Lacombe’s Raiders are on a roll.
On Sept. 21, the Raiders extended their undefeated season by adding yet another win to their record when they crushed the Ponoka Broncs 40-0.
However, Raiders Coach Mike Wood isn’t too excited. He expressed his concern that the Raiders may be a little too brash after such a blowout win and it may come back to bite them in their upcoming big game against Stettler.
“To be honest, (I’m) less comfortable (now),” said Wood. “They’re getting cocky.”
Stettler, like Lacombe, has been winning games by large margins, said Wood.
As such, the team will be the biggest challenge the Raiders have faced yet.
Wood added that Stettler will come to Lacombe after having played a challenging game against Notre Dame, unlike Lacombe who have breezed through their previous two games.
Wood said that discipline will be a key factor for the Raiders in the upcoming game against Stettler.
“(Stettler is) going to go in off a real big challenge, where we just have big heads,” said Wood. He added that the goal for the coaches this week will be to “Shrink those heads” and make sure the players are disciplined enough to play the game they need to.
While the Raiders’ offence was obviously very much on form as they were last weekend, this time it was the defense’s turn to really shine.
Particularly in the first half of the game, Lacombe’s defense refused to budge for the Broncs, at one point not letting them past their own 20-yard line.
“Our defense played strong,” said Wood.
He said a few adjustments had been made on defense that allowed the team to play even stronger. He added that, on the offensive end, the Raiders decided to give their backups a chance to start and gain some experience in the game against Ponoka.
“They struggled a little bit, a little sloppiness and stuff like that, but it was a great experience for them and they definitely needed it,” said Wood.
Lacombe’s strong defense stems from the leadership of inside linebacker, James Wood. The coach added that James is surrounded by a group of really talented players that, combined with James’ leadership work well as a unit, forming a strong cohesive unit that makes for strong defense.
By the same token, the Raiders’ strength on offense stems from quarterback David Muellar who is also surrounded by a group of talented players.
Lacombe’s offense did their fair share on Saturday as well.
Despite starting with mostly backups, the Raiders’ offensive line wasted no time in getting on the scoreboard and then slowly but surely extended their lead over the Broncs throughout the rest of the game.
The Raiders next game, the big challenge against Stettler, will take place at 6 p.m. on Sept. 28 which happens to be Football Day in Lacombe.
Football Day in Lacombe is a tradition that has existed for several years where each of Lacombe’s minor football teams plays a game at home.
Darren Gagnon, chair of the Lacombe Athletic Park Association, said that football is a sport where athletes of all different skill levels can play together.
Football Day, he said, is a way to recognize that.
“We sort of celebrate all the teams playing,” said Gagnon. “It brings a lot of people out. It excites the kids.”
Gagnon added that it is good for younger players to see the older ones play and it encourages them to stay involved in the football program.
He added that with so many teams playing, there is more traffic at the field and therefore larger crowds which is also a good thing.
“Everybody loves playing in front of a large crowd,” said Gagnon.