In their fourth game of the season, the Lacombe Bantam Raiders managed to harness some serious power.
The Raiders took on the Stettler Cougars last Saturday in a home game and managed to come out victorious with a 48-24 win.
Bantam Raiders Head Coach Fred Knip said the game was electrifying from the beginning. “Stettler had come into the game undefeated and averaging 65 points a game,” he said. “They were the top dog to beat. We were not sure how we were going to fit in.”
During training the week before, the team ensured they were in shape, so they could match the speed of the Cougars.
“And if we couldn’t keep up with them physically, then we had to outsmart them and that’s kind of what we did,” said Knip. “We changed a few players around and we threw in a couple of wrinkles as for plays.”
Knip said the coaching staff knew it was important the Raiders got on the scoreboard right out of the gate, which would then give them the upper hand. The Cougars had yet to have a team to score on them thus far in the season.
“If we could score on them, maybe we could neutralize some of their big players, so that’s what we did,” he said.
Right after the opening kick-off, Raider Richard Jans grabbed the ball and ran down to the Cougars eight yard line.
“I think that confused them a little,” noted Knip. “No one had ever done that this year to them. We made a few adjustments to our game to suit what they were playing and before we knew it, we were up a few touchdowns and they didn’t have any. It just seemed to take all the air out of their balloon. They didn’t sail anywhere after that.”
The Raiders continued to hold down their lead and were sitting with 48 points by the half. The Cougars scored a few touchdowns in the second half, but the writing was already in stone – a defining victory for the Raiders.
With the big win, the Raiders now sit at 3-1, which sets them up perfectly for a playoff position towards the provincials in November.
The first game the Raiders played, bringing in their one loss, was against Hunting Hills High School.
“We were woefully unprepared for Hunting Hills and they beat us,” said Knip.
The Raiders then met Ponoka followed by Notre Dame High School in the following two games, which brought out the Raiders’ confidence and knowledge they could harness their power.
Knip said he is happy with the team’s progress this season.
“They have worked incredibly hard,” he said. “A team that works together, they seem to be moving forward. They are hardworking kids. We have a lot of young people that have come up from the PeeWee’s.
“It really seems like this was a defining game. It was an obstacle in front of them and they knew how they could win. They came out on fire and it was just so exciting to see.”
This past Saturday’s Bantam Raiders game was one of three games played at ME Global Athletic Park as teams from Lacombe and Area Minor Football played locally for Football Day in Lacombe.
The Atom Chargers took to the turf first, hosting six teams from around Central Alberta.
Rounding out the day was the Lacombe PeeWee Explosion who took to the turf for the final kick-off at 3 p.m. against Sylvan Lake.
The Bantam Raiders will be taking on Lindsay Thurber next on Oct. 3rd at Great Chief Park in Red Deer. Kick-off is at 4:30 p.m.
They will also be hosting a bottle drive throughout Lacombe on Oct. 17th.