball and are the only team to control the ball against us this season,” he said. “That first game was really a 10-point game until the end.
“This game will come down to defence and our speed will be a benefit. The thing is we have to do our jobs and not worry about them. That will be a key.”
Both teams have outstanding running backs.
Lakers Brad Huhnold was second in the league with 878 yards on 83 carries while Hunting Hills Mark Beingessner was third with 807 yards on 106 carries and didn’t play the team’s final game against Rocky Mountain House.
Beingessner was a major story in the first meeting with the Lakers as he rushed for 150 yards and scored three touchdowns.
Lakers quarterback Chase Hoffman connected on 80 of 161 passes for 1,642 yards while the Lightning’s Scott Pearson was good on 39 of 80 for 519 yards.
Tyler Ledwos of the Lakers led the league with 29 receptions for 735 yards and five touchdowns. Bud Kriekle added 16 catches for 337 yards and four majors. Shane Gasser led the Lightning with 15 catches for 223 yards.
Gasser led the league in scoring with 114 points with Huhnold second with 78 points on 13 touchdowns.
Saturday’s game has more meaning than a league title. The winner will represent Central Alberta in the Tier II provincials.
“It’s new territory for us,” said Braitenback. “We added two players from Innisfail (linebacker Luke Marshall and right tackle Bobby Looker) and we had to add the Innisfail school population to our school, which moves us up a level.”
The Lakers have consistently moved up. They won the Tier IV title in 2007 and was second in Tier III in 2008.
The Lightning are ranked No. 2 in the province with the Lakers No. 5.
The winner hosts the seventh ranked St. Mary’s Saints of Calgary in the provincial quarter-finals Nov. 12.
The other three CAHSFL playoff games go today with Lindsay Thurber at Stettler at 4 p.m. for third place, Lacombe at Notre Dame at 6 p.m. at Great Chief Park for fifth place and Camrose at Rocky Mountain House at 4 p.m.. for seventh place.
Stettler and Rocky will both go to provincials on Nov. 12. Stettler visits Cold Lake in Tier III play while Rocky hosts top-ranked Holy Rosary of Lloydminster in Tier IV play.
The winner of both games will host the North finals, Nov. 19.
In six-man provincial quarter-final play Saturday the Rimbey Spartans visit the St. Josephs Crusader and the Ponoka Broncs are at the Buck Mountain Mustangs.