By Zachary Cormier
Though the Lacombe Composite High School Rams won’t be making an appearance in the Central Alberta High School Football League final this weekend, they’ll be happy with the season that they were able to put together.
The Rams’ dreams of claiming their first CAHSFL title in more than four years came to an end last weekend, after a 22-13 loss to the Hunting Hills High School Lighting at MEGlobal Athletic Park, but Rams Head Coach Jason Petrie said he’s proud of the way the team played.
“I’m proud of all those boys,” Petrie said after the game, which saw the defending champions put up a dominant second quarter to secure the victory.
The game started out well enough for the Rams, who drew first blood just five minutes into the first quarter as quarterback Jonathan Ericson connected with rookie wide receiver Richard Jans for a 15-yard touchdown pass to give Lacombe and early seven-point lead.
It didn’t last, though.
Just five minutes after that opening major, the Lightning struck back as Eric Thomson punched in the football from the two yard line. Tie game.
Hunting followed that major by forcing the Rams to concede a safety on the ensuing drive before quarterback Brandon Rees connected with Thomson for an 80-yard bomb to give the defending champs a 14-7 lead before the two-point conversion.
“They adjusted to what we were doing. We came out with a whole brand-new look against them and scored early. They adjusted and played extremely well, so hats off to them, hats off to their coaching staff,” Petrie said of the Lightning.
From there it was all Lightning.
Hunting Hills’ defense was able to keep Lacombe’s potent passing game off the board for the remainder of the game, containing Ericson to just 153 yards through the air on 13 completions.
That’s not for lack of trying, though.
Especially in the second half, the Rams came out flying.
“Our guys played awesome. I’m proud of each and every one of them, you know? I don’t think there’s more that they could give,” Petrie said.
A third quarter punch in by running back Kyle Popp gave the Rams some hope, but a huge defensive play by the Lightning on the two-point conversion attempt left them a field goal shy of tying the game.
Unfortunately, it would turn out, that field goal was too much to overcome in the fourth and one last touchdown by Thomson sealed the deal. Final score: 22-13.
Still, for a Lacombe Rams team that has struggled to be competitive in the CAHSFL for the past four seasons, this year’s performance marked a huge improvement.
“In the grand scheme of things, we’re back. I look back at things now and I’m like ‘wow.’ Is there things I’d do differently? Absolutely. Is there things that I’d do the same? Yeah. But all in all I think we did pretty darn well this year,” Petrie said.
Mueller, who is in his final season of high school football, said that this team has been a lot of fun to play with this year.
“From day one we improved. It’s a great group of guys to improve with. It’s a tough loss but a great group of guys to go down with,” said Mueller, who has been recruited to play CIS football next season.
Despite the loss, the Rams’ season isn’t quite finished yet.
They’ve got one final game remaining as they take on the Lindsay Thurber Raiders in the third place consolation final.
“Just going out with a swing. That’s all you can really ask for, I guess, after a season like this. Just go out with a win,” Mueller said.
“We want to come out next week and finish on a high note and play hard because that’s important,” Petrie added.
The Lacombe Composite High School Rams will host the Lindsay Thurber Raiders this Friday night at MEGlobal Athletic Park. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.